Williams Racing’s founder and former long-serving team principal, Ormula 1 legend Sir Frank Williams, has died at the age of 79.
Williams was a hugely influential figure in motorsport history, having co-founded the prestigious British Williams team with Patrick Head in 1977 and spent an overall five decades in F1, receiving a knighthood in 1999.
His time in charge at Williams earned him a total of nine constructors titles, seven driver 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 outright.
Williams was inspiring as he continued to enjoy great success in the sport after suffering a spinal injury in a car accident 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, Team Williams Racing founder and former team principal Sir Frank Williams CBE can confirm the death at the age of 79. NS.
“Sir Frank, after being admitted to hospital on Friday, passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by his family.
“Today we pay tribute to our most beloved and inspirational person. Frank will be greatly missed. We request that all friends and colleagues respect the wishes of the Williams family for privacy at this time.
“For those wishing to pay tribute, we ask the Spinal Injury Association to make a donation in place of a gift, alternatively we will welcome flowers at the entrance to the team’s headquarters in The Grove, Oxfordshire.
“Details of the memorial service will be followed in due course.”
Williams remained as team principal until the sale of Williams Racing to private investment firm Dorilton Capital in September 2020.
Betty Claire took her place on the Williams board in 2012 and was appointed deputy team principal in 2013 to handle the day-to-day operations of the team.
Frank Williams was hospitalized last December and was also admitted with pneumonia in 2016.
Formula 1 tweeted via its official account on Sunday: “We are deeply saddened and deeply saddened by the passing of Sir Frank Williams.
“His life was driven by a passion for motorsport; his legacy is immeasurable, and will forever be a part of F1.
“Knowing him was an inspiration and a privilege, he will be missed deeply, deeply.”