Features - Technical

SEPTEMBER 10, 1995

Patrick Head


If there is a single person who deserves the title of Senior Engineer in Grand Prix racing during the 1980's and 90's, it is Patrick Head.

If there is a single person who deserves the title of Senior Engineer in Grand Prix racing during the 1980's and 90's, it is Patrick Head. Apparently imperturbable to the point of gruffness, he has created a succession of fundamentally safe, sound and fast Formula 1 cars, that have won 81 GP's and brought Williams Grand Prix Engineering 7 Constructors' World Championships.

Comparisons with Colin Chapman, who dominated the 1960's and 70's, are inevitable. Chapman led the revolution in GP car form and layout, consolidating the innovations of rear-engine, aerodynamic downforce, lightweight structures and suspension design. Patrick has perfected the result and led the revolution in applying computer controls to chassis systems. In an era when the layout of the cars has been largely determined by regularly changing Technical Regulations, the laurels have gone to whoever made the best job of it on the day.

Chapman, when faced by the drought following the success of the T72 and unable to match the resources of Ferrari, turned to long term Research and Development to engineer Lotus' way back to the front. Patrick, confronted by the need to beat the McLaren machine, with it's TAG and Marlboro resources and Prost, Lauda and Senna, committed Williams to a long term strategy of R&D, that bore fruit as the 90's began.

Only Colin Chapman and Patrick Head have possessed both the engineering vision and position to make this type of commitment, and maybe this is why, between them, they have been the dominant influence in the design and engineering of Formula 1 cars for the last three and a half decades.

Born in 1946, Patrick was brought up in an environment that nurtured rather than actively encouraged his mechanical and automotive ability. His father had been in the Royal Artillery during the war, retaining a peacetime military career in the War Office, that included becoming Military Adviser to Sir Solly Zuckerman, Chief Scientist to the British Government. In the mid-1950's he raced Jaguars, preparing them himself in the garage at home. Patrick does not recall that as a 10-12 year old he made much contribution to the preparation of the cars, being more interested in radio-controlled model aircraft, which he made, modified and later designed himself.

The influence of a technically minded father, fast cars and motor racing had their effect however; besides, real cars are more accessible to teenagers than real aeroplanes. Technical drawing, learnt among other things at Wellington College, was put to good use in the design of a tiny hill-climb car. Powered by a Triumph motorcycle engine mated to a Norton gearbox, and supercharged by compressed air stored in a cylinder (theoretically possible due to the short duration of hill-climbs), Patrick and a friend drew and calculated out the whole device ......what a pity it was never built. A more than passing interest in Grand Prix racing started around this time, when Jimmy Clark was battling with Graham Hill - Lotus against B.R.M.

Encouraged by his father to enter the Navy, Patrick won a scholarship that would have also taken him to Cambridge to read Engineering. However bad advice led him to believe that this would commit him to the Navy for life and he executed a quick U-turn after 3 months of "....pulling ropes at Dartmouth!" An abortive year at Birmingham University was followed by 3 years at University College London, to complete his formal education.

Of equal or greater value, in Patrick's view, were extra curricula activities. Whilst at university he drove and navigated in rallies in a highly modified Hillman Imp, both engine and increasingly lowered chassis getting the Head treatment. Vacation jobs provided hands-on engineering experience and useful facilities and advice in modifying the Imp. He worked at Fergusons (now FFD) and Westlake, who were at that time developing the Aubrey Woods designed 3-litre Eagle V-12 for Dan Gurney's All American Racers.

Patrick: "They had a wonderful project while I was down at Harry Westlake's. Somebody had sent them an engine called a Bradshaw, and it arrived in a cardboard box. It was basically a toroidal chamber with pistons which filled a section of the toroid, attached to two crosses, such that, as they went round, gearing superimposed an oscillation on the rotary motion. Intakes, exhaust and spark plugs were arranged around the periphery of the chamber. I was asked to find out how this engine worked, assemble it and install it on a dynamometer so that it could be evaluated.

"There was no inlet manifold or carburettor, so I got an Amal and made an inlet manifold, assembled the whole contraption and put it on the dyno. It happened that Dan Gurney turned up on the day we were due to start it up, and watched from outside the dyno. room, behind the bullet-proof glass. Anyway, this Bradshaw engine started up - the guy had said that it was perfectly balanced and would rev. to umpteen thousand RPM - the only problem was that in the gearcasing, at the back of the engine, he had made all the gears himself, with a file or something! The pitch of the teeth were all irregular and I had to do an incredible amount of lapping - the quality of build was awful.

"Anyway it did start and run, and I fiddled about with the carburettor and sorted out a few things. Dan Gurney was outside and encouraging us to give it the berries. While it was idling at a few hundred RPM a cloud of smoke gradually built up in the dyno. room. Eventually we gave it some more RPM, only about 2,500, when suddenly there was a mighty BANG! and the whole of the glass window disappeared in a mess of oil and metal. Slowly the murk cleared and all we could see through the smoke were the feet of the gearcase, and the toroidal chamber, with bits of cast iron and aluminium all over the place.

"It all got collected up, put back in the box and sent back to Mr Bradshaw. I don't think his concept was properly evaluated at all....."

Was this experience the source of one of Patrick's most obvious hallmarks? - It is not possible to make a full evaluation of something if it has not been engineered properly in the first place.

Towards the end of Patrick's time at university, he decided he wanted to go Clubman's racing. A legacy from a distant relative provided the means, and a trip to see Arthur Mallock ensued.

"I decided that Arthur Mallock didn't really know what he was doing, and that the U-2 should have an independent rear end on it. He was actually very, very kind, and instead of telling me what an idiot I was, and that I should get out there in a standard car before trying anything, he said that I could buy the front this much of a new U-2, Mark 8b, - putting a line here on the drawing! He reckoned that it was about two thirds of the length, so I could pay him two thirds of the price of a new chassis - only about £120, incredibly cheap! He literally did it by length and said I could do what I liked on the back of it.

"So in my last year at university - goodness knows where I found the time - I built a U-2, with a Mark 8b front end and an incredibly, excessively complex, Head independent rear end, built around a Lotus Elite final drive. With a friend, who provided the engine and gearbox, we went off racing."

The help and encouragement that Patrick received from Mallock senior must have been instrumental in his next, first step towards a career in motor racing. On leaving university he phoned Lola and asked to speak to Eric Broadley. On being put through, a brief introduction gained him an interview.

"I popped into my car, drove up there. He saw me for literally no more than five minutes and suggested I start on Monday."

Patrick counters any suggestion that Broadley spotted a great talent in a five minute interview, by making the point that it was probably easiest to take someone on, see if they were any good, and if not, fire them.

It did not take long, while working on a wide variety of cars at Lola, to spot that a large number of Super-Vees were going out of the door without really having a suitable engine to power them. Joining up with Geoff Richardson, Patrick started up a business to produce Head Super-Vee engines, hoping to do a deal with Lola for all their cars to be sold with them.

Also around that time he was contacted by Michael Caine to look at Richard Scott's Brabham BT38 Formula 2 car. He had hardly started work on it when Geoff Richardson called up to announce that his factory had been destroyed by fire and Patrick's investment with it. Fortunately he persuaded Michael Caine that there was enough wrong with the BT38 that a new car was needed, and set to work with a drawing board and wooden T-square "underneath the arches" in Battersea. The car showed all the Head hallmarks of a neat, light, integrated design, benefiting from every part having been drawn - a rare practice, even in Formula 1, in the mid 1970's. As a young engineer at Team Lotus, I can remember Colin Chapman spending quite a long time, one day at Silverstone, looking at it and asking who had designed it.

The car showed enormous promise, but the project was under-resourced. Scott retired after a bad crash, but the car eventually won several races as a Formula Atlantic.

With all the motor racing projects going wrong, Patrick decided that there was no future in the business and devoted his time to the construction of a ferro-concrete hulled, two masted sailing yacht. Doing most of the work himself, while learning the skills in the process, the boat was eventually completed and subsequently sold to a couple who are sailing it around the world. In the midst of this project Frank Williams called.

From that moment on Patrick's professional life has been the subject of many thousands of words. I was more interested in what lay behind the visible engineering products of one of the most successful partnerships in motor racing history.

Did any of the cars he has designed give him particular pleasure? While not an totally original concept, the FW07 was, to Patrick, the most satisfying. Designed at the end of 1978, he grasped the ground effect principles, demonstrated by the Lotus T79 in dominating Grand Prix racing that year, and built the car that Lotus should have built instead of the T80.

Just one week of model testing in the Imperial College wind tunnel showed him the features that really mattered: the minimisation or elimination of the front wings, by getting the shape of the underside of the pods right; and skirts that worked all the time. Focusing on developing these features and integrating them into a classic Head car - simple, light and elegant - resulted in a design that lasted for four seasons. Winning 16 GP's, it brought Alan Jones one, and Williams two World Championships.

Grasping the concepts that mattered, and then getting the engineering right, so that it all worked straight off, including those nightmare skirt systems, was to Patrick a source of great satisfaction. Unlike the FW09.....

"The FW09 was a car where the engine was at least as bad as the chassis. Although it was quite powerful at the top end, it had absolutely zero response, and then it was a question of how long it would last before melting it's pistons down.

"We had a big mountain to climb that year, because when Honda first supplied the engine, it was a classic: they sent along a bare engine and two turbochargers in a box; no exhaust systems, no inlets and no intercoolers; not even any paper work to tell us how much heat had to be dissipated. It was really quite interesting because it was start from scratch. We rang them up and asked: "What about intercoolers?" They said: "Do what ever you think". It was the same with exhausts. So we sat down and started calculating everything, putting numbers to air mass flows, pressure rises and how many kilowatts we had to get rid of. Of course Honda have come a long way since then."

Patrick does not admit to coveting any other particular design of modern Formula 1 car, but does wish he had realised sooner the potential of carbon fibre for primary structures. He already had experience with the foam-cored wing-end plates, and other non-structural components supplied by Advanced Composites. In an accident they disappeared into a million pieces, whereas the aluminium honeycomb-cored monocoques that Williams were racing, absorbed energy in a crash by crumpling. What was it that inspired both John Barnard and Lotus to take the bold step to a carbon fibre monocoque? I get the impression it bothers Patrick that he missed it.

When looking up and down the pit lane Patrick is impressed by the high overall standard of design in Formula 1, particularly by teams such as Jordan who are not as well resourced as Williams. Since designing the Richard Scott Formula 2 car, by himself with board and T-square, he has seen the process change to one that requires 10-15 designers and engineers, all equiped with CAD and CAE systems, but the satisfaction is not the same.

"When I designed the FW06, with just Neil Oatley, who had no racing car experience, to help me, I could hold the whole car in my head. If anyone asked me at the time, what any dimension of any part was, I could have told them: "SNAP", just like that. It was the same with 07, even after Frank Dernie joined us.

"Now with 15 or 20 people I can't say: "I designed that". It is a different pleasure managing a large group of people, all working together, integrating them so that all their bits come together. I still understand how it all works, but quite a lot of the processes, such as FE analysis, software development and of course electronic design, I cannot do myself."

There is something about CAD that does not allow the creative process full rein in the same way that pencil, paper, rubber and a set of French curves do. Patrick acknowledges that the software is getting better all the time in this respect, but when laying out a new transmission or suspension system, he prefers to sketch it freehand before firming up the lines and refining it. Adrian Newey works in the same way on the car's layout, aerodynamics and monocoque. The results are then turned over to CAD designers to develop the concept, check it all fits together and detail it. CAD does not yet allow him the quick sketch approach to helping sort out how it is all going to work in his head.

Does Patrick enjoy managing? "I would have to say: "No!", but without it, it is a disasterous mess. If I get on the drawing board and draw something that contributes to the whole I get much more pleasure from it than any amount of managing.

"Managing groups of people involves a lot of compromise, allowing for different personalities. You have to persuade people to do jobs, while pretending you are not doing so. Because of egos, particularly with the young engineers, you can't just say: "Do this", even though you want to. You have to tell them in such a way that they believe they are taking on a project and are going to do it in their own way!"

Patrick undoubtably rues the loss of the personal, hands-on approach to design, but even more he laments the loss of technical adventure in Formula 1. When talking about ground effect, 6-wheelers, active systems and the CVT, an excitement enters his voice.

"These projects were a bit of a dash in the dark but done for good reasons. We want to achieve this, this and this; how can we do it? They were each of them projects where you knew that if you could make them work correctly, the principle was there - principles that would fundamentally make the car faster. Even if you went out and had a disasterous test, with the car spinning off the track, oil spewing out all over the place, we didn't come back saying: "Oh, that was a silly idea". We knew we had just not achieved what we set out to do, and that the principle was still sound.

"Take the CVT - we plan to run it again - when we tested it we did not have sufficient control to ensure that the engine was always at the optimum RPM. Often we could see that the car would take more power, but that the engine revs. were low because the control had got the ratio wrong. These problems were solvable in time, and had nothing to do with the principle of whether a CVT could handle these sort of power densities."

Johnathan Palmer's performance in the 6-wheeler at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year, when he took the course record off the 1994 Mclaren-Peugeot, obviously pleases Patrick and provided some vindication in the eyes of the world for the concept. Palmer really liked the car as he could break the rear end loose, and instead of "going over the hill" like modern cars, it "...sort of came up against a wall, and he could keep his foot in it."

The racing version (only a proof-of-concept prototype was ever built) was predicted to be about 12 seconds faster around Paul Ricard, than a conventional car....according to Frank Dernie's wind tunnel figures and the Lap Simulation programme.

"I quite like the processes of designing a car and making it reliable, getting it onto the track and making all the decisions about running and developing it, and winning races. It makes for a nice foundation. On top of that, I always like to be working on something new, like the CVT or Active Ride; while it would be lying to say that we have got nothing new in the pipeline, we have nothing of that scale. No real adventure.

"As an engineer, and maybe it is a slightly cynical view, I would have to say that the whole motivation, the whole driving force behind Formula 1 now seems to be completely commercial, and TV. I don't think that the Powers That Be give a tupenny-damn what the cars are, as long as they make good television. I think it is a pity that we are so tied up - maybe we are being un-inventive - but there is nothing in overall concept that we are looking at, no revolution."

Patrick's partnership with Frank Williams is based on long lasting mutual respect, trust and support, rather than strong personal friendship. This probably explains why it has been so successful, where many relationships would not have survived the sort of difficulties they have overcome.

"Frank and I work together very well. He is interested, without really understanding the technical side. He leaves it to me while looking after the financials. We occassionally ask each other about the other's side, but really we do our own things.

"Frank is very good. He doesn't question every test, however badly it has gone. If I say: "Look Frank, there is potential performance in this; it is just a question of getting it right", he will say: "If you think it is right, then go for it!". Then he backs me and the engineers, with both moral and financial support.

"I can't imagine being able to find anyone else with whom I could have a similar working relationship."

Over the years at Williams, Patrick has seen dozens of young aspiring engineers who have beaten a path to his office door. A few have ended up working for him. Thinking back to his early days in the business, how have they changed?

"Lots of engineers now don't appear to have any interest in getting in close to the hardware. This sort of engineering snobbery should be getting less and less with the years. I think that they believe that getting in and doing it yourself is demeaning. They want to give people instructions and let them actually do it.

"Of course there is a mixed spectrum, but in general they are much more specialised. You don't find many with a broad knowledge, from one end to the other. And there is more knowledge than understanding. It is hard nowdays to find creativity.

"Given half a chance they will go out and order a 50 grand rig for measuring this and that. They want to go straight from zero to perfection, just like that! They don't seem to have any idea of saying: "Look, for £500 we can make something that will take us 95% of the way to finding out what we want to know; or at least tell us how much trouble we are in". They don't seem to have that approach. They will always go for the test rig that has strain-gauges, load cells, potentiometers all feeding into a computer and automatically plotting the results out. We don't measure anything now with dial gauges or hang weights on it - no one would even think of doing it that way, even if it only took a few minutes - not technical enough.

"I don't pooh-pooh that way of doing things, it's just that we have lost the ready-reckoner approach. Every now and again we get some massive error made on a calculator or computer. When I started, I used a slide rule, and you had to have a ready-reckonned order of magnitude in your head to get the decimal point in the right place, and I think that is a very good thing."

There tend to be fewer and fewer big technical and engineering adventures left in the world, and those that are there are handled by big companies with thousands of engineers, the individual only getting some small part to work on.

"We are getting further and further away from, to take it to it's extreme, the days when Brunel got down in the mud of the Thames tunnel and did it himself.

"I almost feel embarrased for our engineers. When I started at Lola, on the first day I worked on a Can-Am car, albeit only designing a seat bracket, and four days later was working on a Formula Ford. Then I assisted Eric Broadley on this Indy car, with a great big Ford Turbo V-8 - all sorts of different types. Lots of variety.

"When designers come to me now and say: "Do I have to do the cockpit and pedals again this year?". I think: "Oh God. OK , he doesn't want to do that. Who can I put on it?". The trouble is that we haven't got things to move the guys at the top on to - we are just doing Formula 1, and that's it. We tend to do the same thing over and over again.

"I see some of our senior engineers becoming, not bored because they are interested in engineering, but not really challenged by it; not fired up like motor racing fired me up. It's becoming just a job to them, and I suspect they don't think about it from Friday to Monday. They get their adventure doing something else, like orienteering."

Is winning important?

"I have to say that winning is very important..................actually, I don't think I get any pleasure out of winning at all. It almost sounds like a Ron Dennis way of saying things, but I absolutely detest not winning.

"You go to a race track to win. OK, we have been privileged with drivers and engines over the last ten years, with very little exception, to have the equipment to give us little excuse for not winning. Therefore if you do anything other than win, you have failed really. I hate that feeling of failure."

When it comes to driving, Patrick's own competitive career has been limited to rallying while at University, and occasionally driving the Mallock U-2. He soon realised that his skills were in the province of development and preparation and left his partner to do most of the driving. Celebrity outings and a few single-seater test drives have caused him to believe that maybe he was more capable than he thought back in his twenties.

"Damon finds that I talk to him in a way that he thinks that I think, that I can do a better job than he can. I don't of course!

"In my more fanciful moments I do sometimes think about doing some weekend racing in a Formula Ford. When you look at a Van Diemen, for instance, it is a wonderful car. It has got all the fancy, push rod suspension, nice bodywork and a really strong chassis protecting the driver. Of course, I haven't got the time."

Of the drivers that Patrick has worked closely with over the years, Alan Jones and Ayrton Senna stand out. Jones as the most enjoyable, and Senna as the most interesting. Surprisingly Patrick considers that they had significant similarities.

"Alan certainly was the most enjoyable. He was totally at ease with being a racing driver. Of course we were all a similar age then, whereas I could be David Coulthard's dad.

"Though we operated with Ayrton for such a short time - we were in the honeymoon period, and I'm sure he could be a right bastard with you if he thought the team wasn't pulling properly - he was so thoughtful and clinical in his way of operating. If we sat him down and said: "Look Ayrton, what do you think of doing this?", though he didn't understand the deeper technical issues, you could explained to him what, as an engineer, you were trying to do. He would sit and think, take it all on board, go out in the car, come in and sit and think again. Then you would get a clear, concise summary of all that happened out there, prioritised correctly. But he would never tell you anything until he had seen the tyre temperature and pressure sheet and was sure that they had been right.

"I thought he had a really organised brain. He would have been a brilliant person to work with, and I really miss not having had a full opportunity to do so.

"Alan was very good at testing also. He was so competitive and aggressive about going quicker and beating the other guy. When he tested something he would come in and tell you about what was most important. Then, when you had talked about that and taken it all in, he would go on to the next most important, and so on. Now our drivers dump the whole lot on you:- foot rubbing on the monocoque, engine response characteristics, handling balance - all in one go and in any order.

"Alan was like Ayrton in understanding and focusing you on what was important. If he had not retired I believe he would have gone down as a much bigger figure than he did."

Among Patrick's unrealised ambitions is the opportunity to do more with engines, in which he has always had a close interest. Back in the late 1970's and early 80's, Williams were running the Cosworth DFV and saw the impending dominanace of the turbos, without the immediate prospect of getting their hands on one. Patrick, Frank Williams and Chris Walters, with whom they were working on valve gear to get more RPM out of the DFV, went to see Kieth Duckworth. In Patrick's view, Duckworth had the "....most major and brilliant impact on racing engine design of any single person ever. The FVA and DFV were two most outstanding engines."

"In the process of designing the DFV, I think Kieth knocked most of the stuffing out of himself. He said directly to me: "You young whipper-snappers should stick to things you understand, and keep your noses out of things you don't understand". At that time Cosworth were getting about 475 bhp out of the DFV, and we eventually got 540 out of the Judd built units. I think Cosworth did get about the same out of the DFY."

Williams also wished to develop an electronic Engine Management System, in collaboration with Walter Scheerhag's Contactless company. It would have replaced the Lucas Opus ignition and mechanical fuel injection. Contactless quoted about £20,000 for the whole project.

"Remember how awful those engines sounded going down the pit lane, compared to the almost shopping engines now. Anyway, off we went to Cosworths again. Cosworth told us: "There is absolutely no potential to improve the engine with an engine management system". Unfortunately it was one of those times I had a golden opportunity in front of me, and I let myself be persuaded to turn my back on it. Cosworths have always been a bit head-in-the-sand, and even now are a bit old fashioned."

Patrick does not see Williams getting involved in Formula 1 engines now that only the motor manufacturers have the wherewithal to be successful, but he did look into aircraft engines. About 4 years ago he went into the possibility of setting up a business to design, develop and produce light aircraft engines, replacements for Continentals and Lycomings. These engines are fundamentally very old designs, ".........from the dark ages.........", and Patrick fancied a business he could be involved in on his retirement from motor racing. He describes the light aircraft industry as ".....being full of fascinating, unconventional characters". He believes that the potential is there, but on investigation, the up-front costs were too high.

Right now he is toying with the idea of buying a Berkut - a tidied up version of Burt Rutan's Long-Ez canard aircraft. The performance - more than 250 knots on just 215 hp - is nearly twice that of the nearest Cessna, and the new Williams factory site has lots of land.......

Although Patrick has had a long lasting love of sailing, and currently a share in a yacht on the Isle of Wight, the interest is in the activity rather than the technology.

"The idea of actually navigating myself and managing myself is very attractive. I'm not a particularly insular person, so I don't want to sail single-handed around the world - if one could get half a dozen girls to come too, that would be fine - but I would like to see how I would deal with the nasty things the sea can throw at you. I would like to use the old navigation methods, you know, sextant and Naval Observatory tables. I am actually fully qualified in astral navigation, but it was a long time ago."

Any impression this may give that Williams are about to lose their Technical Director to a retirement devoted to the pleasures of flying and sailing, are far from the truth. There have, however, been times when Patrick considered giving it all up. In 1982, when they were very few in the Design Office, he feels he took the responsibility too seriously and came to believe that he could not take the pressure continuously.

"Frank sat me down and persuaded me to take a more relaxed view of things, so I got over that. I realised that it is a massively privileged career, with downsides. But nowadays even the pressure and working hours are not so unusual, compared to any other business.

"Then there was Ayrton's accident. We had never had anyone else hurt in any way in a Williams before. Whether there was a structural failure on the car, or what ever caused the car to leave the track, it certainly wasn't Ayrton's fault. There was a problem with the car; either it was too low and whacking the bottom on the road, or the steering column failed or the suspension failed. What ever happened, it was a technical problem, and it has obviously caused me to think very hard about my position in that.

"I have to take responsibility for every bit of work done by Williams, whether design by a draughtsman, or assembly by a mechanic. Ultimately I am responsible for the standards set in the factory, training programmes, monitoring systems. As it gets very large you realise that it is far too big a responsibility for one man to keep in touch with, and it is only the methods and systems and procedures that keep it under control. The problem is that they all slow you and the company down, and then everyone looks for ways to bypass them.

"If I ever had a really serious think about stopping, it has to be after Ayrton's accident. In thinking about the level of responsibility in detail, after a bit you sit back and say: "I'm not sure I can carry this", because it is inevitable that one day something else will happen. I still haven't fully sorted out in my mind how I view the responsibility, but I have sorted out the bit that says: "Oh hell, I can't take this, I must stop." That bit is dealt with. But sorting out all of it - it is obviously a pretty big impact having someone killed in a car that I have been centrally involved with, and which came out of the company of which I'm Technical Director - that, I haven't done yet."

Patrick's approach to coming to terms with the aftermath of such a traumatic event is to deal with the issues systematically and thoroughly. I suspect he will only complete the task when it has been done, like everything else he tackles, to his own high standards.

I had planned to ask Patrick whether he had any regrets in his career to date, but the question was obviously superfluous.

If there is anyone Patrick would like to have impressed with what he has achieved, it is his father; an austere military engineer, with whom he pretty well fell out after he left the Navy and failed his Year 1 exams at Birmingham., and who died in 1970.

"I don't think he thought I would ever achieve very much. I didn't impress him. So I would like him to look down and see I haven't completely wasted my time. Of course, some might think that making racing cars go round and round is a waste of time....

"I certainly think I could have done a lot better than I have. There are so many times we could have done a better job or won more races than we did. So many of the things that didn't work, I look back on and think: "How stupid...." I don't think inside my inner core: "Patrick, you're a clever guy"; nor do I think I have an inferiority complex.

"I push myself quite hard. I used to have a hell of a struggle on the drawing board. I kept rubbing things out and having another go, and another and another....I didn't want to issue the drawings, because I knew inside myself that there were levels I could go to, to make it better. I didn't want to put it out and fix it in 3-dimensions. Whenever I see a finished result, I don't think: "Cor, that's good." I think: "Ugh....." I'm quite critical of what we do. That's why early Williams looked so simple - they were refined and refined.

"I learnt from others. I worked with Ron Tauranac for a short period that was not particularly successful or happy, but I learnt an enormous amount from him. I used to think that if you couldn't do it perfectly, you shouldn't do it at all. But he is so massively tenacious at doing something, a bit like the Japanese, which is probably why he had such a good relationship with Honda, and just kept on until it was right. I learnt tenacity from Ron, in a very short time."

"I am so busy, and have been for 25 years, that I would like some private time to go off sailing to learn about fundamentals of myself. Whereas now I go to work in the morning and am immediately on a roller-coaster, where I can think of nothing but work. I even do so on free weekends; about 20% of me is thinking how to solve this technical problem and that personnel issue.

"I'd like to not do that for ever."