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Technical insight into the Williams FW08 Formula 1 Car

The Williams FW08 was the car that sealed the 1982 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship in 1982 in the hands of Keke Rosberg, father to be of 2017 World Champion Nico Rosberg; Keke’s team mate at the time was Irish driver Derek Daly. The FW08 missed the first 4 rounds of the 1982 championship with Rosberg and Daly driving the predecessor up until Spa Francorchamps for the 5th round o, where Keke sealed 2nd place and Daly unfortunately retired. In 1983 the Williams FW08 was updated to the FW08C. The FW08 used ground effect, and in 1983 the regulation change meant cars had to be heavily modified resulting in a flat-bottomed car. At the end of the 1982 season Williams finished 5th in the Formula 1 Constructors Championship and hopes were not high for the follow season with more and more competition turning to turbo power, yet the opening round in Brazil, Keke put the Williams on pole and later in the season he scored the FW08Cs’ final win at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The FW08C will also go down as being the first F1 car that the late Ayrton Senna drove, albeit not competitively, however he continued to badger Frank Williams while they sat next to one another on a flight. Senna tested the car at Donington Park in 1983. The FW08 is now a popular car within the historic racing scene, specifically in the FIA Historic Formula 1 Championship organised by Masters Historic Racing, with several chassis still competing across Europe and also in the United States.

Let’s delve into some pictures and see what made this car so special.

Williams F1 FW08 from the Front

The iconic Saudia Arabian Airlines and TAG sponsored livery of the FW08

Williams FW08 From the Back

Quite different from the modern machines we see today. Very simple aero package with both the front and rear wing only really having one element each.

Willaims FW08 F1 Car Brake Disc

The ventilated brake discs are very similar to what you may see on a performance car nowadays – except significantly larger! The calipers are made up two sets of 2-pot calipers and are spaced around the disc evenly for a balanced braking force.

Williams FW08 Suspension and Braking System

From this angle you can see the monocoque, ‘honeycomb’ designed chassis to the left of the frame and the two very simple wishbones lining from the chassis to the braking system. Also seen in this shot is the cooling duct for the brakes; on the back of the system you can see the large duct used to guide air into the discs to keep them cool. The ventilated holes in the brake disc itself can also been seen from this angle which is also a very common on performance cars nowadays.

Williams FW08 with Engine Cover Removed

From the rear you can see just how much space is used underneath the bodywork to guide the air underneath the vehicle which helps ‘suck’ the vehicle to the circuit;  this is what is known as the ground effect. You can see the chassis tub where the arms of the wishbone are connected and the empty space in between kept as clear as possible to increase airflow.


You can also see the air intakes at the top of the image. These would sit snug against the engine cover with the filters themselves sat against the cover grill to allow air to enter the engine. You can also spot the two straight pipe exhausts exiting from the back of the engine, and just below them the Hewland gearbox sits as low to the ground as possible.

Williams FW08 Ford DFV Engine

The Ford DFV engine was a popular powertrain used across numerous manufactures in the 70s and 80s with the engine nearing the end of its life cycle in the early 80s before turbo power took off; in all the DFV took 12 Formula 1 Drivers’ Championships, 10 Formula 1 Constructor’s Championships and 2 Le Mans 24 Hours outright victories. Further variations of the Ford DFV engines were used in other sports including the Ford DFX engine in IndyCar, which was a 2.65L turbo charged engine.

The engine has a 90-degree bank and has a capacity of 3.0L. From here you can follow the exhaust pipes where they head towards the rear of the vehicle and are compact as possible to aid the aerodynamics. The oil tank can be seen with the blue pipes from the left of the engine and the fuel tank filler cap to the top right of the image. With so many manufacturers opting to use the Ford DFV engine as their chosen powerplant, spare parts were easy to come by at the time.

With the bodywork back on the car you can see just how everything fits into place. The two exhaust pipes slot between the central support for the rear wing. The huge sidepod intakes are pretty much just covers, as you saw earlier everything under the side pod is hollow, which we will come onto in another image later when we look at the floor.  Some of the air that entered under the front of the car will continue out of the back under the rear wing and the rest will exit in the two huge holes in the side pod pushing the car to the ground as the air flows over the bodywork. You can also see the air intake just below the roll hoop where the silver grille is located.  

 Williams FW08 From the Side

Just look how much has change over the years in comparison to modern day F1 cars. The distance from the driver’s cockpit to the nose cone is almost halved. The driver’s feet would be just behind the front wing, which shows how much has changed regarding safety and where the driver feet are now position in modern day Formula 1 cars. The huge rear wing measured over 1m in length with the two endplates coming in at almost 50cm.

Williams FW08 Steering Wheel and Cockpit

Zero buttons on the steering wheel!? A simple alcantara steering wheel for grip and all buttons and instruments are on the ‘dashboard’. The rev counter moves anti-clockwise so that the higher digits are easier for the driver to see as the engine spent most of its time in the higher rev band.

No sequential or flappy paddles here. The gear lever is located to the drivers right. The fire extinguisher has a huge safety box around it so it isn’t accidentally pressed – almost reminds us of a dogs cone of shame.  The two gauges to the left are for fuel and water pressure. The rev counter is in the centre and the oil pressure is to the right. None of the instruments really give the diver the opportunity to edit the setup or make any alterations.The most important button is located on the bottom right, which is labelled ‘Drink’.

Williams FW08 Ground Effect Floor Pan

The floor pan, from the rear. The central part of the floor is the monocoque chassis which extruded further to the ground than the two side pods. The side pod bodywork also sits as close to the ground as possible to create the two vacuums which helps the air travel underneath the car effective sucking it to the ground, this was what gave the cars the ground effect name.

Williams FW08 Hewland Gearbox

The gearbox hangs over the rear axis to aid with the balance of the car. The Hewland gearbox can still be seen in competition today even down to the classic Formula Ford series. The Hewland gearbox is so simple to work with, engineers could strip the gearbox, change the ratios, put it back together and back on the car in around 20 minutes an din some cases even less.

Well, we hope you enjoyed this insight into he FW08. Stay posted for more automotive blogs.

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