Jonathan James Williams was a British driver who left his mark in the F3 of the 60s, before competing in a race driving a Ferrari in Formula One in 1967, during the Mexican Grand Prix. Williams, a friend but not a relative of the legendary Sir Frank Williams, died on the August 31st, 2014 at the age of 71, in Spain.

I would like to do a brief review of the career of the English man, a pilot who was esteemed and desired by Enzo Ferrari himself, before speaking, in my next articles, about more famous and recent pilots. But the life and career of Williams are interesting because they are a testimony of the early years of Formula One.

Jonathan James Williams was born in Cairo on October 26th, 1942, and began competing in the late 50s while studying at the Chelsea College of Aeronautical & Automobile Engineering. The British boy, just over 18 years old, definitely spent more time illegally running around his Mini along the streets of a local airport, rather than studying heavy schoolbooks. Williams did so with a friend of his age and fellow countryman, Piers Courage, the future pilot of Lotus, BRM, and Brabham, who tragically passed away in Zandvoort in 1970, during the Grand Prix of Holland.

In 1960 Jonathan took part in his first races, and two years later he enrolled in the Brands Hatch Molyslip Saloons series, driving an Austin A40 purchased by himself. The British rider made a good impression finishing second in the standings, collecting as many as twelve victories.

In 1963 he began his debut in Formula Junior, achieving, as best result, the third place in Dresden. The following season he realized the dream so coveted with his friend Courage, namely the landing at the F3 with their team. The two British guys bought a pair of Lotus 22 and founded a non-existent team-organization in Lausanne, named Anglo-Swiss Racing.

The results obtained in the race by the two pilots attracted the attention of Charles Lucas, who offered them a contract during 1965, providing two Brabham. Williams and Courage obtained a total of six victories, but the latter moved into the top series, while Williams into the Italian F3, competing for some championships without winning the title. It was especially in 1966, behind the wheel of De Sanctis, that Jonathan won the most beautiful victories, attracting the attention of Enzo Ferrari who offered him a contract to compete with Maranello’s team.

The "Great Old Man" offered a monthly salary to Williams, but the deal was not exactly crystal clear, since only after the first disbursement Enzo Ferrari explained to the British that half of the sum should have been guaranteed by the United Kingdom Shell. The latter, through one of his representatives, made it clear that there was no agreement with the Prancing Horse and the matter was settled with 1000 pounds.

Williams was mainly employed to test private cars and had the opportunity to perform some tests with the car ‘Dino 166 V6 F2’. He took part only in one race and retired after a few laps. He later participated in some duration races, including the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Targa Florio, placing fourth. He subsequently took part in other races in the CanAm championship with the NART team, before having the great opportunity to make his debut in Formula One at the end of 1967.

1967 had been a terrible year for the Ferrari of Maranello, due to the death of Lorenzo Bandini and the severe accident happened to Mike Parkes. At the time of the Grand Prix of Mexico, Williams, in theory, a reserve of Chris Amon, was unexpectedly convened by the Prancing Horse to take part in the weekend race.

The British man from Cairo found himself, undoubtedly, in a not easy situation, given that he got into the car when the qualifications had already started and on a car that was set for Amon, definitely higher than Jonathan. Williams scored a disappointing third from bottom, but in the race he was able to make a good comeback that led him to finish eighth under the checkered flag, right in front of Chris, his old partner with the P4.

During a Ferrari F1 test in Modena, Williams had a bad accident that prematurely ended his career in Formula One, given that the Enzo Ferrari preferred Mister Jacky Ickx to him because the first was considered the talent of the future. To make the boss of Ferrari takes this decision, it also seemed to play a role some behaviors held by Williams, not particularly appreciated by the Modenese entrepreneur.

After concluding the Ferrari experience, Williams' career in Formula 1 seemed to continue, since Carlo Abarth wanted him to make his car debut in the premier category. However, the onset did not go ahead, and Jonathan had to settle for some tests with the De Tomaso car.

During 1968, Williams raced in Formula 2 and won the Grand Prix of the Lottery in Monza, before taking part in the Temporada, finishing 17th in the standings. After that, the British man took part in some races in touring cars, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the City Cup of Enna, a trophy that concluded second. Williams was the protagonist at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, during the 1970 edition, for a non-competitive factor, since the famous actor Steve McQueen chose his car to install cameras to shoot a film about the event. The year after, Williams took part in the last trophy of his career, The Targa Florio, before definitively retiring from the racing world, when he was just 28 years old.

In the following years, taking advantage of his aeronautical patent, Williams began his career as a private jet pilot for multimillionaires and multinationals, doing this job for twenty years, before retiring to private life.

Jonathan died at the age of 71 on August 31st, 2014, in Spain. Of his memory remains the old-fashioned racing spirit, spotless and fearless, and a life dedicated to racing with great passion and ruthlessness, without ever forgetting the F3 1966 season, where he overtook future great racers like Regazzoni and Brambilla.

Thank you and I hope you liked my first article related to Formula One.