The Williams FW14B holds a unique place in British motor racing history, taking Nigel Mansell to his only Formula 1 Driver’s World Championship with nine wins during an utterly dominant season, also lifting the Constructors’ World Championship for Williams. Now the secrets of the success of the iconic Williams F1 car are revealed in a new manual from publisher Haynes, providing enthusiasts with a unique glimpse under the bodywork of this remarkable feat of engineering.
With detailed information on the car’s design, anatomy and operation, as well as a race-by-race account of the season, the Williams FW14B Owners’ Workshop Manual – written with the full co-operation of Williams – tells the fascinating story of the FW14B’s superlative performance during the 1992 campaign.
The car was only initially intended to act as a stop-gap measure early in the season until its successor, the FW15, could be introduced later that same year. However, the FW14B proved so dominant that it was used for the entire 1992 season – the rest is history.
The manual provides a detailed account of the design, development and anatomy of the car, including the Renault V10 engine, the car’s pioneering electronic-control systems, and the story of the in-house-developed active suspension system, with input from many of the key engineers involved. A wealth of previously unpublished material from the Williams Heritage Archive, including technical drawings and team documentation, provides unique insight into the engineering and operation of this ground-breaking car.
The FW14B set the template for the F1 cars of today by spearheading the use of electronic control systems on racing cars, a feature the manual explores in depth. Although engine manufacturers had been using electronic control units for several years, the FW14B was the first car to incorporate an electronic control unit to control chassis systems, including the active suspension, gearbox, traction control and clutch.
Published almost 25 years since the car was first tested, in July 1991 by Damon Hill at Silverstone, the manual includes numerous contemporary photographs, as well as detailed images of the car today in the Williams Heritage workshop.
Drivers Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese provide new insight into their experiences behind the wheel of the car, along with personal anecdotes of the 1992 season. Mansell, who took 14 pole positions and 9 wins from the season’s 16 races, says:
“The thing that was quite extraordinary with the FW14B was the sheer brute force that was required from the driver to hang on to the car. Because there was no power steering, the physicality of driving the car was brutal, and that’s what the current drivers will never experience in the present era of Formula 1, because they have power steering and various other things.”
The manual is written by F1 enthusiast Steve Rendle, author and editor of numerous Haynes manuals. Steve commented: “It has been a privilege to speak to so many of the people involved in the Williams FW14B story, a number of whom are still working at the team today, and to hear first-hand about the challenges and successes of working with the car. Twenty five years ago the engineering team that designed, developed and ran the FW14B was far smaller than is the case with F1 teams today, and the regulations allowed a talented group of engineers free rein to exploit their innovative ideas and technical prowess.”
Talking about the development of the car, Steve said: “The car’s electronic systems were revolutionary, and the active suspension system provided a stable platform to fully exploit the car’s excellent aerodynamics. These factors, along with the Renault V10 engine, semi-automatic gearbox, traction control, fuel, tyres, and many other factors, not forgetting of course a team of talented and versatile engineers and two highly competitive drivers, came together in a perfect storm to contribute to the success of one of the most dominant F1 cars of all time. The manual examines these factors in detail to tell the engineering and human stories behind the Williams FW14B.”
About the author
Steve Rendle has spent much of his career as a technical writer and editor with Haynes Publishing. A lifelong motorsport devotee, his passion for F1 began as a teenager in 1981, after a family trip to a thrilling British Grand Prix at Silverstone, where John Watson took victory in front of an ecstatic crowd – a scenario repeated in 1992 when Nigel Mansell won in the Williams FW14B.
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