Open main menu

The Williams FW10 was the Formula One car designed by Frank Dernie for the 1985 Formula One season. The team introduced an upgraded version of the car dubbed the FW10B late in the season.

Williams FW10
Mansell - Williams 1985.jpg
CategoryFormula One
Designer(s)Patrick Head
Frank Dernie
Technical specifications[1]
ChassisMoulded Carbon composite monocoque
Suspension (front)Double wishbone, rocker-operated inboard spring damper
Suspension (rear)Lower wishbone, rocker-operated inboard spring damper/Double wishbone, pullrod-operated inboard spring damper
Axle trackFront: 1,803 mm (71.0 in)
Rear: 1,651 mm (65.0 in)
Wheelbase2,794 mm (110.0 in)
EngineHonda RA165-E 1.5 L (1,494 cc , 91.2 cu in) V6 Twin Turbocharged mid-engine
TransmissionWilliams / Hewland 6-speed Manual
Weight545 kg (1,202 lb)
Competition history
Notable entrantsCanon Williams Honda Team
Notable drivers5. United Kingdom Nigel Mansell
6. Finland Keke Rosberg
Debut1985 Brazilian Grand Prix
Constructors' Championships0
Drivers' Championships0



The FW10 on display at the Honda Collection Hall in Japan.

1985 marked Williams' second full season with Honda turbo power. 1984 had been difficult, as the FW09 struggled to cope with the enormous power and brutal torque curve, leading to handling problems which afflicted drivers Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite throughout the season. Technical Director Patrick Head thus decided to make the FW10 stiffer by making the monocoque entirely from carbon composite, rather than the aluminium honeycomb construction of previous years- the first Williams F1 car ever to be made predominantly of this material. This construction technique had been pioneered by the McLaren team with their MP4/1 in 1981, and was in the process of being adopted by the other teams for its combination of exceptional stiffness and lightness. In total, nine FW10 tubs were built; one was sent to Japan for Honda test driver Satoru Nakajima to drive, and one was a prototype to test the construction process.

During the 1985 season, two were written off in accidents: the first when Nigel Mansell went head-on into a barrier at Detroit, the second when he crashed heavily at Paul Ricard due to tyre blowout at over 200 mph (322 km/h), unwittingly setting the record for the highest speed crash in Formula One. The Honda engine proved to be extremely powerful, if not as reliable as the championship-winning TAG-Porsche turbo engine in Alain Prost's McLaren MP4/2B, with Head claiming around 1000–1250 bhp in qualifying, and up to 900 bhp (670 kW) in race configuration.

Racing historyEdit

The team had a much better season than in the previous two years, scoring four wins and taking third place in the Constructors' Championship. During the early part of the season the cars made do with upgraded 1984 engines. Honda introduced a completely new RA165-E engine at Detroit, which had smaller turbos (with a very small drop-off in power which was recovered thanks to improved engine and turbo technology), and instantly the cars were on the pace, with both Rosberg and Mansell expressing delight in the power of the new engine and how much easier it was to drive being less 'peaky' with a much smoother power delivery. Rosberg won in Detroit, whilst further developments to the engine in the final stages of the season saw the FW10 win the final three races of the season which allowed Williams to snatch third place in the Constructors' Championship on a count-back from Lotus.

Mansell, having joined the team from Lotus at the beginning of the year, won his first Grand Prix in home territory at Brands Hatch for the European Grand Prix, before following it up immediately with another win at Kyalami in South Africa. After winning in Detroit, Rosberg then won his 5th and last Grand Prix at the last race of the season in Adelaide for the first ever World Championship Australian Grand Prix (Williams had previously won the non-championship AGP in 1980 with that year's World Drivers' Champion Alan Jones driving the Cosworth DFV powered Williams FW07B).

The momentum gained from winning the final three races of the season, plus an all-new Honda RA166-E V6 turbo, would carry the team into a successful 1986 season.

Despite winning the final three races of the year, the team's early season reliability was still not as good as some of its rivals, and the car proved difficult to drive in wet conditions and at tight circuits with earlier-specification engines, such as at the Portuguese and Monaco Grands Prix.

During qualifying for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Keke Rosberg lapped the 4.719 km (2.932 mi) circuit in his Honda powered FW10 in a time of 1:05.591 for an average speed of 160.9 mph (258.9 km/h), the first time a Formula One car had broken the 160 mph barrier for a qualifying lap. This record would stand until Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya lapped Monza in his V10 BMW powered Williams FW24 at 161.449 mph (259.827 km/h) during qualifying for the 2002 Italian Grand Prix. Rosberg's lap at Silverstone was all the more impressive given that he was on slick qualifying tyres at a time when the track was damp from light rain, and that he also had a deflating tyre for most of the lap.

The 1985 Formula One season saw a number of cars that were fast on specific circuits- i.e. the Lotus that year was the best car on slow, bumpy and tight circuits, the McLaren was the best car in high-speed corners, and the Ferrari and Brabham cars that year were the fastest down the straights (the Pirelli-shod Brabham was particularly good in hot weather, because the Pirelli tyres needed higher temperatures than normal to work properly). The Williams, however, seemed to be the best all-round car, being competitive on almost any type of circuit it competed on. It was fast down the straights, fast on high-speed circuits and fast on slow circuits. After the team got an all-new engine from Honda for Detroit, the car became a lot better on slower circuits, almost on par with the Lotus.

Autocourse subsequently picked the FW10 as third-best car of the year, behind the Lotus 97T and McLaren MP4/2B, and the chassis also won the Autosport magazine's "racing car of the year" award. The FW10 also acted as an important step up to 1986 and 1987 for the team, in which the FW11 with its Honda engines were generally the class of the field.

After years of running predominantly white cars with British Racing Green coloured sign writing, this was the first Williams car to wear the distinctive Yellow-Blue-White livery that regardless of sponsors, would become characteristic of the team until the end of the 1993 season.

Complete Formula One resultsEdit

(key) (Results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap.)

Year Team Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Points WCC
1985 Canon Williams Honda RA164E 1.5 V6t
Honda RA165E 1.5 V6t
Nigel Mansell Ret 5 5 7 6 Ret DNS Ret 6 Ret 6 11 2 1 1 Ret
Keke Rosberg Ret Ret Ret 8 4 1 2 Ret 12 Ret Ret Ret 4 3 2 1


  1. ^ "AT&T Williams F1". Retrieved 2010-08-23.
Preceded by
McLaren MP4/2
Racing Car Of The Year

Succeeded by
Williams FW11