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After the years of historic Rothmans and Camel colorations in 1999, the Grove stable had to reinvent itself to accommodate the new Winfield and Veltins brands.

The association between Team Williams and first Camel and then Rothmans identified the team's image for a long period of time between the 1980s and the following decade. The British tobacco manufacturer in 1998 decided to use Formula 1 to promote another of the brands that made up its offerings. The result was not very effective.

Winfield, a well-known brand in Australia and New Zealand, had and has a very different color scheme from the classic blue white and gold that connoted previous liveries. The red base would cross into Ferrari territory, and this drew criticism on the FW20 that prompted Williams to take a different route for 1999.

Robert du Toit's speech

Ralf Schumacher in action in the Williams FW21 at the 1999 Australian Grand Prix.
Ralf Schumacher in action in the Williams FW21 at the 1999 Australian Grand Prix.

Sir Frank's men turned to creative director Robert du Toit to overcome the dualism with the Maranello house from which it had emerged rather tarnished in both sporting and visual terms. The South African designer followed his "global" approach to graphics. He put his hand not only to the simple coloring of the car but significantly updated Winfield's styling cues. He gave more dynamism to the whole, thanks to a skillful use of the angles of the elements and a change in their proportions.

He created a solta of textures whose goal was to emphasize the very concept of speed by means of lines and shades running through the entire car. The idea came from the color of the flame: white in the hottest part (the nose) that gradually turned first to yellow, orange, and red in the bellies and rear of the hood with a final accent of blue immediately in front of the rear tires. References to heat and energy emphasized the more visceral aspects of motoring such as power and speed, giving greater emphasis to the brand.

Although this radical approach was not associated with an equally happy outcome in terms of performance (the stable slipped to fifth place in the standings after the World Championship won by Jacques Villeneuve only two years earlier) the FW21 is remembered with much more favor than its precursor.

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