“His mere presence changed the aura of a room”: Motorsport world mourns Sir Frank Williams

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In the round-up: Williams drivers and team members past and present, plus other figures from across the world of motorsport, have paid tribute to Sir Frank Williams, who passed away yesterday.

Tributes paid to Sir Frank Williams

“Incredible legacy” – Russell
The following were among the tributes which have been paid to the late Sir Frank Williams:

Today, we say goodbye to the man who defined our team. Sir Frank was such a genuinely wonderful human being and I’ll always remember the laughs we shared. He was much more than a boss, he was a mentor and a friend to everybody who joined the Williams Racing family and so many others in the motorsport community. It has been a genuine honour racing for him and being a small part of the incredible legacy he leaves behind, a legacy that will forever live on in the heart and soul of this team. Rest in peace, Sir Frank. Thank you for everything.
George Russell, Williams F1 driver

RIP Sir Frank Williams. Such sad news. A huge loss for our sport and our team. It’s been an honour to represent your name on the world stage and we will continue to push hard to take the team back up the grid
Nicholas Latifi, Williams F1 driver

RIP Frank. You left something quite special behind.
Jack Aitken, Williams test driver and former race driver

Such a sad day. Sir Frank was and always will be a legend. Thank you for everything you did for me and so many other people at Williams. Rest in peace.
Roy Nissany, Williams test driver

Rest in peace, Sir Frank.
Jamie Chadwick, Williams test driver

“I’ll miss that infectious smile” – Button

We lost a great man today, Sir Frank Williams the man that gave me and many others an opportunity to prove ourselves in F1.

Frank lived and breathed the sport we love and his achievements speak for themselves.

I’ll miss our little chats in random hotel lobby’s around the world while Frank was out getting some exercise but most of all I’ll miss his smile, that infectious smile.

My condolences to the Williams family.

Rest in peace boss
Jenson Button, former Williams F1 driver

He had us fooled on a number of occasions. But woe betide the man who underestimated Sir Frank. Determination and tenacity personified. He has earned his eternal rest 100 times over.
Damon Hill, former Williams F1 driver

Rest in peace, Sir Frank Williams. I owe so much to you and your family. I am forever thankful and my thoughts are with you, Jonathan and Claire, and everyone else in your family.

I will never forget the moment when I was standing next to you in the Monza F1 garage in 2005 watching the Formula 1 race and you turned to me and you said that you have decided that you want me to race for you in 2006…
Nico Rosberg, former Williams F1 driver

Each time I was with Frank Williams, I felt I was touching greatness. His mere presence changed the aura of a room….wow, Frank Williams is here. His life story of perseverance will live on as a testament to the power of self-belief and hard work. My condolences to his family
Mario Andretti, former Williams F1 driver

Rest in peace, Sir Frank Williams!

His legacy will be forever part of F1 and I will never forget the moment in 2009 when this man opened the door to F1 for me.
Nico Hulkenberg, former Williams F1 driver

“Proud to give you that great victory” – Maldonado

We can’t fight against the designs of life, what a great example of resilience Frank has left us. I will always remember you as in this photo, where I know that for you everything was worth it. I am proud to have been part of your dreams and to have been able to give you that great victory.

Our condolence to all the family, team and supporters.
Pastor Maldonado, former Williams F1 driver

A great gentleman, a real racer, with a very big heart who shared his passion with all of us. Being part of the Williams family between 2001 to 2004 was a huge honour. Rest in peace Frank
Marc Gene, former Williams driver

Woke to very sad news that Frank Williams died. A man who proved that pushing for what might be possible was a recipe for success. He left a great legacy. RIP my friend.
Derek Daly, former Williams F1 driver

Dear Sir Frank, please rest in peace! It was a privilege to race for Williams! You’ve been a tough but great boss, I treasure every millisecond I spent with you! The motorsport world, your friends and family will miss you, my condolences to all! Your legacy lives on forever.
Alexander Wurz, former Williams F1 driver

Very sad news today for motorsport.

So sorry that we lost Frank Williams. Thanks for everything you did for me Frank . It was [a] big pleasure for me to work and learn with you. My thoughts for your family. RIP Sir Frank Williams
Felipe Massa, former Williams F1 driver

Thank you for everything Frank.

You will be missed but never forgotten.
Valtteri Bottas, former Williams F1 driver

RIP Sir Frank Williams – your name will always live on down the pit lane.
Mark Blundell, former Williams F1 test driver

“Perseverance, resilience and stamina” – Wolff

If there was one man who stood for perseverance, resilience and stamina, then it was Sir Frank. I am incredibly grateful and proud to have had the chance to work with him and been a small part of his journey. Many of us at Mercedes will continue to see him as a great inspiration. Rest in peace, Sir Frank. The thoughts of myself and the Team are with his family and our friends at Williams.
Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal and former Williams shareholder

My racing family has always been Williams so can’t describe my sadness at hearing of the death of Frank. My boss, friend and inspiration for many years RIP He had a smile when he was with his beloved cars and racing drivers
Ann Bradshaw, former Williams team member

This morning Claire Williams called to inform me of the very sad news that her beloved father, Sir Frank Williams had passed away. 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 with etched on our sport forever. My thoughts are with all the Williams family and their friends at this sad time.
Stefano Domenicali, Formula 1 CEO

Very sad news. Sir Frank Williams leaves a lasting impression on the history of F1. He was a pioneer, an exceptional personality and an exemplary man. On behalf of the entire FIA Community, our thoughts are with his family, friends and Williams Racing. Rest in peace, my friend.
Jean Todt, FIA president

Sir Frank Williams was one of the kindest people I had the pleasure of meeting in this sport. What he achieved is something truly special. Until his last days I know he remained a racer and a fighter at heart. His legacy will live on forever.
Lewis Hamilton

It’s a sad day for our sport, Frank Williams will always be remembered as one of the heroes and F1 icons.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his daughter, Claire Williams. RIP.
Sergio Perez

One of the symbols of F1 leaves us. His history and his legacy will be unforgettable.
Antonio Giovinazzi

“A true gentleman and real racer” – Horner

Very sad to hear the news about Sir Frank Williams. A true gentleman and real racer. Growing up I was a fan of his team and when I reached F1 he always had time for you and his enthusiasm for the sport was infectious. Our thoughts are with the Williams family at this sad time and on behalf of Red Bull Racing thank you for everything you gave to Formula One. RIP
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal

We have lost a true hero of our sport and an inspiration for so many beyond it. Sir Frank not only created a special F1 legacy but showed the power of human determination to overcome huge adversity. Thoughts with his family and the Williams team.
Zak Brown, McLaren Racing CEO

Today we lost a legend of the sport. The name of Sir Frank Williams will be forever engrained in the history of Formula 1 and an inspiration for us all.

Starting from nothing, his passion and hard work combined with a unique talent wrote the most remarkable story of our sport. His courage and resilience in the face of the cruelty of fate persisted and continued to demand our admiration.

All the Renault family remember our time together with emotion and pride, especially the four world drivers’ titles and five constructors’ championships we achieved together.

The whole Alpine and Renault teams join me in expressing our sincere condolences to Claire and the entire Williams family, his friends and to the team that continues to bear his name.
Laurent Rossi, Alpine CEO

RIP Sir Frank Williams CBE, founder of Williams F1 Team. We had a very successful collaboration on a couple great drivers, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alex Zanardi. A gentleman’s gentleman. Kindest regards to his family.
Chip Ganassi

Goodbye Sir Frank Williams.

What an honour it has been to have shared some conversations with you through the years.
Romain Grosjean

Today Formula 1 loses a piece of its history. I have often been close to racing for your team and it would have been a great experience to work with you. Ciao Frank.
Giancarlo Fisichella

Goodbye Frank, we are saddened to see the chequered flag has fallen on this motorsport icon and legend, rest in peace. Our condolences to the Williams family.
David Brabham

Am very sad to learn of Sir Frank’s passing, he led an extraordinary life and was such a pioneer in our sport.

A real old school racer who simply never gave up, he will be missed but his legacy will always live on.

My deepest condolences to his family.
Allan McNish

Frank was an amazing man. So unbelievably confident that he could make it happen, and it did! From scratching around Europe to one of the winningest constructors ever. RIP Frank.
David Hobbs

A legend has passed. There were not a lot of people who were more inspiring than Frank Williams. His knowledge brought the sport we all love to a higher level. Condolences to everyone and Frank, rest in peace.
Giedo van der Garde

Obituary: Sir Frank Williams, 1942-2021

Goodbye Sir Frank. A truly inspirational human being whose passion for the sport was only surpassed by his tenacity.

My deepest condolences to the Williams family and everyone at the Williams team at this time.
Karun Chandhok

Sad to see the news about Sir Frank Williams this morning. I’ve always been proud to say my dad drove for Williams. Frank was incredibly kind to my dad and I when I was racing in Europe as well. Made us feel like family.
Conor Daly

Dear Sir Frank Williams, your passion for the sport was unparalleled. Thank you for being an inspiration to many of us. Appreciate you also for giving me my only chance to drive an F1 car. Rest in peace sir.
João Paulo Oliveira

Incredibly sad news, Sir Frank believed in me when my chips were down and gave me my big break. A truly wonderful man. Sleep well my friend. Xx

Deepest condolences to Claire, Jonathan, Jaime and all his many friends.
Jason Plato

Rest in peace Frank Williams we are saddened to hear about the loss of one of the sports icons. Our condolences to the Williams family.
Arie Luyendyk

Sad day. RIP Sir Frank. Met him once at his office and he couldn’t have been more gracious and kind. A true legend of motorsports worldwide.
Graham Rahal

“He will forever remain an icon of British motorsport”

It is with deep sadness to hear the news that Sir Frank Williams CBE has passed away at the age of 79.

Sir Frank leaves behind a legacy in Formula 1 that features 16 world championships, over 100 race wins and a lifetime of pushing boundaries and elevating motorsport to new levels.

We will all miss Sir Frank’s spirit, determination and courage which he displayed both professionally and personally on the world stage.

He will forever remain an icon of British motorsport and an inspiration to us all. Our thoughts are with the Williams family during these difficult times.
David Richards, chair of Motorsport UK

Sad to say goodbye to a motorsport legend, a hero to the spinal cord injury community and someone who inspired me personally that anything was possible.
Nathalie McGloin, FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission president

We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of BRDC Vice President Sir Frank Williams CBE.

We will be forever thankful for Sir Frank’s passion and friendship. On behalf of the Club we send our thoughts to Sir Frank’s family and friends in this sad time.

Rest in peace Sir Frank.
British Racing Drivers Club

We pay tribute to a great man who played a major role in the history of Formula 1.

Sir Frank was passionate about motorsport, a fierce and brave rival who led the team, that still bears his name, to so much success.

He will always be an example to look up to and an inspiration to many for his incredible inner strength and for his determination.

Our thoughts go to his children, Claire Jonathan and Jaime and to all his family and friends at this sad time.

All at McLaren pay tribute to Sir Frank Williams.

He was a true racer that embodied passion, ingenuity and commitment. Through immeasurable adversity, Sir Frank created a formidable team and a fearsome competitor. The Williams name will be etched in Formula 1 history and his loss will be felt by everyone in Formula 1 and well beyond.

We send our condolences to his family and all who knew and worked with him.

Today we mourn a legend of our sport, a name synonymous with racing. Our thoughts are with Sir Frank’s family and our friends at Williams.
Alfa Romeo F1 team

We are incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Frank Williams, a man who defied the odds throughout his life and career to become one of our sport’s greatest icons. A wonderful man and a brilliant competitor, his legacy will live on. Rest in peace, Sir Frank.
Aston Martin F1 team

We’re saddened to learn the passing of Sir Frank Williams, a true pioneer of our sport.

We’d like to pass on our condolences to his family, friends and the Williams Racing team.

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Social media

Notable posts from Twitter, Instagram and more:

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Comment of the day

Many RaceFans readers also left tributes to Sir Frank Williams:

An amazing character. His motivation and acceptance of reality was remarkable. I really admired this man his team gave me so many memorable moments. Above all I loved the way he expressed himself, without sounding like he was in a hurry yet with no hesitation.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Alex White, Crispin, Djdaveyp85, Prisoner Monkeys, Wes, Villalon and Putti Spiii!

On this day in motorsport

Romain Grosjean crash, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020
A shocking moment in Bahrain on this day in 2020 as Romain Grosjean had an incredible escape

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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10 comments on ““His mere presence changed the aura of a room”: Motorsport world mourns Sir Frank Williams”

  1. Wonderful tributes to a man who was part of the very fabric of Formula 1.

  2. Thanks racefans, now I’m a blubbering mess. When I got into F1, Williams’ golden years were behind them but thanks to YouTube and many biographies and websites like this one, it’s been possible to piece together the Williams story. What an incredible example of determination and resilience. Frank will continue to inspire long after his passing.

  3. I like all tributes (including COTD). Mostly from familiar individuals, but also a few less familiar ones.
    BTW, for Jack Aitken, more like a one-off substitute than a race driver since he’s never been a regular one.

    A new deputy race director. Admittedly, I’ve never heard of him before.

    That infamous fireball incident in last season’s Bahrain GP, a year ago but feels like forever ago, more than twelve months.
    Grosjean still has burn marks on his left hand to some extent.
    I’m sure they’ll eventually disappear entirely.

    1. There is a really great interview with Romain on Nico Rosberg’s YouTube channel. Absolutely fascinating as to how the accident has changed his character, he’s a different person completely. Such resolve, very impressive. With regards his hand he mentions it still gives him pain (scars like that won’t heal completely ever, I also have some on my arm from 15 years ago), but he’s just grateful for every day he is alive. I highly recommend checking it out @jerejj .

      1. Yeah, I watched that interview today, really worth your time @john-h, @jerejj

        Quite astonishing about the left hand “oh, by now I can actually sleep more or less normally despite it” and “it hurts 23 hours per day” … Wow.

      2. @john-h I already did, although at the time, I was only interested in hearing the accident-related section.
        Nevertheless, a fascinating one-on-one podcast conversation.

  4. Frank Williams was the last of his kind, a real racer who entered F1 for the love of the sport. There is no room left for people like him and the sport is poorer for it.

  5. Per an F1 official post I learned that Williams was the longest known living tetrapalegic. That was a stark measure of the determination he showed to survive day after day and what he endured to do it, and for much of that time engaged in a torturously stressful professional endeavor. His rest is well earned.

  6. Peter Windsor, who was in the car when Frank Williams had the accident that left him wheelchair-bound, recorded a 23+ minute YouTube tribute

    1. Thanks for bringing that one up @scalextric, I agree that tribute is really good to listen to.

Comments are closed.