The Williams FW14B with which Britain’s Nigel Mansell won five races en route to the 1992 Formula 1 World Championship has sold at auction for £2.7 million making it the most expensive Williams F1 car ever sold.
The Bonhams auction at this years Goodwood festival of speed attracted bidders from across the world with the winner being a ‘renowned’ private collector.
Its design epitomises Newey’s style in that era with sharp lines integrating with painstakingly crafted curves resulting in a sleek, elegant car clearly conceived by the pen of a designed and not based on data from a wind tunnel.
For me there is one anomaly to its otherwise flowing lines – the two protrusions either side of the nose that house the car’s active suspension.
These were noticeably gone in the FW14B’s successor, the FW15.
This particular chassis was the one Mansell drove to pole position and victory in the first five Grand Prix of the 1992 season (Kyalami, Mexico, Brazil, Barcelona and San Marino) before Williams’ unbeaten run was interrupted by McLaren’s Ayrton Senna in Monaco.
This chassis was then taken over by Mansell’s team-mate Riccardo Patrese who drove it in a further six races of the 1992 season, including a memorable Portugese Grand Prix that concluded (for Patrese at least) when the Italian hit the back of the pits-bound Gerhard Berger, launching him vertically into the air and somersaulting before coming to rest alongside the pit-wall.
The FW14B – an evolution of Adrian Newey‘s first Williams Grand Prix car, the FW14, redefined racing cars in the early 1990s with active suspension, ABS, traction control and a host of other electronic wizardry that was banned a couple of years later.
Williams were pioneers of this technology and this gave them such an early advantage over the competition that many of their rivals deemed it unfair.
Mansell would end the year as runaway champion, securing a then record nine Grand Prix wins over the course of the season.
It would prove to be Mansell’s lone World Championship win, but for Williams it was the beginning of one of their most successful periods in the sport with nine championship titles in six years.