Formula One drivers pay tribute to Frank Williams, and Ecclestone praises late F1 team boss

VETERAN F1 team owner Frank Williams has died at the age of 79 after having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in June 2017.

F1 drivers who spoke out after the news of Williams’ passing at the British Grand Prix, where he was in attendance, included Bernie Ecclestone and the former Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg.

Williams spent more than half a century in Formula One, first as a team owner and then as team principal. He still owns four teams.

His previous team was in form when he took charge in 1970, after a four-year stint as owner of GT. His current squad includes the current drivers Valtteri Bottas, who stands at his side, and Lance Stroll.

Ecclestone, the 83-year-old motor sport billionaire who owns Ferrari, talked about Williams with reporters at Silverstone.

“If we had a computer, and if he managed his business like he managed his team, he would have got £100 million more than Bernie,” he said.

“He had one of the best teams in F1 during my time there.”

Meanwhile, Toto Wolff, the performance director for Mercedes, said that while nobody could claim to be in Williams’ position, the past few years had been tough.

“I have always found it quite humorous that he was one of the least well-paid investors in F1,” he said.

“He was very popular for what he has achieved, the transformation that he created and the team that he built and has had so much fun in a team that won.

“In a sense you can’t claim to be in a better position than him, but the last few years have been difficult because he had to sell and relocate his business and team. We are all touched by this news. He has been a fighter all his life. I can only hope that he didn’t shed too many tears when he passed away.”

Meanwhile, US-based Haas F1 Racing paid their respects by displaying a tribute to Williams in the drivers’ paddock at Silverstone. The company issued a statement paying tribute to the late team principal.

It read: “Today Haas F1 Racing have learned of the passing of Sir Frank Williams.

“Sir Frank was part of Haas F1 Racing since the team’s inception in 2013. Sir Frank was an integral part of Haas F1 Racing’s success in the first few years, most recently achieving our first win with Kevin Magnussen in the USA, which resulted in a podium result in both the Canadian Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix this season. We have tremendous respect for Sir Frank’s significant contribution to Formula One and will miss him greatly.

“Our thoughts are with Frank’s family, staff and associates.”

The Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary, host of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, paid tribute to the late team owner.

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