Motorsport giant Frank Williams, the longest-serving principal in Formula 1 history, has died aged 79.
The eponymous founder of Williams Racing led his team to seven drivers’ titles and nine constructor championships during a golden period in the 1980s and 1990s.
“After being admitted into hospital on Friday, Sir Frank, passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by his family," said a statement from the Williams team.
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“Today we pay tribute to our much loved and inspirational figurehead. Frank will be sorely missed.”
Williams launched Frank Williams Racing Cars in 1969, a largely unsuccessful operation that paved the way for him to found Williams Racing in 1977.
It was there that he enjoyed big success, overseeing the triumphs of Alan Jones (1980), Keke Rosberg (1982), Nelson Piquet (1987), Nigel Mansell (1992), Alain Prost (1993), Damon Hill (1996) and Jacques Villeneuve (1997) in the drivers’ championship.
Williams was left wheelchair-bound after he sustained spinal cord injuries in a car crash in 1986.
In later years, although he retained the title of team principal, he took a step back from the day-to-day running of the team as his daughter Claire took over.
“This morning Claire Williams called to inform me of the very sad news that her beloved father, Sir Frank Williams, had passed away,” said F1 president Stefano Domenicali.
“He was a true giant of our sport that overcame the most difficult of challenges in life and battled every day to win on and off the track. We have lost a much loved and respected member of the F1 family and he will be hugely missed.
“His incredible achievements and personality will be etched on our sport forever. My thoughts are with all the Williams family and friends at this sad time.”
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