(MAIN) Colin Chapman uses the “Mk. I Eyeball” method to check the ride height on Jimmy Clark’s Lotus 25 before the start of the 1964 Dutch Grand Prix, which Clark won. (RIGHT) Alan Jones’ Williams FW07, 1980 Monaco GP.
GR AND DESIGNS
Some of racing’s top designers tell us the
racecars they admire the most, and why.
hile I was working on Indy cars, the
Williams FW07, which took Alan Jones
to his Formula 1 World Championship in
1980 (ABOVE), stood out to me as an
amazing, innovative car. But it wasn’t the
fact that it won the championship that it
came to mind. It was just so simple.
I got a chance to look one over quite
extensively at a historic event recently
and was reminded of the period and how
advanced the FW07 was for its time and
where we were at with emerging materials.
It used an aluminum/honeycomb tub and
we were just getting into honeycomb at
the time; aluminum tubs were the norm,
and the addition of honeycomb into the
manufacturing process and making it work
properly to provide the advantages it could
offer was something few had gotten right.
The FW07 was the first F1 car I can recall
that achieved this, and the results are
clear. Honeycomb came as flat pieces of
sheet, but [designer] Patrick Head was
able to go beyond those limitations and
use it in non-linear ways that hadn’t been
done. To look at the tub and see how it was
all formed and shaped, while also having
to make it an aerodynamic structure...it’s
so simple and neat. It came right when we
were making great strides in ground effects,
and we had to maintain immense chassis
stiffness, which the honeycomb could give.
I wish I’d done the FW07 because it
was so simple and strong and broke
ground on quite a difficult material to
work with. Aluminum has been replaced
by carbon fiber now, but those
honeycomb advances remain today.