On July 14, 1979, Clay Regazzoni scored the first victory for Frank Williams' Formula 1 team in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The Williams FW07 had arrived late in the campaign and had been promising, if problematic, in the races leading up to Silverstone, but aerodynamic mods ahead of the team's home race transformed it into a world-beater. Team leader Alan Jones took the pole (also the team's first) by a comfortable margin of .6sec over Jean-Pierre Jabouille's Renault turbo – who was coming off the first win for himself and his team two weeks earlier in France. But the real story was Jones' speed, as his pole time was a staggering 6.6 seconds faster than the 1977 pole time on the same track (in those days, the British GP alternated between Silverstone and Brands Hatch), a testament to the ground effects breakthrough in Formula 1 between those events.
Jones dominated the race, too, leading the first 39 laps, before slowing with an overheating engine. Regazzoni, who had qualified fourth, fought past the Renaults and closed in on his slowing teammate, agonizing over whether to pass him, but had the decision taken out of his hands when Jones was forced to retire. Regazzoni took over the lead and brought home the triumph Frank Williams had been waiting for through many years as an F1 also-ran.
It was the fifth GP win for ex-Ferrari driver Regazzoni, but would also be his last as he was replaced by Carlos Reutemann at Williams for the following year and he joined the midfield Ensign squad. Sadly, the Swiss suffered serious injuries in a crash at Long Beach in 1980 that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
For Williams, though, it was the start of a long period of domination. Jones won four of the next five races, and breezed to the World Championship for Williams in 1980