Alan JonesAlan Jones, b. November 2, 1946 in Melbourne, Australia, was the first F1 champion from Williams who had a solid Formula One career in the late 70's/early 80's.
Alan was the son of Stan Jones, a notable Australian driver, and unsurprisingly wanted to follow in his footsteps. The younger Jones left for Europe in 1967 to make a name for himself but did not have a great deal of success breaking into racing. It took about 6 years before any notable results of his own, in a Formula 3 car.
In 1974, he managed to land a full time Formula Atlantic ride, and his team owner parlayed it into a chance at F1 the following season , after purchasing a car from the Hesketh racing team. After 4 races in F1 the team chose not to continue racing, but Jones did, as the race after his team disbanded he was named as an injury replacement for Rolf Stommelen on Graham Hill's racing team. He had a best finish of 5th at Hockenheim while there.
He earned his first full-time gig in 1976, on John Surtees' racing team. Jones' car was mostly known for its infamous Durex sponsorship, but he managed several good finishes in it, a 4th in Japan being the best of them. Surtees dropped him after that year as he didn't get along well with the Aussie, and was racing in America when the Shadow team named Jones as a replacement for Tom Pryce, who had been killed in a freak racing accident in South Africa. He made the most of the opportunity and won at Österreichring for his maiden victory, finishing 7th in the championship.
He caught the attention of Frank Williams, who was looking to rebuild his F1 racing team. Williams Grand Prix had struggled for success in its first years and Jones was entrusted to give them their first taste of it. He didn't do much initially to do that, a second place finish in Watkins Glen being the best he could do, but he helped put the team on the F1 map in 1979, after winning 4 races in the span of 5 events near the end of the season. Jones finished 3rd in the championship hunt that year, and it was the springboard to an excellent 1980 campaign.
Jones won 5 races in 1980, one of which was later declared non-championship so only 4 are officially recorded, and had a car which consistently made podiums, he was on 10 of them during the year. At the end of the season he had beaten Nelson Piquet by 13 points in the standings, becoming Australia's first World Champion since Sir Jack Brabham. He had a good chance at a repeat in 1981, but a very combative relationship with Carlos Reutemann led to an intense rivalry that possibly cost both drivers a chance at the championship. He finished 4 points behind Piquet for the championship and 3 behind Reutemann.
He announced his retirement after the season, which he managed to cap off with a win in Las Vegas, but unretired for a one-time drive with Arrows in 1983. Two more years later, Team Haas was created and Jones was the first driver for that outfit, and he would race a full season in 1986, his first in 5 years, but after it ultimately failed, he left F1 for good, racing touring cars for awhile before becoming a TV commentator.