Sir Frank Williams, the founder of one of Formula 1’s most successful teams that carries his name, has died at the age of 79.
Williams first entered a car in F1 in 1969 under Frank Williams Racing Cars but it was the creation of Williams Grand Prix Engineering in 1977 that would lead to numerous victories and championships. The first of those came in 1980 with Alan Jones, and to date Williams has won seven drivers’ championships and nine constructors’ titles, with the latest coming in 1997.
In 1986, Sir Frank was involved in a serious car accident that rendered him a tetraplegic and left him in a wheelchair, but he continued to run the Formula 1 operation — making it the second-most successful team in terms of constructors’ titles behind Ferrari and fourth on the all-time winners list.
In recent years, Sir Frank had been less prominent at races due to his health as his daughter Claire Williams oversaw a number of matters from the role of deputy team principal before the team was sold to Dorilton Capital in 2020, and a Williams statement on Sunday announced his passing.
“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,” a statement from the Williams team read.
“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.”
Current Williams CEO and team principal Jost Capito described the team’s founder as “a true pioneer” who leaves an incredible legacy.
“The Williams Racing team is truly saddened by the passing of our founder Sir Frank Williams,” Capito said. “Sir Frank was a legend and icon of our sport. His passing marks the end of an era for our team and for the sport of Formula 1. 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. Our thoughts are with the Williams family at this difficult time.”