Australian Alan Jones won Williams’ Formula 1 World Championship in 1980 with the beautifully engineered Williams FW07 that outpaced the might of Team Lotus, Ferrari and Renault in Williams’ third season in the sport.
Following in the footsteps of his father Stan – winner of the 1959 Australian Grand Prix, a non-championship event, contested solely by Australians), Alan Jones made his Formula 1 debut in the ill-fated 1975 Spanish Grand Prix where Rolf Stommelen’s Embassy-Hill crashed into the crown killing five spectators.
Jones, known for his tough, no-nonsense approach to racing joined Williams as they entered the sport as a 1-car team in 1978, and stayed until his first (and temporary) retirement from the sport after a relatively disappointing 1981 season, during which he failed to defend his Formula 1 crown.
With 12 wins and 24 podiums in a Formula 1 career that spanned twelve seasons (albeit not all in the sport full-time), Jones became Australia’s second World Champion, emulating fellow Antipodean Jack Brabham winning the biggest prize in motorsport, and can be considered Williams’ first Formula 1 superstar.
His down-to-earth, straight talking approach made him a difficult competitor, but an even more difficult team-mate as Carlos Reutemann found out in 1981, when a disagreement over team orders fuelled a feud that lasted until they both left the sport within 6 months of each other at the end of 1981/beginning of 1982.
When he retired from Formula 1 after the 1981 season, his intention was to go back to Australia and live on a farm in the sunshine. However, he began yearning for F1 soon after, and returned for a one-off drive for Arrows in the 1983 season leading to two full seasons with the Haas Team in 1985 and 1986.
Sadly for Jones, never again could he hit the heights he and Williams reached in their time together.
Jones released his autobiography ‘AJ: How Alan Jones Climbed to the top of Formula One ‘ in 2017, and can be seen in the F1 paddock from time to time, and yes, he’s still the same belligerent Aussie!
Happy Birthday Alan Jones!