An Outright Formula One Legend: Sir Frank Williams
With a pure passion for motorsport and an unrelenting desire to succeed in all walks of life, the legendary Sir Frank Williams will be remembered as one of the most prolific men in motorsport history. It is with great sadness that we now pay tribute to one of the true greats, who passed away on Sunday 28th November 2021.
Sir Frank’s time in Formula 1 began in 1969 when he enlisted the help of friend and driver, Piers Courage, to carry his purchased Brabham car to two podium positions in its first season. In 1970, the tragic death of Courage was a huge hurdle to overcome, and Sir Frank’s tenacious nature combined with pure perseverance propelled him into a direction where only success was possible. His love for motorsport shone through every move he made in the industry.
Williams’ teams were an eclectic force throughout his leadership and in the 80s & 90s, they were always ones to watch. The devotion to F1 from Sir Frank was like no other body in the sport and still to this day, his desire to compete and succeed is an inspiration to all of us petrolheads. In 1994 the tragic loss of Ayrton Senna hit home to Williams, as he was driving for the Williams team at the time of his death at Imola. Reflecting on previous with relation to the Courage crash of 1970, this was another big moment in not just Williams’ career, but of course his life.
Williams’ career in the sport spanned 50+ years with the 50th celebrations being carried out in 2019. In which time Williams had run two F1 teams, the latter of which went on to win seven driver’s titles and nine constructors’ championships. A phenomenal record that is only superseded to this day by Ferrari. Sir Frank has earned the title of the longest-serving Team Principal Formula 1 has ever seen and is also one of the only non-Frenchmen to have been made a Chevalier of France's Legion d'honneur - accorded for his fantastic work with Renault engines.
In March of 1986 Williams was involved in a severe car accident near the Paul Ricard circuit which left him paralysed and unable to walk, after sustaining a spinal cord injury. As a result, Williams was bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Tenacious as ever though, he continued to strive for success and led his team with the same outlooks that he always had done.
Sir Frank Williams is loved and respected by so many people around the world (not just those who have followed Formula 1) and his legacy will live on forever. The three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart acknowledged how important a role Williams had played in the industry. “We will miss him always. He was a great man for British motor sport and always did the right thing,” he said. “A great man and a very good team owner. I raced against him from time to time and he was a competitor of the highest level.”
We will miss Sir Frank Williams incredibly and echo the voice of F1 President & CEO Stefano Domenicali, “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.”