Karun Chandhok, racing at Le Mans with the Tockwith Motorsport Ligier LMP2 effort was happy to chat to DSC about a recent outing in pair of very significant Williams machines as part of the Williams F1 40th anniversary celebrations at Silverstone earlier this month.
“I drove their current F1 car, and had to be very careful, the FW40 car was being freighted to Canada for this weekend’s race as soon as we finished!” He said. “It was something very special to be allowed to drive a current car.
“It was also the first time I had experienced 1000 horsepower and wow! The power was something else!!”
The other Williams that he was down to drive though was, if anything, much, much more special: Nigel Mansell’s title winning Williams FW14B, the V10 Renault powered beast complete with fully-functioning active suspension. It was a real crowd pleaser in period, and that was still the case in 2017:
The active ride was a real head scratcher, so many things to get your head around
“The car was amazingly original,” he said. “It had not been run since being switched off after Adelaide in 1992 after Nigel won the title!
“What a privilege, but what a car! The active ride was a real head scratcher though, so many things to get your head around. The idea is to keep the car flat through the corners, to get the best aero grip possible so the car responds electronically to steering input in ways that you simply wouldn’t expect from any other car.
“It was popping a wheel up into a turn to allow the car to push as much air as possible through the car, the car has effectively got a blown diffuser too,” he explained, “the idea there is that with a flat platform you can get onto the power way earlier, and when you’re on the power something like 36% of the aero grip is generated by the blown diffuser at the rear, that gives you massive grip that gets better the more you are on the throttle!
“Then the car does something else you don’t expect, whilst any other car you’d be feeling the rear end squat down under power and load, in this car the active system operates in the opposite way, dipping the nose to the best aero solution. Just amazing but just so opposite to what your brain is telling you it should be doing.
“Nigel did a fantastic job with the car in period, and he was there on the day too which made it even more special.
The public loved it, and so did the Williams boys
“The public loved it, and so did the Williams boys. I was only due to do a couple of laps but every time I pitted they fuelled it again and sent me out. I ended up doing something like 25 laps!”
The event attracted a gaggle of current and ex-Williams stars including World Champions Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Alan Jones and Keke Rosberg (plus son Nico), David Coulthard, Mark Webber, Ricardo Patrese, Filipe Massa and Lance Stroll. Steve Soper was also there, on hand to drive the 1999 BMW LMR, designed by Williams.
Some 40,000 spectators were on hand too, making for a busy and atmospheric day at the ‘Home of British Motor Sport’.
Photos courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography