Sir Frank Williams dies aged 79: Tributes paid to founder of Williams Racing

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Sir Frank Williams dies aged 79: Tributes paid to founder of Williams Racing - AFP
Sir Frank Williams dies aged 79: Tributes paid to founder of Williams Racing - AFP

Sir Frank Williams was hailed as "a true giant" of Formula One after his death today at the age of 79.

Williams Racing won the F1 drivers' title seven times and the constructors' championship on nine occasions under Sir Frank's stewardship as founder and former team principal.

“After being admitted into hospital on Friday, Sir Frank passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by his family,” said a statement from the Williams team.

“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.”

Tributes quickly arrived from all areas of the sport. Current Williams driver George Russell said: “Today, we say goodbye to the man who defined our team.

“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.”

Fellow Williams driver Nicholas Latifi said: “RIP Sir Frank Williams. Such sad news. A huge loss for our sport and our team.

“It’s been an honour to represent your name on the world stage and we will continue to push hard to take the team back up the grid.”

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr said: “Rest In Peace Sir Frank. You will be missed. Thoughts and prayers with all the Williams family.”

F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali said the sport had lost a "much loved and respected member" of the F1 family.

“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,” he said. “His incredible achievements and personality will be etched on our sport forever. My thoughts are with all the Williams family and their friends at this sad time.”

The Williams team enjoyed their first F1 race win at the 1979 British Grand Prix courtesy of Clay Regazzoni, before Australian Alan Jones steered the team to the drivers' and constructors' titles in 1980.

Sir Frank suffered a spinal cord injury in a serious car crash in 1986 that left him unable to walk, but continued to run the Williams team until starting to reduce his workload in 2013 when he handed over the reins to his daughter Claire. The pair both relinquished any role in 2020 after selling Williams to US investment firm Dorilton Capital.

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