How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era
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How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

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Stuart Codling charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Aesthetics count for little in Formula 1. The FW09 was neither the prettiest nor the fastest car to emerge from the Williams works, but it remains a pivotal machine in the team’s – and F1’s – history. It was the first turbocharged Williams, the first manufacturer-aligned Williams, and the car which delivered Honda to the winners’ circle upon its return to the world championship.

As early as 1981 it had become obvious to Frank Williams that he needed a supply of turbocharged engines to remain competitive over the long term. The question was who that supplier might be – certainly not Ferrari or Renault, since they had their own teams which they would naturally prioritise. Honda emerged as a potential candidate. Throughout that year word circulated that the Japanese giant might be tempted back to the top category as an engine supplier rather than an entrant in its own right.

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