A First Taste of F1

Jonathan Williams, Ferrari 312F1

The scene is the Modena Aerautodromo on September 1, 1967. In the latest Ferrari 312F1 with its 3-liter V12 motor is the young British driver Jonathan Williams who had been hired by Ferrari to drive its F2 and Dino sports cars. Head Ferrari mechanic Giulio Borsari is standing next to the F1 car wearing the dark shirt. Williams is about to get a taste of F1 performance on the little Aerautodromo rectangular circuit.

In the background is one of the two 350 CanAm cars which is being readied for the CanAm races at Laguna Seca, Riverside and Las Vegas following the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. The 350 CanAm was a modified 330P4 with new fiberglass spyder bodywork and an uprated motor. Williams would not be driving in the Glen F1 race as that would be reserved for Chris Amon, but he would have a 350 CanAm for the races in California and Nevada. There was also a third Ferrari CanAm car for 1967 which was built-up for Chinetti using a NART 412P which was one of the 330P3s sold to customers, but using carburetors rather than fuel injection.

Williams had a short Ferrari F1 career. While in California for the CanAm races, he was drafted in by Team Manager Franco Lini to drive the spare 312F1 at the Mexican Grand Prix, what Williams referred to as, “…the car that Chris Amon didn’t like.” Lini was another story. Why Ferrari chose for Team Manager a motoring journalist with no motor racing management experience remains something of a mystery. Lini insisted that his drivers all look presentable so he arranged for matching blazers to be delivered to them. The drivers immediately gave the blazers to the mechanics. Lini was gone the next year. After qualifying 16th out of 18 in Mexico, Williams finished eighth, ahead of Chris Amon who had run out of fuel in his 312F1, but behind Jean-Pierre Beltoise who was driving a souped-up Matra F2 car.

When Williams was back in Italy he was given another test in a 312F1 at the Aerautodromo. He posted a lap just 1/10th second off the then lap record and then tried to do a little bit better, which quickly resulted in an argument with a tough hedge and the loss of two wheels. Williams commented, “The mechanics wouldn’t look me in the eye… They knew and I knew the ax would soon fall.”*

Photo by Peter Colton ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com

*From Shooting Star on A Prancing Horse, Jonathan Williams, Autosports Marketing Associates, Ltd., 2014, pg. 86







  1. Jack Brewer · · Reply

    I was at the Laguna Seca CanAm in October, 1970, and do not recall seeing the Ferrari 350 at the track. After checking a few web sites I could find no mention of the car being entered at that race. Can anyone shed more light on this? Thanks.


  2. The typo was ours. Sorry! It all took place in 1967. How did we make that mistake???



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