Once again, Damon Hill would drive the number 0 car, as the previous season’s World Champion decided to leave the sport, and he was joined by three-times World Drivers Champion Ayrton Senna in his first year with the Williams team.
The key difference between the FW15C and the FW16 was the removal of many of the driver aids that electronically assisted the car in cornering, accelerating and braking quicker and better. This initially had a severe detrimental effect on handling, to the point where the car would suffer from both understeer and oversteer over the course of a single lap, largely due to the aerodynamics being designed for use with active suspension, and the car now with conventional suspension.
Senna commented that he hadn’t driven a single lap in the car where he felt confident or comfortable.
Both drivers struggled in the season’s opening Grands Prix with a solitary podium between them in the opening two races.
In the San Marino Grand Prix, in one of the blackest weekends for the sport, Williams’ lead driver Ayrton Senna was fatally injured after losing control of the car at high speed going into the Tamburello corner and making heavy contact with the retaining wall.
Following Imola the car was continually modified with a longer wheelbase, extra aerodynamic devices and shortened sidepods. This rectified many of the FW16’s inherent problems to the extent that Damon Hill was able to gain ground on World Champion elect Michael Schumacher, only losing out on the World Drivers Championship to a dastardly and desperate move by the about-to-retire Schumacher in the last Grand Prix of the year in Adelaide which ended Damon’s race and title aspirations in one cowardly swipe.
The World Constructors Championship was won with the help of cameos in the number 2 car by Nigel Mansell and David Coulthard, but it was scant consolation for car and a season that promised so much.
Williams FW16 Specs
|Designed by:||Patrick Head & Adrian Newey|
|Official entrant:||Rothmans Williams Renault|
|Drivers:||Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell, David Coulthard|
|Engine:||Renault normally aspirated 3.5 litre V10|
|Transmission:||Williams transverse 6-speed semi-automatic|
|Preceded by:||Williams FW15|
|Succeeded by:||Williams FW17|