F1 Team Boss Sir Frank Williams Passed Away At The Age Of 79
A great loss: the world of motorsport had to part ways with the great Sir Frank Williams, founder of Williams F1by Dim Angelov, on
There are people out there who can be considered emissaries of motorsport. One of these people was Sir Frank Williams who, sadly, passed away yesterday on November 28, at the age of 79. The boss of Williams F1 was the epitome of a petrol head and devoted much of his life to motoring. The world of motorsports will certainly be an emptier place without him, but his legacy will remain.
According to a short statement made by Williams, Frank Williams was admitted into hospital on Friday – November 26 – and passed away peacefully on Sunday – November 28. Under his management, the Williams Formula One team achieved 114 wins, seven driver’s titles, nine constructors’ titles, making it one of the most successful racing teams in Formula One history.
Frank Williams was born on April 16, 1942, in South Shields, South Tyneside, England. It’s safe to say, his passion was ignited, sometime in the 1950s when a friend of his gave him a ride in a Jaguar XK150. The rest, as they say, is history. And what history at that.
He wasted no time, and in 1966, after briefly working as a mechanic and driver, he founded Frank Williams Racing Engineering and participated in Formula Two and Formula Three, with a few drivers, among which Piers Courage.
His Formula One debut was in 1969, after purchasing a Brabham F1 chassis. Piere Courage drove in the 1969 F1 season and finished twice. In 1970, Williams entered a brief partnership with Alejandro de Tomaso, which ended after Courage’s death, at the Zandvoort circuit, in Holland (Netherlands).
William’s team would return to Formula One in 1971 and 1972 saw the first F1 car, built by Williams works - Politoys FX3, designed by Len Bailey. Sadly, Henri Pescarolo crashed, it at its first race, completely destroying it.
In his strife to create one of the most successful motorsport teams, Sir Frank Williams had many ups and downs. After a few unsuccessful partnerships and after losing ownership of his first motorsport team, he founded Williams Grand Prix Engineering, in 1977. This is where things started going for the better, for what would become one of the most dominant Formula One teams in modern racing history.
The team’s first victory came in 1979, at Silverstone, with Clay Ragazzoni behind the wheel of a Cosworth-powered Williams FW07. Throughout the next years, the team would go on to win a couple of drivers’ and constructors’ championships. The team had an impressive roster of drivers, including Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, and Jacques Villeneuve, to name a few.
Despite all the success in Formula One, both Frank Williams and his racing team experienced tragedies. In March 1986, Frank Williams was confined to a wheelchair, following a car accident, near the Paul Ricard circuit in France.
Among the drivers who raced for Williams was Ayrton Senna who, sadly, met his end behind the wheel of a Williams FW16, in 1994. Since then, as a tribute to the driver, every Williams race car featured the logo of the legendary Brazilian driver.
In 2012, Frank Williams stepped down the board of Williams F1 but remained as a team principal. He appointed his daughter, Claire Williams, as a Deputy Team Principal. In September 2020, Williams F1 was sold to Dorilton Capital. With that, Frank Williams no longer had any involvement with the motorsport outfit.
Regardless, Sir Frank Williams is a man of true character, who never gave up and pursued his dream. His legacy lives on and the F1 team has vowed to keep his moniker, as it has become one of the most renowned Formula One teams.
The team made a statement on Sunday saying many great things about the team founder: "Sir Frank was a true legend and icon of our sport. His passing truly marks the end of an era for our team and for the sport of F1.
“He 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. “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.”