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Frank Williams (1942–2021), Formula One racing driver and team founder

by Linnea Crowther

Frank Williams was an English Formula One racing driver who founded Williams Racing.

Formula One

Williams fell in love with driving as a young man, and he began racing as soon as he could, driving in Formula Three races. However, after a number of crashes in his early driving career, Williams shifted his focus to managing a team. He founded Williams Racing in 1967, and by 1969, his drivers were racing in Formula One. Williams Racing became one of the top Formula One teams, one of only a handful of teams with more than 100 victories. In 1986, Williams was in a severe accident in a rental car he was driving; he wasn’t initially expected to live. He was paralyzed from the neck down and had to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but he continued as principal of Williams Racing until its sale in 2020. Williams was knighted in 1999.

Williams on what he looked for in a driver

“Essentially, you’re looking for speed. How quick is the guy, how quick do you think he is. Second, what are his results to date. Then, is his temperament right; is he lazy, tough, et cetera?” —from a 1996 interview with Jonathan Rendall

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Tributes to Frank Williams

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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