Watched the Williams documentary hoping to understand the team's racing heritage
But it wasn't exactly that
Even before I became a novice fan of Formula 1 that I am today, thanks to Netflix and a gaming app, I had a faint idea of a team called Williams Racing. I was aware that it was one of the only independent teams remaining on the grid while lugging an illustrious heritage in the sport. Still, my knowledge of that ‘heritage’ was restricted to that sentence. And aggravating my dimness on this subject was the recent news of the Williams family departing from the sport.
Hence, before the veteran team’s new owner, Dorilton Capital takes over the reins of Williams Racing in the upcoming Tuscan GP, I wanted to enlighten myself on what made that name stand out throughout these years even though the founder was on a wheel-chair and the Team Principal was a woman, an unusual feat in motor racing.
Fortunately, Netflix came to the rescue again as I stumbled across a 2017 documentary called ‘Williams’ on it. While initially, I thought it would depict the team’s journey in the sport showcasing the best racing moments from their hay days, it turned out to be a tad different.
The film was more about the man with his name on the door. A man who rolled almost everything he drove. A man who went from selling car parts for pennies to establishing his own F1 team, twice. A man so unaware of the world outside of motor racing and its economics that he believes newspapers cost 5 pence even today. A man so obsessed with the sport that he reported for work even on his wedding day!
It takes into account the everyday grind of Sir Frank Williams to build a Grand Prix winning team. And not just his grind, but the numerous ancillary toils of his family and primarily his wife, Ginny Williams, to put up with his obsession to excel at the sport - something hugely unnoticed even in today’s time.
The film’s duration didn’t focus majorly on the racing aspect of the sport, and I missed that. However, I was content with what the film decided to cover instead - accidents that crippled the team’s spirit. And it wasn’t just the heartbreaking incident that paralysed Sir Frank Williams but also the mishaps which lead to the death of marquee drivers like Aryton Senna and Piers Courage in a Williams car.
The other angle which wasn’t addressed in detail was the recent Williams racing years post-2000s. Part of the reason could’ve been the minimal involvement of Sir Frank in the team’s operations in those years. But I would’ve liked to see that, nonetheless.
A good one-time weekend watch if you feel for probably Formula 1’s greatest family team - Williams Racing.