Formula 1 is in mourning: the Briton Frank Williams, founder of the team in his name, died at the age of 79, his team announced on Sunday, November 28, on Twitter.
M. Williams “Was a true legend and an icon of our sport”Williams Team CEO Jost Capito said in a posted statement on social networks. “He was one of a kind and a true pioneer. His death marks the end of an era for our team and for Formula 1 in general ”, he added.
F1 boss Stefano Domenicali, meanwhile, said Formula 1 lost ” a giant “. “He overcame the toughest challenges in life and fought every day to win on and off the track. We have lost a much loved and respected member of the F1 family ”, he reacted.
Sixteen world titles for the Williams team
With sixteen world titles between 1980 and 1997 – nine for manufacturers and seven for drivers – Williams is one of the most awarded teams in the premier category of motorsport. Legends like Nelson Piquet (1987), Nigel Mansell (1992) and Alain Prost (1993) have been titled with her. The stable is also the symbol of an era: that of “Mechanics”, these independents who started by assembling their cars in small garages before reaching the heights.
It was in 1975 that Frank Williams entered F1 single-seaters for the first time under his own name. The first victory came at Silverstone in 1979 and the first world title the following year with Australian Alan Jones. Mr. Williams confided, in 1997, to Release :
“I am unable to explain the reason for this passion, but I love racing cars, the noise, the vibrations, the smell, the danger. “
The stable, sold in 2020 to an investment fund
The years 1986 and 1987 were another blessed period for the team, with Honda as the engine manufacturer and the Nelson Piquet-Nigel Mansell pair at the wheel. But Mr. Williams saw her partly in a hospital bed after her car accident after returning from a practice session on the Castellet circuit. The very athletic team boss, father of three, finds himself quadriplegic at 43 years old. He will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Follows the prolific partnership with Renault (1989-1997), its procession of victories (63 out of 144) and world titles (9 out of 16). The death, in May 1994, of the Brazilian Ayrton Senna, who was killed at the wheel of a Williams-Renault, was a shock for Frank Williams and a reminiscence of the death of his friend Piers Courage in 1970, at the Dutch Grand Prix. , in a single-seater he had prepared.
Known to be cold, hard, demanding to the extreme with himself and with his employees, including pilots, Frank Williams does not let these successive tragedies put him to the ground. Little subject to regret, he stayed the course in F1 until 2013, when he handed over control of the liner to his daughter Claire. In the grip of sporting and financial difficulties, the team was sold to an American investment fund, Dorilton Capital, in 2020. The Italian Grand Prix, in Monza, on September 6, therefore saw the last participation of the stable under his family management.