History has special significance in the world of Formula One.
A comprehensive list of special history making feats is a story for another time, instead and in celebration of the Williams F1 team, we look at their part in the careers of two drivers who each form one part of the only two father and son combinations to have won drivers titles; Damon Hill and Nico Rosberg.
What else can be said about the son of F1 Champion Graham Hill except for legendary. For many, Hill will forever trigger memories of the blue and white colour’s of the Rothmans Williams team, with whom he won his title in 1996. It was the combination of Frank Williams & Patrick Head that gave Hill, then 33, a seat and rest, as they say, is history.
Hill spent 3 seasons will Williams, culminating in his historic title win during the 1996 season. But it was his steadfast determination, guts and tough skin that saw him move from spinning out in his first race to taking three victories by seasons end in 1993.
1994 will forever be remembered as modern F1’s darkest year, the year we lost Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger. Senna had been Hill’s teammate and at the wheel of the Williams during the San Marino Grand Prix. Hill, through the storm cloud of grief and anger that fell over F1, lead the team as team leader through what remains a painful wound on the soul of F1 and finished 2nd in the championship to Michael Schumacher.
1995 proved difficult for Hill, but in 1996 he would prove his detractors wrong, by cementing his place in history and becoming Drivers World Champion. While it would prove to be his last with Williams, Hill rewarded the faith that Sir Frank had placed in him, which would be repeated with another driver many years later.
The reigning world champion retired at the end of the 2016 season to the sadness of many of his fans. While his title was achieved under the banner of the Mercedes F1 team, like Hill, Rosberg too had Williams place faith in his young talent.
The son of F1 champion Keke Rosberg, began his career at the Williams team in 2006. His exploits in the Engineering aptitude test aside, Rosberg spent 4 seasons with the team and immediately broke a record in the first season, becoming the then youngest driver to set a fastest lap.
In 2008 he scored his first podium in F1 and also lead a Grand Prix for the first time under the floodlights of Singapore, which ultimately saw him finish in 2nd place.
2009 and his final season, Rosberg single handedly gave Williams 6th place in the constructors championship, earning every point for his team.
Williams had placed faith in a rookie driver, who relied on his intelligence and skill, much like Hill, and gave him a break into F1. More importantly, they kept him in the team based on his skill before he moved to Mercedes and his eventual title.
What, you may ask, is Williams role in these history making title wins? The answer to that is simple: Williams have over their many years in F1 looked to nurture talent and break boundaries by placing their faith in drivers who they could see the bigger brighter future with.
Williams have always had a firm place in the hearts of most drivers for the way in which Sir Frank was unapologetic for his choices in drivers, even when the paddock questioned him. You may say, “well they would have probably got a drive elsewhere”.
They didn’t, their drives were with Williams. The tenure of an F1 driver is one of the most uncertain things about the sport and many a rookie is simply not given the time and support to prove his worth. Williams put faith in both Hill and Rosberg, supported them and saw them gain the experience that was necessary to take their respective eventual titles.
That’s arguably all a driver wants… and a fast car of course!
Rhea Morar, deputy F1 editor