Williams have recently seen their Engineering Director Patrick Head finally leave the team that he has had such a huge part in setting up and running over the years. Head has been involved in the team in various positions since its creation in 1977. When Sir Frank Williams made the decision to start a team, he asked Head to be the designer, and they split the ownership of the new team with Williams taking 70% and Head taking 30%.
They secured the backing of Saudi Airlines, and hired the Australian driver Alan Jones, and in the 1978 season they won 11 points using Patrick Head’s first car, the FW06. After this, the team entered a period of fantastic expansion and success, getting on the podium for the first time in 1979. By 1980, Head’s was the best car out there, and during the 80’s the Williams team won both the Drivers’ world championship, and the Constructors world championship. Head moved to the post of Technical Director in this period, overseeing the design process and even had to briefly take control of the team in 1986 when Frank suffered a serious injury. The early 90’s also saw a period of Williams dominance, with Adrian Newey working on the designs with Head.
In the last few years however, Head has started to take more of a backseat in proceedings, and was made Engineering Director in 2004, when Sam Michael succeeded him as Technical Director and since then has appeared less and less frequently. “Even… when we were winning championships, I didn’t go to all the races,” said Head, “There was usually somebody else, like Frank Dernie, Adrian Newey, who did half the races and I did the other half. In recent years, I’ve been doing less than half the races, anyway.” Williams will be sad to see their inspirational designer finally retiring from Formula 1, but with new hands guiding the team they will hope that next season will see an improvement in their form, and Head promises he will still be watching their progress closely as a major shareholder.