The Williams FW10 was a Formula One car designed by Frank Dernie for use by the Williams team in the 1985 Formula One World Championship. It was powered by a Honda RA165E V6 turbo engine and driven by Englishman Nigel Mansell and Finn Keke Rosberg. An upgraded version of the car, dubbed the FW10B, was introduced late in the season, which enabled the team to win the final three races of the year.


The FW10 on display at the Honda Collection Hall in Japan.

1985 marked Williams' second full season with Honda turbo power. 1984 had been difficult, as the FW09 struggled to cope with the enormous power and brutal torque curve, leading to handling problems which afflicted drivers Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite throughout the season. Technical director Patrick Head thus decided to make the FW10 stiffer by making the monocoque entirely from carbon composite, rather than the aluminium honeycomb construction of previous years - the first Williams F1 car ever to be made predominantly of this material. This construction technique had been pioneered by the McLaren team with their MP4/1 in 1981, and was in the process of being adopted by the other teams for its combination of exceptional stiffness and lightness. In total, nine FW10 tubs were built; one was sent to Japan for Honda test driver Satoru Nakajima to drive, and one was a prototype to test the construction process.[3]

During 1985, Nigel Mansell wrote off two cars in accidents: the first when he went head-on into a barrier at Detroit, the second when he crashed heavily at Paul Ricard due to tyre blowout at over 200 mph (322 km/h), unwittingly setting the record for the highest-speed crash in Formula One. The Honda engine proved to be extremely powerful, with Head claiming around 1000–1250 bhp in qualifying, and up to 900 bhp (670 kW) in race configuration.[4]

Racing history

The team had a much better season than in the previous two years, scoring four wins and taking third place in the Constructors' Championship. During the early part of the season the cars made do with upgraded 1984 engines. Honda introduced a completely new RA165-E engine at Detroit, which had smaller turbos (with a very small drop-off in power which was recovered thanks to improved engine and turbo technology), and instantly the cars were on the pace, with both Rosberg and Mansell expressing delight in the power of the new engine and how much easier it was to drive being less 'peaky' with a much smoother power delivery. Rosberg won in Detroit, whilst further developments to the engine in the final stages of the season saw the FW10B win the final three races of the season which allowed Williams to snatch third place in the Constructors' Championship on a count-back from Lotus.[5]

Mansell, having joined the team from Lotus at the beginning of the year, took his first F1 victory on home soil at Brands Hatch for the European Grand Prix, and immediately followed it up with his second, in South Africa. Rosberg then took his second win of the season, and his fifth and final victory overall, at the last race of the season in Australia.[6]

During qualifying for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Rosberg lapped the 4.719 km (2.932 mi) circuit in his FW10 in a time of 1:05.591 for an average speed of 160.9 mph (258.9 km/h), the first time a Formula One car had broken the 160 mph barrier for a qualifying lap. This record would stand until 2002. Rosberg's achievement was made more impressive by the fact that he was running on slick qualifying tyres at a time when the track was damp from light rain, and he also had a deflating tyre for most of the lap.[7]

Autocourse picked the FW10 as the third-best car of 1985, behind the Lotus 97T and the McLaren MP4/2B, and the chassis also won Autosport magazine's "racing car of the year" award. The FW10 also acted as an important step-up for the team to 1986 and 1987, in which the FW11 was generally the class of the field.

The FW10 was the first Williams car to sport the distinctive yellow, blue and white livery that the team would use until the end of the 1993 season.

Complete Formula One results

(key) (Results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap.)

Year Team Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Points WCC
1985 Canon Williams Honda RA164E 1.5 V6t
Honda RA165E 1.5 V6t
Nigel Mansell Ret 5 5 7 6 Ret DNS Ret 6 Ret 6 11 2 1 1 Ret
Keke Rosberg Ret Ret Ret 8 4 1 2 Ret 12 Ret Ret Ret 4 3 2 1


  1. ^ "AT&T Williams F1". Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "1985". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Museum Highlight: Frank Williams' FW10". 12 August 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  5. ^ "1985 Williams FW10B Honda - Images, Specifications and Information". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Top 10 Mansell Moments". 5 January 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2019 – via
  7. ^ "Maximum attack - the day Rosberg averaged 160mph around Silverstone". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  • Hamilton, Maurice (ed.) (1985). AUTOCOURSE 1985-86. Hazleton Publishing. ISBN 0-905138-38-4.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
Preceded by
Racing Car Of The Year

Succeeded by