Sir Frank Williams: Formula 1 team founder dies – with tributes paid to ‘much loved and inspirational figurehead’

238

Sir Frank Williams: Formula 1 team founder dies – with tributes paid to ‘much loved and inspirational figurehead’

Sir Frank Williams, founder of the Formula 1 racing team which bears his name, has died aged 79.

Under his leadership, Williams won the Formula One drivers’ title seven times and the constructors’ championship on nine occasions.

He marked 50 years as an F1 team boss in 2019.

Sir Frank, who was admitted to hospital on Friday, “passed away peacefully” on Sunday morning surrounded by his family, Williams Racing said.

He was a “much loved and inspirational figurehead” and will be “sorely missed”, it added.

The Williams team won their first F1 race in the 1979 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and their first drivers’ and constructors’ titles the following year.

In 1986, Sir Frank suffered a spinal cord injury in a car crash that left him unable to walk. He began to reduce his workload in 2012, when he stepped down from the Williams board.

His daughter Claire ran the team on a day-to-day basis until it was sold to Dorilton Capital earlier this year.

Current Williams driver George Russell said Sir Frank was a “genuinely wonderful human being and I’ll always remember the laughs we shared”.

He added: “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.”

Williams’ current leader, Jost Capito, said: “Sir Frank was a legend and icon of our sport.

“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.”

Stefano Domenicali, chief executive of F1 rights holders the Formula One Group and former Ferrari team principal, said Sir Frank was a “true giant of our sport (who) overcame the most difficult of challenges in life and battled every day to win on and off the track”.

He added: “His incredible achievements and personality will be etched on our sport forever.”

The Williams team asked anyone wanting to pay tribute to consider making a donation to the Spinal Injuries Association.

(c) Sky News 2021: Sir Frank Williams: Formula 1 team founder dies – with tributes paid to ‘much loved and inspirational figurehead’