F1 legend Sir Frank Williams dead at 79: Founder and ‘inspirational figurehead’ of Williams Racing passes away in hospital surrounded by family
- Sir Frank Williams has died in hospital at the age of 79 surrounded by his family
- He co-founded Williams Racing, which won Formula One drivers’ title 7 times
- ‘He was more than a boss, he was a mentor and a friend to everybody who joined the Williams Racing family’
Sir Frank Williams, founder and former team principal of Williams Racing, has died at the age of 79.
The team won the Formula One drivers’ title seven times and the constructors’ championship on nine occasions under Williams’ stewardship.
A statement from Williams Racing on Sunday read: ‘It is with great sadness that on behalf of the Williams family, the team can confirm the death of Sir Frank Williams CBE, founder and former team principal of Williams Racing, at the age of 79.
‘After being admitted into hospital on Friday, Sir Frank passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by his family.’
The team statement continued: ‘Today we pay tribute to our much-loved and inspirational figurehead. Frank will be sorely missed.
‘We request that all friends and colleagues respect the Williams family’s wishes for privacy at this time.
Sir Frank Williams pictured in 1986 – the year of his accident, alongside Nelson Piquet
Lewis Hamilton with Sir Frank at the Grand Prix of the United States, Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007
Sir Frank Williams and Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams talk in the Williams garage during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain
‘For those wishing to pay tribute, we ask that donations are made in place of gifts to the Spinal Injuries Association, alternatively we would welcome flowers to be placed at the entrance of the team’s headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire.
‘Details of the memorial service will follow in due course.’
Williams driver George Russell, 23, paid his own tribute on Twitter.
He wrote: ‘Today, we say goodbye to the man who defined our team. Sir Frank was such a genuinely wonderful human being and I’ll always remember the laughs we shared.
‘He was more than a boss, he was a mentor and a friend to everybody who joined the Williams Racing family and so many others.’
F1 chief Stefano Domenicali stated: ‘This morning Claire Williams called to inform me of the very sad news that her beloved father, Sir Frank Williams had passed away.
‘He was a true giant of our sport that overcame the most difficult of challenges in life and battled every day to win on and off the track.
‘We have lost a much loved and respected member of the F1 family and he will be hugely missed.
‘His incredible achievements and personality will be with etched on our sport forever. My thoughts are with all the Williams family and their friends at this sad time.’
Three-time Formula One World Champion Alain Prost (L) talks to Renault-Williams team boss Frank Williams
Sir Frank Williams smiles during the first official practice session of the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone race track, 1997
Sir Frank Williams looks on in the pits during the first practice session at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo near Barcelona, 2013
Sir Frank started his working life as a mechanic and racing car driver, establishing a team in Formula Two and Formula Three before making the leap to Forumla One in 1969.
He set up a Williams Racing in Grove in 1977, where it remains based today.
Working with Patrick Head, they scored a victory in F1 in 1979 when Clay Regazzoni won the British GP at Silverstone.
During the next season, Williams achieved a double victory and clinched the constructors and drivers’ championship titles.
The team was hit by tragedy when the Ayrton Senna crashed and was killed at the 1994 San Mario GP.
Williams suffered a car accident himself in 1986 which resulted in him suffering a spine cord injury, which left him confined to a wheelchair.
His wife Virginia died of cancer in 2013 and he is survived by two sons.