joeblogsf1 | The real stories from inside the F1 paddock
Posted in F1 Drivers | 59 Comments »
Jonathan Williams 1942 – 2014
September 1, 2014 by Joe Saward
Jonathan Williams has died in Spain at the age of 71.
The son of a British Royal Air Force Squadron Leader, Williams was born during the Second World War when his father was stationed in Egypt. He was brought up in England and attended the exclusive Cheltenham College public school and then headed for London to study at Chelsea College. Williams began motor racing with a Mini which he raced illegally on old airfields with a group of friend that included Piers Courage and Sheridan Thynne. He became part of a gang of racersin London that included Courage, Charlie Lucas Charlie Crichton-Stuart and Frank Williams. After his initial experiments at racing he switched to proper events and in 1962 he bought an Austin A40 and scored 12 wins in a saloon car series at Brands Hatch, finishing second overall. The following year he jumped straight into Formula Junior on the continent, driving for the Merlyn team, before crashing and injuring himself at Monaco. He next bought a Formula 3 Lotus and with Courage founded Anglo-Swiss Racing, based in Lausanne, Switzerland. The two friends travelled to the most lucrative Formula 3 races around Europe but did not have much success because it was not as grand an organisation as the title suggested. In 1965 Williams joined Charles Lucas Engineering Ltd which was a rather more successful operation and the end of that year was offered a paid drive by the De Sanctis company in Italy. It was an offer which he could not refuse and it brought him victories in the Mediterranean GP F3 race at Enna and in the famous Monza Lottery race. His driving attracted the attention of Enzo Ferrari and he was retained by Ferrari in 1967 to race in Formula 2. The car was slow arriving and Ferrari allowed him to race for De Sanctis in the Monza Lottery – which he won again. At the end of the season Williams made his Grand Prix debut in the second Ferrari at the Mexican GP, standing in for the injured Mike Parkes. He finished eighth but Ferrari felt it was a disappointing performance. That would be his only F1 race but in 1968 he won the Monza Lotteria for a third time but his international career faded as Enzo Ferrari’s enthusiasm for him waned and his interest switched to newcomers Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell. For a while Williams raced sports cars, notably at Le Mans in 1970 when he co-drove the Porsche 908/02 which carried cameras for the Le Mans movie. He signed for Carlo Abarth to develop a V8 F1 car but this failed to materialise and the only F1 work he did after was to test Courage’s de Tomaso F1 car. He did a few F2 races with a Church Farm Racing Brabham and won the Monza Lotteria for a third time in a Frank Williams-run Brabham. He went on to race sporadically for Ron Harris’s Tecno team and for de Tomaso in the Temporada series in South America. In the same period he raced sports and touring cars and Formula 5000. In 1970 he raced at Le Mans driving a Porsche 908 camera car which Williams shared with Herbert Linge and was given a small acting role as a character called Jonathan Burton. After the 1971 Targa Florio he retired from racing and switched his attention to flying, initially doing air displays and later as a pilot of executive jets. Based in the south of France he followed that lifestyle until the 1990s when he decided to change his lifestyle and travelled southern Europe in a small motor home with his companion Linda, working as a writer and photographer.