Ex-Williams team boss and founder Sir Frank Williams has died at the age of 79. After he was hospitalized on Friday, the Briton fell asleep peacefully with his family last Sunday morning, said the Williams team.
“Today we commemorate our popular and inspiring figurehead,” says the press release. “Frank will be sorely missed. We ask all friends and colleagues to respect the Williams family’s wish not to be disturbed during this time. “
And further: “We ask those who would like to pay their last respects to him to donate instead of gifts to the Spinal Injuries Association. Alternatively, we would like flowers to be deposited at the entrance to the team’s headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire. Details of the commemoration will be announced in due course. “
In 1977 Frank Williams founded the Williams Grand Prix Engineering racing team. After just two years, Clay Regazzoni won the first GP in 1979 at Silverstone – where Williams had seen his first Grand Prix 21 years earlier. Then the stroke of fate: on the way back from test drives in Le Castellet, the team boss came off the road in his car in 1986. He injured himself so badly that from then on he was paralyzed from the neck down and only with great diligence could he regain the movement of his arms.
The current Williams team boss Jost Capito comments: “Sir Frank was a legend and icon of our sport. His death marks the end of an era for our team and for Formula 1 racing. He was unique and a real 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. Its values of integrity, teamwork, independence and determination remain the core ethos of our team and are its legacy, as is the name of the Williams family we proudly race under. Our thoughts are with the Williams family at this difficult time. “
Almost all drivers and teams pay tribute to the iconic team boss. Ex-Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said: “Frank was one of those who made Formula 1 what it is today. One can ask oneself whether Formula 1 would have survived if Frank hadn’t been there. His death is the end of an era. ”According to Ecclestone, the iconic team boss didn’t have to suffer in his last days.