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Frank Williams

Formula 1 employee

Frank Williams
Credit: Dunbar/LAT
Vital statistics for Frank Williams
NationalityGBR
PositionTeam principal
TeamWilliams Martini Racing

A mainstay of the Formula One paddock, Frank Williams has been at the head of one of the true independent racers since the 1960s. After a couple of attempts at creating F1 teams, Frank struck gold with Williams F1, who have been racing strongly, if not always successfully, since the 1970s. Williams himself is often spotted in the paddock, despite a spinal cord injury confining him to a wheelchair, and he’s a well-respected and much-loved face by almost all in Formula One.

Biography

Frank Williams grew to love racing cars after being given rides in a friend’s Jaguar. He started racing himself in the early 1960s, driving his own Austin car, but without funding, he had to become a mechanic instead. After supporting a friend through a Formula 3 career, and failing to revive his own driving aspirations, Frank decided to create his own business as a team owner.

Frank Williams Racing Cars entered a handful of junior races before moving to Formula One in 1969. The team gradually began to expand, but Williams was forced to leave behind the outfit after control switched to main sponsor Walter Wolf. Undeterred, Frank created Williams Grand Prix Engineering and continued his hard work in Formula One.

In 1980, the team secured their first World Championship which began a winning streak. Unfortunately, in 1986, Frank and colleague Peter Windsor were involved in a car accident. Travelling from the Paul Ricard circuit in France to the airport, the crash left Windsor with minor injuries, but Williams with severe spinal injuries. Williams was paralysed from the shoulders down and has been in a wheelchair ever since, but hasn’t let that get in the way of his passion for motorsport.

Often seen in the paddock, supporting and guiding his team through the highs and lows of life in Formula One, Frank is a well-respected face and name. After some more success in the early 90s, the Williams team have gradually slipped down the order, facing some of their worst seasons ever in recent years. However, the determination never wavers, and with the family on board – Claire Williams has recently taken the Deputy Team Principal role – Williams continues to thrive.