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Williams FW16

Williams FW16
Williams FW16B
Williams FW16C
David Coulthard driving the FW16B at the 2009 Goodwood Festival of Speed
Category Formula One
Constructor Williams
Designer(s) Patrick Head (Technical Director)
Adrian Newey (Chief Designer)
Predecessor FW15C
Successor FW17
Technical specifications[1]
Chassis Carbon fibre and Aramid monocoque
Suspension (front) Williams inboard torsion spring, double wishbone, operated by pushboard bellcrank
Suspension (rear) Williams inboard coil-spring, double wishbone, operated by pushboard bellcrank
Axle track Front: Script error: No such module "convert".
Rear: Script error: No such module "convert".
Wheelbase Script error: No such module "convert".
Engine Renault RS6 / RS6B / RS6C, Script error: No such module "convert"., 67° V10, NA, mid-engine, longitudinally mounted
Transmission Williams transverse 6-speed semi-automatic
Fuel Elf
Tyres Goodyear
Competition history
Notable entrants Rothmans Williams Renault
Notable drivers 0. 23x15px Damon Hill
2. 23x15px Ayrton Senna
2. 23x15px Nigel Mansell
2. 23x15px David Coulthard
Debut 1994 Brazilian Grand Prix
Constructors' Championships 1 (1994)
Drivers' Championships 0

The Williams FW16 is a Formula One car designed by Adrian Newey for the British Williams team. The FW16 competed in the 1994 Formula One season and was used by British driver Damon Hill to finish runner-up in the 1994 World Drivers' Championship. Its engine was a Renault RS6 3.5 V10. The team's main sponsor was Rothmans, replacing Camel Cigarettes and Canon used on the FW14 and FW15C. The car was designed around the major regulation changes that the FIA had introduced in the off-season, banning the various electronic devices that had been used by the front running cars during the preceding two seasons.

The FW16 was a passive evolution of the FW15C that had preceded it. It featured revised bodywork, including a low profile engine cover; taller sidepods; enclosed driveshaft; and an anhedral rear wing lower element, which was previously hinted at on the FW15C. In addition to these changes, the FW16 featured an innovative rear suspension wishbone design, an improved version of the Renault Sport Formula One engine (RS6), and a fuel valve to enable the ability for mid-race refuelling (a rule reintroduced for 1994).

As with the previous season, the number 0 car was driven by Damon Hill for the entire year, as reigning champion Alain Prost had taken his number 1 with him when he left the sport. The number 2 car was driven by Ayrton Senna, David Coulthard and Nigel Mansell. Although it was fast, the car proved to be a tricky proposition in early testing and in the early part of the season. The car had a number of problems that were not properly remedied: a design flaw was discovered in the car's frontal section and there were attempts to correct this in time for the ill-fated third race, at the San Marino Grand Prix. Various other alterations were made by Newey and Patrick Head to alleviate the car's handling problems, such as the addition of bargeboards at the Spanish Grand Prix; the FIA-mandated modifications to the airbox at the French Grand Prix; and shorter sidepods at the Hungarian Grand Prix. This heavily revised B-spec car was labelled the FW16B from the German Grand Prix onwards. It was developed by Hill, but the Benetton B194 and Michael Schumacher were dominant in the first half of the season. Rookie test driver David Coulthard shared the second car with former champion Nigel Mansell (who also had IndyCar commitments).


The car configuration included a distinctive anhedral rear wing lower element, the effectiveness of which depended on a low outboard tail section, which was achieved by totally enclosing the driveshafts within wing-section carbon fibre composite shrouds that doubled as the upper wishbones. This shroud was removable in case it was deemed to be outside the imposed regulations.


The car was powered by a 67-degree V10 engine by Renault Sport termed the RS6 specification, delivering approximately 820 hp. Its power was transmitted by means of a revised and lightened version of the six-speed transverse gearbox used the previous year.


The FW16 featured power-assisted steering, hydraulically driven and reacting to input from electronic sensors, a system that drew heavily from the knowledge gained from the teams active suspension technology. It lacked the fully automatic gear change system of the preceding year and was restricted to a "semi-automatic" transmission.

Imola modifications

Early season performance of the FW16 indicated that it had shortcomings. Specifically, the window of driveability/setup in which the car was competitive was very narrow. In addition to this, the car had a tendency of dynamically changing its handling balance (understeer/oversteer) for any given setup. The first comprehensive set of modifications to widen this driveability window were introduced at Imola. These included a revised nose profile with the wings positioned slightly higher, new aerodynamic end plates which were slightly taller, a revised wheelbase and a re-shaped (white) cockpit surround. Other cockpit changes were designed to accommodate Senna's desire to be made more comfortable in the car and included changes to the steering column design to adjust the steering wheel position in line with Senna's personal preference. This included welding an additional extension onto the steering column.[2]


The car was shown to have severe shortcomings at its debut. The FW16 lacked the active suspension and traction control of the previous season's FW15C, yet was itself an evolution of a chassis that had been designed for and depended on these systems (FW15C). It suffered from a very narrow driveability setup window that made it difficult to drive until the modifications to become the FW16B. This could be seen when Senna, pushing to close the gap between himself and Schumacher, spun out of second place during the Brazilian Grand Prix, and by the identical spins in practice by Hill and Senna at Aida, with Senna commenting on the Aida practice spin: "I can't explain it. I was actually in one of my best positions at that corner when it went. It looked silly and stupid but better it happens today than tomorrow."

Senna commented as follows on the FW16 during early season testing:

"I have a very negative feeling about driving the car and driving it on the limit and so on. Therefore I didn't have a single run or a single lap that I felt comfortable or reasonably confident."

"I am uncomfortable in the car, it all feels wrong. We changed the seat and the wheel, but even so I was already asking for more room." "Going back to when we raced at Estoril last September (on testing the passive Williams at the same track 4 months later), it feels much more difficult. Some of that is down to the lack of electronic change. Also, the car has its own characteristics which I'm not fully confident in yet. It makes you a lot more tense and that stresses you." [3]

Patrick Head subsequently removed a section of the chassis to give Senna more space. However the new passive Williams FW16 had its shortcomings. The car was springy and unstable, with aerodynamic deficiencies which the revolutionary rear suspension could not mask.[4]

Even after the initial Imola modifications mentioned earlier, the car maintained its tendency of dynamically changing its handling balance (understeer/oversteer) for any given setup. A short account of a driver briefing which Ayrton Senna gave to Adrian Newey and his race engineer in 1994, David Brown, at Imola describing this exact characteristic can be seen in the 2010 Senna movie by Universal Pictures. Notably, in this exchange Senna describes the car as being "worse" than before.

It is also alleged that in a personal conversation about the FW16 between Prost and Senna in early 1994 Prost had admitted that the FW15C had not consistently been as easy to drive as others had assumed in 1993, exhibiting odd behaviour at times. Being more nervous than the preceding FW14B when driven at the limit this manifested itself in slight rear-end instability under braking, most notable on high speed circuits when the car was operating in a low downforce trim, attributed to small changes in weight distribution from the year before. Other reasons given were that the FW15C, and by extension the FW16, were simply an evolution of the FW14B, which had been designed to suit the driving style of Nigel Mansell. The major aerodynamic difference between the three cars being the anhedral rear wing and downward sloping rear bodywork of the FW16.

Adrian Newey, designer of the FW16 commented as follows:

"To be honest we made a bloody awful cock-up. The rear-end grip problem was purely a setup problem. We were learning about springs and dampers all over again after concentrating on active suspension for two years, whereas most people had been away for just one. We also had a rather silly aerodynamic problem—basically the front wing was too low—but that was raised for Imola, by which time we were looking in pretty good shape."[2][5]

Furthermore, Newey has stated that he and Senna were at odds regarding the development of the car; Senna suggesting that they further develop and use the FW15D in 1994 and Newey favouring the FW16.

In addition, at a television program on the 20th anniversary of Imola 1994 Senna's closest friend Gerhard Berger recalls a conversation he had with Senna at Imola 1994 where Senna stated: "We are now finally aware of the problem with this car and in 2 or 3 weeks from now the problems should be solved." [6] The FW16 was indeed becoming more and more competitive after this timeframe.

Williams FW16B

Following the Imola changes the car was again incrementally updated and labelled as FW16B by the German Grand Prix. This version featured a longer wheelbase, revised front and rear wing, shortened sidepods and the compulsory opened rear on the airbox and cowling in accordance with FIA regulations following the accidents at Imola. The shortened sidepods arose due to a necessity to use larger bargeboards after the front wing endplate diffusers were banned. This version of the car was more or less a sorted version of the rather unsorted FW16 and it proved to be very fast. Hill battled Schumacher for the championship but lost by a single point in the final race in Australia, but Hill's hard work meant that Williams won the constructors' championship that season.

Williams FW16C

The FW16C was a testcar fitted with a 3 litre engine as per the 1995 F1 regulations. It was used between 20–22 December in 1994 at Paul Ricard by Damon Hill, Jean-Christophe Boullion and Emmanuel Collard.

Complete Formula One results

(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Team Engine Tyre Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Pts. WCC
1994 Rothmans Williams Renault RS6 / RS6B / RS6C
Damon Hill 2 Ret 6 Ret 1 2 2 1 8 2 1 1 1 2 1 Ret
Ayrton Senna Ret Ret Ret
David Coulthard Ret 5 5 Ret Ret 4 6 2
Nigel Mansell Ret Ret 4 1


  1. ^ "1993 Williams FW15C Renault - Images, Specifications and Information". Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  2. ^ a b Williams, Triumph out of Tragedy, Alan Henry
  3. ^ Autosport 24 Jan 1994 Vol 134 #4 p.28
  4. ^ "Dodelijke ongelukken in de Formule 1" (in Nederlands). F1rating. Retrieved 17 June 2011. 
  5. ^ Sippel, Egmont (2014-05-01). "Death of Senna: Seismic - and sinister?". Wheels24. Retrieved 2014-10-16.
  6. ^

External links