The Williams FW19 was again an evolution of the mega-successful FW18 which swept to both titles in 1996. Despite this, Williams weren’t to find winning as easy as they did in 1996 – Schumacher and Ferrari had developed a strong car and they were to be serious competition throughout the season.
The FW19 had a better centre of gravity than its predecessor as a result of a wider fuel tank allowing the engine to be situated further forward, which allowed for better corner entry and a more neutral balance.
It was the last Williams-Renault before the marque’s withdrawal from Formula 1, and with Adrian Newey informing Williams of his decision to join McLaren for 1998 midway through 1997 he was put on gardening leave and so the FW19 was also his last.
Villeneuve managed to secure seven wins to Frentzen’s one, taking the title at the final round in Jerez, despite Schumacher’ efforts to cheat his way to the Championship by taking both he and Villeneuve off, for which he justifiably found himself disqualified from the entire season.
Frentzen’s contribution throughout the season, combined with Villeneuve’s strong showing amounted to World Constructors Championship success for Williams – the second successive double championship win for the team.
With such upheaval for Williams, the big question being asked of them was whether or not they’d be able to continue their success into 1998 without Renault engines and Adrian Newey.
The answer, as we know with hindsight was a resounding no, and the two championships won by Williams in 1997 were to be their last to date.
Williams FW19 Specs
|Patrick Head & Adrian Newey
|Rothmans Williams Renault
|Jacques Villeneuve, Heinz-Harald Frentzen
|Renault normally aspirated 3 litre V10
|Williams/Komatsu 6-speed transverse semi-automatic