Formula One team founder Sir Frank Williams dies aged 79

'A true giant of sport'- Frank Williams dies aged 79 Credit: PA

Sir Frank Williams, founder and former team principal of Oxfordshire-based Williams Racing, has died at the age of 79.

The team won the Formula One drivers’ title seven times and the constructors’ championship on nine occasions under Williams’ stewardship.

A statement from Williams Racing read: “It is with great sadness that on behalf of the Williams family, the team can confirm the death of Sir Frank Williams CBE, founder and former team principal of Williams Racing, at the age of 79.

“After being admitted into hospital on Friday, Sir Frank passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by his family.”

Williams in 1986 with Nelson Piquet Credit: PA

The team statement continued: “Today we pay tribute to our much-loved and inspirational figurehead. Frank will be sorely missed.

“For those wishing to pay tribute, we ask that donations are made in place of gifts to the Spinal Injuries Association, alternatively we would welcome flowers to be placed at the entrance of the team’s headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire.

“Details of the memorial service will follow in due course.”

Williams driver George Russell paid his own tribute on Twitter.

Stefano Domenicali, chief executive of F1 rights holders the Formula One Group and former Ferrari team principal, described Williams as a “true giant” of the sport.

Domenicali said in a statement: “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. "

Williams’ story is made all the more extraordinary by the horrific car crash he suffered in France which left him with injuries so devastating doctors considered turning off his life-support machine.

But his wife Virginia ordered that her husband be kept alive and his sheer determination and courage – characteristics which personified his career – enabled him to continue with the love of his life, albeit from the confines of a wheelchair.

Sir Frank broke his neck in 1986 and would remain in a wheelchair for the rest of his life Credit: PA

In 1980, Australian Alan Jones steered the team to the drivers’ and constructors’ titles for the first time.

In 1994, Williams was charged with manslaughter following the death of driver Ayrton Senna in a crash at Imola but was acquitted several years later.

Williams ceased to have any involvement with the team following its sale in 2020. His daughter Claire quit her post as deputy team principal later the same year.