F1 team owner Frank Williams, whose winning formula of using Danish driver Alan Jones and Australian Mark Webber produced some of the sport’s greatest victories, died Wednesday at his Dunstable, England, home. He was 79.
Williams, who had three times placed in the top three in the constructors’ championship, died at the hospital the result of a pulmonary embolism, his son, Nicholas, said.
The younger Williams said his father was being treated at the hospital for a chronic lung infection, pneumonia and complications.
“My father began a 30-year career as a racing driver at the age of 17, driving in the Intercontinental Cup in New York, the old Aussie Championship in Australia and the European Open in Rome, among other events,” the younger Williams said. “During this period he drove for many of the best teams in motor racing including Merlin, Williams-Bryan, CAB and GGE.
“During this period, he won a number of Formula One World Championships, the Le Mans 24-hour sportscar race and two F1 World Drivers’ Championships in 1969 and 1970, which earned him the Pirelli Trophy.
“During the 1970 season, he also became the first British driver to win the Grand Prix in France. This was followed in 1972 by his first Nurburgring Grand Prix win at the historic Germany track, the Nurburgring Nordschleife.”
Added Nicholas Williams: “Away from the cars, my father was involved in various charities and an InterContinental Foundation trust he helped set up has employed a total of approximately 4,500 young people in education, training and community work.
“He was, of course, also instrumental in setting up the F1 Teams Foundation, which has awarded around $130 million to charities all over the world, including $30 million to our own.
“Sadly, his health began to decline in late 2009 and most recently he was ill with bronchitis.”
Former F1 driver Nigel Mansell said: “Today, I am bitterly disappointed to hear the news of the passing of Frank Williams, the greatest British driver and coach in the history of F1 and one of the greatest people who has ever worn a racing car.
“What he did for Formula One as a constructor is now second to none. What he did for the drivers that drove for him was second to none.”
Williams won the constructors’ championship with Williams in 1978, 1979 and 1982, while Webber was his winning driver in 2010 and 2011.
Williams was appointed the principal of the Renault-Scuderia team in 1999. However, just two years later, he left the team to start his own operation.
He sold Williams F1 in 2006 to the Hong Kong businessman-philanthropist Li Ka-shing.
In all, Williams went from driving to racing and designing with 84 victories, including two championships.
Williams F1 followed his induction into the British Motorsport Hall of Fame at Donington Park in May by hosting the remainder of the season at their new state-of-the-art headquarters at the former Borders site in Brackley, Northamptonshire.
His son said the team will announce details of a state of the art memorial center in his father’s memory.