An evolution of the previous season’s car that performed so admirably, the main visual difference between the Williams FW17 and the FW18 were the mandatory safety elements introduced by the FIA for 1996. Higher head protection on either side of the cockpit and a lower seating position for the driver resulting in the top of his helmet being less pronounced from the cockpit and less vulnerable to any lateral or frontal impact.
Schumacher moved from Benetton to Ferrari in the close season, and in the other direction went both Alesi and Berger. The outgoing Coulthard had found himself at McLaren, who were at the start of their Mercedes journey, but it would be a couple of years yet before they hit their stride.
Damon Hill‘s driving was developing and his smooth, almost effortless style suited the FW18 well.
The season began well with a 1-2 finish in Australia, Villeneuve almost pipping Hill to the win on his Formula 1 debut.
The season continued in that vein, the Williams drivers sharing the spoils in 12 out of the 16 races, comfortably securing the World Constructors Championship.
The drivers title went right down to the wire, Hill pipping Villeneuve at the last round with a win when his young teammate failed to finish.
Sadly for Damon it was deemed not enough for a contract for 1997 and for the third time in five years a Williams World Champion would move on from the team at the end of his championship year.
Williams FW18 Specs
|Designed by:||Patrick Head & Adrian Newey|
|Official entrant:||Rothmans Williams Renault|
|Drivers:||Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve|
|Engine:||Renault normally aspirated 3 litre V10|
|Transmission:||Williams transverse 6-speed semi-automatic|
|Preceded by:||Williams FW17|
|Succeeded by:||Williams FW19|