Ex-Williams F1 driver Riccardo Patrese has driven his old car, a 1991 Williams FW14 for the first time since it was retired at the end of the 1991 season at an event at Imola celebrating the Minardi Team’s time in Formula 1.
The Williams FW14 took Patrese to third place in the 1991 Formula 1 World Championship behind Champion Ayrton Senna and 1992 champion and team-mate to Patrese Nigel Mansell, with two wins in Mexico and Portugal.
The Adrian Newey designed FW14 was the Englishman’s first Williams car having joined in 1990 after being sacked by F1 minnows Leyton House.
It was a foray into the unknown for Williams F1, being the first to make use of complex electronic gadgetry such as ABS, traction control, active-suspension and semi-automatic gearbox – devices that would later allow the team to dominate F1 to such an extent that they were largely outlawed at the end of the 1993 season.
Problematic and unreliable at first, by the mid-point of the season, Williams and Mansell, having mastered the complex FW14 began to dominate races and reel in championship leader Senna, who by that point had built up a commanding lead.
It all proved in vain as Senna would seal the title at the penultimate round in Japan, but the die was cast and Williams would be untouchable the following season, winning both titles in record time.
Understandably the FW14 was decked out with championship runner-up Mansell’s famous ‘red 5’ rather than Patrese’s own number 6, but if this was the cause of any consternation for the Italian he certainly didn’t show it.
“It was an incredible feeling getting back behind the wheel of the car that gave me incredible results, one of which was the front row of the grid beside Ayrton Senna right here in Imola in the 1991 grand prix” said Patrese.
Of the event itself he added: “These events are even more beautiful than an F1 grand prix because they give all the fans the chance to come in touch with the cars and drivers.”