Formula 1 racing pioneer Frank Williams dies at 79

Frank Williams, the founder of the Williams Racing Formula One team, has died at the age of 79, the team announced Sunday.

The team won the F1 drivers ‘title seven times and the constructors’ championship nine times under Williams, although the most recent triumphs came in 1997.

The Englishman resigned from the Williams Formula One board of directors in 2012 and his family ended 43 years of involvement with the team last year, following its sale to Dorilton Capital.

Williams had used a wheelchair since he was injured in a car accident in France in 1986.

“The Williams Racing team is truly saddened by the passing of our founder, Sir Frank Williams,” the team said in a statement.

“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.”

Current Williams driver George Russell paid his own tribute on Twitter.

“Today we say goodbye to the man who defined our team,” he wrote. “Sir Frank was a truly wonderful human being and I will always remember the laughs we shared.

“He was more than a boss, he was a mentor and a friend to everyone who joined the Williams Racing family and so many others.”

Today we say goodbye to the man who defined our team. Sir Frank was a truly wonderful human being and I will always remember the laughs we shared. He was more than a boss, he was a mentor and friend to everyone who joined the Williams Racing family and so many others. pic.twitter.com/bWpFivpkmi

– George Russell (@ GeorgeRussell63) November 28, 2021

Formula One president Stefano Domenicali said Formula One had lost a “much loved and respected member of the F1 family.”

“He was a true giant of our sport who overcame life’s toughest challenges and fought every day to win on and off the track,” he said.

First grand prix victory in 1979

In 1977, Frank Williams joined forces with groundbreaking motorsports engineer Patrick Head to launch the Williams Formula One team.

Clay Regazzoni recorded the team’s first grand prix victory at Silverstone in 1979 and a year later Australian Alan Jones won the team’s first drivers’ title.

Keke Rosberg took the 1982 title, with five more captured in a golden period between 1987 and 1997, all after Williams’ ill-fated 1986 run to catch a flight in France and the car accident that left him paralyzed.

Williams led Nelson Piquet to the title the following season, and Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost followed in 1992 and 1993.

Ayrton Senna, who had won three world championships with McLaren, joined for the 1994 season, only to lose his life in a high-speed accident at Imola.

The last Williams driver to win a world championship was Canadian Jacques Villeneuve in 1997.

The team’s nine constructors’ crowns place Williams only second to Ferrari on Formula One’s all-time list. But the team has underperformed in recent years, and has been consistently at the back. of the group.

(AFP)

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