FRANK WILLIAMS GOES TO SAUDI-ARABIA
HOW DID BIN LADEN MANAGE TO FIND HIS WAY IN FORMULA 1?
By the end of the 70s, the Williams Formula One team was in financial trouble. The money was gone and the team lacked any significant success. Frank Williams needed to find himself some new sponsors by the end of the 1977 season. Meanwhile, the team was trying to find its way around as cheap as possible, forcing the mechanics to eat at the buffet whch was meant for guests and businessmen. While they were at it at the buffet, Frank Williams ran marathons to raise money. But this only helped to some degree. He and technical director Patrick Head decided to fly to Saudi-Arabia, were the streets were being paved in gold. After a few fruitful conversations with some significant Saudi-Arabian entrepreneurs Williams and Head returned to Oxfordshire with Saudi-Airlines and Albilad-hotels as the new main sponsors. Even though these sponsors took with them a huge sum of money, a disputable name made its way onto the 1979 Williams FW07s livery: Bin Laden. Albilads founding father, Mohamed Bin Laden, was the father of no other than Osama Bin Laden. Mohammed himself had died in 1967, a few of Osamas brothers continued the family business.
The main company, Saudi-Binladen, was a construction and engineering company responsible for a lot of Saudi-Arabian infrastructure. The Williams F1 team did become successful though, winning the 1980 drivers title with Alan Jones driving the Albilad-Williams to multiple victories. How disputable was this sponsoring? Not that much. Mohammed Bin Laden had 126 sons. Osama was ousted by his family due to his radicalisation, while most of the Bin Laden family emigrated to the USA and Europe, continuing their successful businesses. This part of the Bin Laden family has never been accused of having ties with Al Qaeda. However, when Alan Jones was reminded about this he did wish for Osama to have dropped by in the paddock, only for Jones to run him over.