Frank Williams, the architect behind one of the big four of Formula 1


There was a moment in the life of Frank williams that he had to call his suppliers and colleagues from a phone booth because the line to his house had been cut for not paying the bills. From there, from the bottom, Williams built one of the most glorious teams in the history of the Formula One and through which legends such as Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell have passed, among many others.

Williams, son of a member of the Air Force of the United Kingdom, demonstrated a great passion for cars and motoring, which led him to play practically all the clubs in this industry. He was a runner, a mechanic. He was even a food trader, traveling the UK to fund his work in sport.

Despite the financial problems that he went through, the unsuccessful sponsorships of Marlboro, the purchase and sale of chassis, the accidents that slowed his journey in the lower categories, Williams, after separating from his first team in which he was with Walter Wolf, managed in 1977 to found Williams as it is known today.

It had been 11 years since he created Frank Williams Racing Cars to compete in Formula 2 and 3, but this English boy had finally fulfilled his dream. Williams started in the top flight with a single pilot that season, Patrick Nevé, who contested eleven races, debuting in the Spanish Grand Prix, but did not get any points. Frank only had to wait two years to enjoy the first victory, achieved in Silverstone 1979, in the hands of Clay Regazzoni. The first Drivers 'and Manufacturers' Championship came in 1980, thanks to Australian Alan Jones.

In just a few years, Williams became one of the most powerful teams. Until 1997, Williams added seven world championships for pilots and nine for constructors, with a total of 113 victories. Always with Frank as team manager.

Frank Williams. EP


Lights and shadows

But Williams' track success was also punctuated by his personal and professional tragedies. One of the first blows of his life came at Zandvort 1970, when Piers Courage, one of his first drivers, died on the track.

In 1986, misfortune looked directly at Frank, who was left in a wheelchair after a car accident. The English director was traveling from the French Paul Ricard circuit to Nice airport when the vehicle went off the road. He suffered a fracture of the spine between the fourth and fifth vertebrae, had to be transferred urgently to England, where he underwent a tracheostomy that saved his life.

Eight years later, the third great tragedy of Frank's life. Ayrton Senna, a three-time world champion and one of the greatest talents in the history of the sport, was killed in Imola. It was just his third career with Williams. Since then, Williams ordered that every car they designed from then on always carry a tribute to the Brazilian.

Williams remained as team principal until 2012, when he decided to step aside so that his daughter, Claire, would take over the leadership of the team. Despite the gradual decline of the brand, which has not won a championship since 97 and a race since 2012, the essence of it remained until in August 2020 Williams was acquired by a group of American investors, ending the family's management.

Frank Williams passed away this Sunday, at the age of 79, after a lifetime dedicated to this sport and in which he created one of the Big Four, together with Mclaren, Ferrari and Mercedes.

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