Tributes have been paid by the motorsport world to “a true giant” in Sir Frank Williams, following his death at the age of 79.
Sir Frank spent more than 50 years as a Formula 1 team principal — across two teams — and was a co-founder of the Williams team that is second only to Ferrari in terms of constructors’ championships and fourth in overall victories. Sir Frank only sold the team last year but after news of his passing on Sunday morning, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says he will forever be a part of the sport.
“This morning Claire Williams called to inform me of the very sad news that her beloved father, Sir Frank Williams, had passed away,” Domenicali said. “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.”
Current Williams driver George Russell posted a tribute on Twitter, having been handed his first opportunity to race in F1 by the team.
“Today, we say goodbye to the man who defined our team,” Russell wrote. “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.
“It has been a genuine honor 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.”
FIA president Jean Todt also shared his condolences on Twitter, having competed against Williams as the team principal of Ferrari.
“Very sad news,” Todt wrote in response to the Williams statement. “Sir Frank Williams leaves a lasting impression on the history of F1. He was a pioneer, an exceptional personality and an exemplary man. On behalf of the entire FIA community, our thoughts are with his family, friends and Williams Racing. Rest in peace, my friend.”
Another tribute came from McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who highlighted Williams’ personal characteristics after overcoming a car accident that left him tetraplegic in 1986.
“We have lost a true hero of our sport and an inspiration for so many beyond it,” Brown wrote. “Sir Frank not only created a special F1 legacy but showed the power of human determination to overcome huge adversity. Thoughts with his family and the Williams team.”
A statement from the McLaren team added:
“All at McLaren pay tribute to Sir Frank Williams He was a true racer that embodied passion, ingenuity and commitment. Through immeasurable adversity, Sir Frank created a formidable team and a fearsome competitor. The Williams name will be etched in Formula 1 history and his loss will be felt by everyone in Formula 1 and well beyond.
“We send our condolences to his family and all who knew and worked with him.”
Sir Frank Williams was one of the kindest people I had the pleasure of meeting in this sport. What he achieved is something truly special. Until his last days I know he remained a racer and a fighter at heart. His legacy will live on forever. pic.twitter.com/NDIwIvzZCl
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 28, 2021
Sir Frank Williams
A man who succeeded against the odds to become a true Formula 1 legend
Rest in peace, Sir Frank pic.twitter.com/WLFCDl6uyV
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 28, 2021
A poignant memory
Flashback to when Lewis Hamilton took Sir Frank Williams on a Hot Lap around his beloved Silverstone pic.twitter.com/tAChZOnHyN
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 28, 2021
Thank you, Sir Frank 💙 pic.twitter.com/xLGI2M9DfK
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 28, 2021
RIP Sir Frank Williams CBE, founder of Williams F1 Team. We had a very successful collaboration on a couple great drivers. @jpmontoya @lxznr. A Gentleman's Gentleman. Kindest regards to his family. @WilliamsRacing @CGRTeams
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) November 28, 2021
Sad to see the news about Sir Frank Williams this morning. I’ve always been proud to say my Dad drove for @WilliamsRacing. Frank was incredibly kind to My Dad and I when I was racing in Europe as well. Made us feel like family. #RIP pic.twitter.com/Qo2zYDLUrP
— Conor Daly (@ConorDaly22) November 28, 2021
— Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) November 28, 2021
We have lost a true hero of our sport and an inspiration for so many beyond it. Sir Frank not only created a special F1 legacy but showed the power of human determination to overcome huge adversity. Thoughts with his family and the Williams team. pic.twitter.com/oVD73NkSKu
— Zak Brown (@ZBrownCEO) November 28, 2021
Dear Sir Frank, please Rest In Peace! It was a privilege to race for @WilliamsRacing! You’ve been a tough but great boss, i treasure every millisecond i spent with you! The motorsport world, your friends & family will miss you, my condolences to all! Your legacy lives on forever
— alex wurz (@alex_wurz) November 28, 2021
My racing family has always been Williams so can’t describe my sadness at hearing of the death of Frank. My boss, friend and inspiration for many years RIP He had a smile when he was with his beloved cars and racing drivers This picture is how I want to remember him pic.twitter.com/EgZWli4tku
— Ann Bradshaw (@AnnieBWansford) November 28, 2021
A man who could be described by so many words, none of which would ever do him justice. Today is one of deep and genuine sadness at the passing of one of the most important and inspirational men in the history of our sport. Sleep soundly, Sir Frank. pic.twitter.com/MyW8TEQvju
— Will Buxton (@wbuxtonofficial) November 28, 2021