Williams FW15C was a Renault-powered
Formula One car designed and built by
Williams Grand Prix
Engineering and raced by Alain Prost
and Damon Hill during the 1993 Formula One
As the car that won both the drivers' and constructors'
championships in the last season before the FIA banned electronic
driver aids, the FW15C has a decent claim to be the most
technologically sophisticated Formula One car of all time,
incorporating anti-lock brakes, traction control and active
Building on the hugely successful FW14B
which took Nigel Mansell
and Williams to both titles in
1992, the car was the first all-new car to be produced by Patrick Head
. With Newey's input aerodynamically the FW15 was a
significant improvement on its predecessor, with a narrower nose,
sleeker airbox and engine cover and carefully sculpted sidepods.
Another new feature was the larger rear wing used at high-downforce
circuits which featured an extra element ahead and above the main
The car was available in August 1992, but given the success and
improved reliability of the FW14B, prudence dictated that the new
car did not make its debut until the following year's season-opener
in South Africa
. As a
result of the huge difference in build of their two drivers (Alain
Prost was nearly a foot shorter than Damon Hill), Williams
eventually opted to build two slightly different FW15C tubs, so as
to accommodate Hill's size 12
feet, as he had repeatedly complained of cramp in the tight
confines around the pedals.
Renault went into their fifth year with Williams and again
proved to be the class of the field, with their RS5 67° V10 engine
producing , at least more than Benetton and McLaren's Ford V8, and
with less of a penalty in terms of extra fuel carried than
Ferrari's thirsty 041 3.5 l V12.
Renault had acquired a
reputation for almost bullet-proof reliability but Williams did
suffer three engine failures during races in 1993, although on each
occasion the sister car won the race.
The French Grand Prix
PR dream for Renault, with a French driver leading home the team's
only 1-2 finish of the year, while Hill's victory at the Belgian
race was Renault's 50th Formula One win.
By 1993, Formula One had become very much a high-tech arena and the
FW15C was at the very forefront, featuring active suspension
, anti-lock brakes
, traction control
controls, pneumatic valve
, power steering
, semi-automatic transmission
, although this was only used in testing.
As a result Alain Prost described the car as "a little Airbus
While anti-lock brakes and traction control made driving the car on
the limit easier, added complication arose from occasions when the
computer systems wrongly interpreted the information they were
receiving from their sensors, the active suspension being
particularly prone to this from time to time.
With so many computer systems on board the car required three
laptop computers to be connected to it every time it was fired up,
one each for the engine, the telemetry and the suspension.
So great was the level of technology on the cars that FIA
decided to ban several of what they considered to be "driver aids"
with immediate effect following the British Grand Prix, leading to
the so-called "Weikershof
", by which the ban was postponed to the start of
An all new driver line-up was featured. Triple world champion
had signed with Williams for
the 1993 season, having spent the previous year out of motorsport
competition on a sabatical. Reigning Champion Nigel Mansell
departed Formula One, over a
dispute with Frank Williams
money and the signing of Prost, to race in the American CART
series for 1993, while Riccardo Patrese
moved to Benetton-Ford.
was considered for
the vacancy left behind before the team decided to promote Damon Hill
, the team's test driver for the past
two years, who had made two starts for Brabham
in 1992. Williams retained this driver
pairing in all 16 races in 1993.
Triple World Champion Ayrton Senna
had previously had a test with Williams in 1983, had repeatedly
tried to get Frank Williams
him and even went so far as to offer his services for free, but a
clause in Prost's contract specifically forbade Williams signing
Senna as Prost's team-mate and the Brazilian instead opted to
remain at McLaren on a race-by-race basis. However, Prost's clause
only covered the 1993 season.
Williams quickly established themselves as the team to beat, with
Prost winning in South
by a margin of almost a lap over Senna’s McLaren. In
midway through, a victim of someone else’s accident, and Senna
managed to get past Hill to win, with the Englishman registering
his first podium and points in F1 in second. The third race of the
season at Donington
Senna’s most dominant performance, with Hill taking second and
Prost inheriting third from Barrichello late on, the Frenchman’s
race hampered by intermittent gearbox problems.
With three races gone Senna lay 12 points ahead of Prost, but it
was already becoming clear that even Senna in his prime would
struggle to keep ahead of the superior Williams car, and so it
proved with the team going on a run of nine wins in the next ten
races. Dominant displays from Prost at San Marino
lifted him above Senna in the
standings, but Senna regained the lead with his sixth and final win
win give him back
By now Hill was starting to consistently challenge his team-mate.
The Englishman was in touch with Prost nose to tail virtually
throughout the French Grand
, and seemed to be set fair for his debut win in the
British Grand Prix
rare engine failure 18 laps from the end left the home crowd
disappointed. In Germany
came even closer after a stop-go penalty held Prost up, but this
time the Englishman’s rear tyre suffered a puncture on the
penultimate lap, with Prost again inheriting the win.
got his first win, a task made easier after Prost stalled on the
warm-up lap and had to start last. Prost fought his way up to
fourth before a rear wing failure ended his bid for a points
finish, but a retirement for Senna meant there was no ground lost.
Hill made up for lost time completing a hat
of wins in Belgium
. Hill and Prost's 1-3
finishes, respectively, at Spa secured Williams their sixth Constructors’
Senna had had a terrible run of fortune but was still in with a
mathematical chance of the title as the teams met in Portugal
, but Prost’s second
place was enough to secure his fourth World Drivers’ Championship,
prompting the Frenchman to announce his retirement at the end of
the year. In the last two races Prost followed Senna home, which
meant Hill dropped to third behind the Brazilian in the final
Complete Formula One results
indicate pole position)