Williams had spent much of their 1982 testing working on the six-wheeled FW08B which was intended to be their main race car for 1983 but with the outlawing of six-wheelers as part of the new regulation package, it was back to the drawing board for Patrick Head and team. In the end, the FW08 was modified as the FW08C with a flat bottom and revised aerodynamics to compensate – like many teams, the sidepods were cut right back now they were no longer needed to provide width for the ground effects.
Frank Williams was still trying to do a deal for a turbo engine, and in the meantime independent engine tuner John Judd was brought in to get a few more horses out of the venerable Cosworth DFV while the team awaited the DFY. Saudia’s sponsorship commitments were reduced and their name relegated to the rear wing endplates, and Denim and TAG became more prominent, with new sponsor ICI adding a splash of yellow to the white and green car
Keke Rosberg remained with the team to defend his title, while Jacques Laffite arrived after his miserable 1982 with Ligier to replace Derek Daly in the second car.
Finland’s first race winner and first World Champion had had a real upward trajectory in 1982, going from being unable to hold down a seat at Fittipaldi, to signing for one of the top teams, to becoming team leader, to championship challenger, to winner. Luck had played its part, but there was no doubting his talent and drive. However, whether Williams would be able to provide him with the equipment to mount a successful title defence remained to be seen.
“Jolly Jacques”, who would turn 40 during the 1983 season, had become synonymous with the Ligier team since joining them from Frank Williams Racing in 1976, but not only had his 1982 been miserable, but he had been thoroughly outshone by Eddie Cheever and decided enough was enough. With Derek Daly disappointing in the second Williams after Reutemann’s retirement, Frank Williams turned to his former protege.