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Sir Frank Williams : Forging a Formula 1 Legacy

The whole of Formula 1 are mourning the loss of Sir Frank Williams, who has passed away this week at the age of 79, Sir Frank was widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula 1 team owners in history.

Sir Frank became an icon of Formula 1 and one of the more recognisable team owners through his determination to compete at the highest level despite a severe disability.

Sir Frank, set up Williams Grand Prix Engineering in 1977 prior to launching into more than two decades of success in the sport he loved, Sir Frank unfortunately suffered a horrendous injury and was left a quadriplegic after breaking his neck in a car crash in March 1986.

After he came through months of recovery and rehabilitation, through grit and pure determination he launched himself back into F1, a sport he loved with a passion matched by very few, and went on to his greatest achievements.

His Williams Racing team won seven drivers’ titles and nine constructors’ titles, and was part of some of the most recognisable battles in the history of Formula 1.


Sir Frank devoted his life to the sport as was seen in many sacrifices made over the years, one example was when he faced a decision between building a wind tunnel that would help make the cars go faster and keeping the private plane that allowed him to attend the further races in comfort, the wind tunnel was the choice.

Prior to success years of financial struggle was at the forefront before finally establishing himself in Formula 1.

From his first venture into Formula 1 as team owner in 1969, Williams went through several changes, all of them as unsuccessful as the previous which goes without saying created a situation where they was financially insecure.

During one period of time finances had become so tight that Sir Frank was famously operating his business out of a phone booth, after losing the premises he was using.

Hard Work Pays off

1st British Williams Formula One team owner and Team Principal Frank Williams in the team’s pit garage during practice for the 2009 Italian Grand Prix at the Monza Circuit, Italy, on the 11 September 2009. (Photo by Darren Heath/Getty Images)

The breakthrough came in 1977, when he teamed up with the engineer Patrick Head and became one of the first to start funding money from the Middle East.

Helped by increased resources Head’s first car for the team, saw them as serious contenders for the first time in 1978. And from the mid-point of 1979, with the new FW07 car which went on to become one of history’s great F1 cars, Williams became the sport’s absolute pace setters.

Finn Keke Rosberg took another title in 1982, after the Ferrari team lost both its lead drivers, one tragically killed and one seriously injured, in remarkably similar accidents, and the faster Renaults were let down by reliability.

in 1987 they dominated, Piquet’s consistency out performing Mansell and his greater speed which had been hampered by the poorer reliability.

The Williams Experience

Many success stories have come from humble beginnings with Sir Frank, titles won by now famous drivers such as Jones, Rosberg, Piquet, Mansell, Prost, Hill and Villeneuve all came during their time at Williams, in 1999 Williams signed British driver Jenson Button who famously went on to win a World Championship in 2009 with another product of Williams, Brawn GP.

Williams have also provided a platform for some of the sport’s most brilliant engineers to make their names before going on to great success.

Among them was Adrian Newey, who was Williams’ chief designer from 1991-1996, he joined McLaren until 2005 and then masterminded the rise of Red Bull to four consecutive world titles from 2010-14.

And the previously mentioned Ross Brawn, who started his F1 career at Williams and went on to win two world titles with Benetton before moving to Ferrari and running their technical department in their dominant period with Michael Schumacher aswel as his Driver Championship with Button, and who is now managing director of F1.

Sir Frank Williams will go down in history as one of if not the greatest team owner in Formula 1 history, everyone at Overtime Heroics Motorsport would like to send their condolences to Sir Frank’s three children, Jonathan, Jamie and Claire.

Gone but not forgotten thank you for the memories Sir Frank Williams.

Follow me on Twitter @JamesRees83 and my Author Page for more news and discussions. Also, make sure to follow @OTH_Motorsport for all of your sporting needs!

Main image Credits Embed from Getty Images

Image Credit Embed from Getty Images

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