With Renault no longer officially involved in F1, Williams commits to a two-year supply of customer engines based on the French V10. The engines are rebadged Mecachrome for the ’98 season. BMW announces it will return to F1 as the engine partner for Williams beginning in 2000. There’s a major overhaul of the technical regulations aimed at improving the spectacle. The cars are narrower and they run on grooved tyres, much to the dismay of the drivers. "They feel so unstable compared to slicks," says Jacques Villeneuve. On-track, Williams struggles to keep pace with the McLarens and Ferraris. The team finishes third in the constructors’ title and fails to win a race for the first time in 10 years. In September ChampCar champion Alex Zanardi has his first test for Williams ahead of a race seat with the team in ’99, when he will replace Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Away from F1, Williams launched a new car that was to compete at Le Mans, in association with BMW.
Engine: Mecachrome V10
GPs Contested: 16
Fastest Laps: 0
Constructors Championship: 3rd, 38 points.
Drivers Championship: Villeneuve, 5th; Frentzen, 7th
Jacques Villeneuve's third place in the German Grand Prix, in which he finished just 2.7s behind race winner Mika Hakkinen.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Williams FW20 did not suffer a single mechanical failure that was attributable to the team.