Formula 1 and the world of motorsport is in mourning following Sir Frank Williams’s death at the age of 79. The founder and former team principal of Williams Racing passed away yesterday after being admitted to hospital on Friday.
Williams was the “longest-serving team principal the sport has ever seen”, Formula1.com reported. Stefano Domenicali, F1 president and CEO, said he was a “true giant” of F1 and his “incredible achievements and personality will be etched on our sport forever”.
After sustaining a spinal cord injury in a car crash in 1986, Williams was left unable to walk and used a wheelchair. He reduced his workload in 2012, but retained his position as team principal.
In 2019 he marked 50 years as a team boss, having run two teams in that time. Then in September last year the family sold Williams Racing to investment firm Dorilton Capital. The sale ensured the long-term future of the team in F1 and Claire Williams, daughter of Frank and former deputy team principal, said the change of ownership was a timely point for the family to exit the sport.
Williams “overcame the most difficult of challenges in life and battled every day to win on and off the track”, Domenicali added. “We have lost a much loved and respected member of the F1 family and he will be hugely missed.”
‘A true pioneer’
The Williams family were at the helm of the team since their first race on 8 May 1977 at the Circuito de Jarama in Spain. Under their ownership the team went on to win 114 grands prix, take 128 pole positions and lifted nine F1 constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ world championships.
Williams Racing CEO and team principal Jost Capito described Williams as “a legend and icon of our sport”, who was “one of a kind” and a “true pioneer”. “Despite considerable adversity in his life, he led our team to 16 world championships making us one of the most successful teams in the history of the sport,” Capito added. “His values including integrity, teamwork and a fierce independence and determination, remain the core ethos of our team and are his legacy, as is the Williams family name under which we proudly race. His passing marks the end of an era for our team and for the sport of Formula 1.”
‘Thank you for everything’
Briton George Russell and Canadian Nicholas Latifi currently line up for the Grove-based team and drive the FW43B in the 2021 F1 world championship. In a tribute posted on social media, Russell said Williams was “more than a boss”, he was “a mentor and a friend to everybody who joined the Williams Racing family and so many others”.
Russell added: “It has been a genuine honour racing for him and being a small part of the incredible legacy he leaves behind, a legacy that will forever live on in the heart and soul of this team. Rest in peace, Sir Frank. Thank you for everything.”