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F-1 Team Boss Sir Frank Williams, 79

Sir Frank Williams, who was involved in Formula 1 for 50 years as a team owner, has died at the age of 79. 

The news was confirmed in a statement from the Williams Formula 1 team, the team Williams owned for most of his career before it was sold in 2020.

“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,” the statement 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.”

Williams started his career in motorsports as a driver and mechanic before becoming a team owner. He first formed Frank Williams Racing Cars in 1969, though the team enjoyed limited success. In 1976 he added a partner, Canadian oil millionaire Walter Wolf, who purchased a 60 percent stake in the team. 

Following the end of the season, Wolf opted to remove Williams from his role as team manager. That led to Williams leaving the team and Wolf acquiring the entire operation. Williams instead formed a new team, Williams Grand Prix Engineering, which would go on to achieve countless wins and championships in Formula 1 competition. 

Debuting in 1977, it took the team only four years to win its first Formula 1 driver and constructor championships. Alan Jones claimed the Formula 1 title that year for the team thanks to five wins throughout the year. It was the first of seven driver championships and nine constructors’ championships for the team.

Another constructors’ championship followed in 1981, with Keke Rosberg delivering the team’s second driver title in 1982. The team didn’t win a championship again until 1986, when the team captured the constructors’ championship. That was the same year Williams was seriously injured in a car accident that left him paralyzed.

Nelson Piquet delivered the team’s third driver championship in 1987 while the team secured another constructors’ championship. Championship success would evade the team until 1992, with the team capturing the constructors’ championship and driver Nigel Mansell delivering the driver title. 

The team followed that up with another dominant season in 1993, with Alain Prost capturing the driver championship as the team earned another constructors’ championship. The team collected the constructors’ championship again in 1994, before adding two more constructors’ championships in 1996 and ’97. Damon Hill claimed the driver championship for the team in ’96 while Jacques Villeneuve won the crown for the team in 1997.

Those would be the last championships for the Williams marquee. The team found limited success in the 2000s with Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya each earning wins for the team led by Williams. The last victory for the team led by Williams would come in 2012, when Pastor Maldonado earned an upset victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.

In all, cars fielded by Williams scored 128 poles, 114 wins, nine constructors’ world championships and seven drivers’ world championships. Williams eventually stepped down from the board of the team in 2012 with his daughter, Claire Williams, taking over leadership of the team in 2013. The team was sold to Dorilton Capital in 2020, ending Williams’ ownership stake in the team he started in 1977.

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