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Sir Frank Williams: Formula 1 legend and Williams Racing founder dies aged 79

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Formula 1 legend Sir Frank Williams, founder and former long-serving team principal of Williams Racing, has died at the age of 79.

Williams was a hugely influential figure in motorsport history, founding the iconic British Williams team alongside Patrick Head in 1977 and spending five decades in total in F1 while also receiving a knighthood in 1999.

His time in charge at Williams yielded a total of nine constructors’ titles, seven drivers’ titles - Alan Jones (1980), Keke Rosberg (1982), Nelson Piquet (1987), Nigel Mansell (1992), Alain Prost (1993), Damon Hill (1996) and Jacques Villeneuve (1997) - and 114 race wins altogether.

Williams was inspirational as he continued to enjoy huge success in the sport after suffering a spinal cord injury in a car crash in France in 1986 that left him unable to walk.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Williams team said: “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.

“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.

“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 remained as team principal until the sale of Williams Racing to private investment firm Dorilton Capital in September 2020.

Daughter Claire took his place on the Williams board in 2012 and was appointed deputy team principal in 2013, taking over the daily running of the team.

Frank Williams had been hospitalised last December and was also admitted with pneumonia back in 2016.

Formula 1 tweeted through their official account on Sunday: “We are filled with the most immense and deep sadness at the passing of Sir Frank Williams.

“His was a life driven by passion for motorsport; his legacy is immeasurable, and will be forever part of F1.

“To know him was an inspiration and privilege He will be deeply, deeply missed.”

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