Patrick Head  Great Britain

  • Full name Patrick Head
  • Birth date June 5, 1945
  • Birthplace Farnborough, Surrey, Great Britain
  • Current age 73 years 47 days
  • Teams Williams
  • Other roles Technical Director
driver portrait

One half of the self-confessed 'old-school' Williams team, Patrick Head is famed on the circuit for his no-nonsense, honest attitude and approach to racing.

Head was born into the sport as his father, Colonel Michael Head was a successful amateur driver, racing Jaguar sportscars in the 50s. He was educated at Wellington College before gaining a scholarship to the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, only to realise he was not suited to a life at sea, buying out his contract for £195.

After inheriting money from a distant relative, Head financed himself through university, graduating from London with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1970. His career in motorsport began when he joined car manufacturer Lola, working alongside John Barnard (who went on to design championship-winning cars with McLaren and Ferrari).

After a number of unsuccessful ventures, Head quit the sport, disheartened by his lack of progress, and dedicated two years to building his own boat. However, in 1976 he was lured back to motor racing by Frank Williams. After one abandoned attempt with Frank Williams Racing Cars, the duo established Williams Grand Prix engineering in 1977.

Williams have enjoyed over thirty years in F1, now the third oldest team in the sport after Ferrari and McLaren. Still proudly independent, Williams have won nine constructors' championships and seven drivers' championships, and have a tradition of scouting young British talent, notably Damon Hill, David Coulthard and Jenson Button.

In his Williams career, Head has also overseen the careers of successful F1 engineers such as Ross Brawn and Adrian Newey. In 2004 he stepped down as technical director to make way for Sam Michael, taking up the role of director of engineering.

Never afraid to speak his mind, in 2008 Head suggested a reverse grid concept to make the sport more of a spectacle. He argued that with the fastest drivers starting at the back of the grid there would be more scope for overtaking.

Head has been a driving force behind the Williams' team success over the last three decades, and his partnership with Sir Frank Williams remains one of the most successful in the sport. It may be no coincidence that Williams have won just one grand prix since Head stepped down as technical director in 2004.

Jo Carter November 2009

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