Legends of Formula One: Frank Williams

Born in County Durham in 1942 Frank Williams was brought up by his aunt and uncle after his parents marriage broke down. After leaving school and after a brief career as a driver and mechanic, Frank Williams Racing Cars was founded in 1966 and he ran several cars in The Formula Three and Formula Two Championships. He ran several drivers including Piers Courage who later raced Williams’ first Formula One car in 1969. Courage was tragically killed in 1970 at the Dutch Grand Prix.

In 1971 Williams Formula One cars ran with a chassis Frank bought from March racing and the following year Williams F1 built its first car.

Frank Williams struggled for several years, short on money and sponsors, he conducted business from a phone box after his phone bill was cut off when he couldn’t afford to pay it. In 1977, along with head engineer Patrick Head Williams aquifer an empty carpet warehouse in Didcote, Oxfordshire and aqui the formation of Williams Racing.

The teams’ first win came in the Williams FW07 with driver Clay Regazzoni at the British Grand Prix in 1979, and their first drivers and constructors championships came the next season with Alan Jones. Between the years of 1981 and 1997, the team won six drivers and eight constructors championships.

On the 6th of March 1986, Frank Williams was involved in a car accident in France that would would result in him being bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, he was paralysed, but did not let that stop him running the team which he continued to do until he stepped down in 2012. His daughter Claire took over his role as the bored of Williams F1.

The 1994 Formula One season will always be remembered as one of the most tragic one in F1 history. The great Ayrton Senna was killed whilst driving for Williams at Imola. Frank Williams was charged with man slaughter under italian law, but was acquitted several years later. Since the death of Senna, all Wiliams cars have carried a S symbol as a tribute to Senna.

Photo credit- The National