50th anniversary not on Sir Frank Williams’ mind at Silverstone

Sir Frank Williams celebrates his 50 years in F1 at Silverstone, but the legendary team principal will have a more pressing matter on his mind this weekend.

Sir Frank will be once again on active duty in his team’s garage for the British Grand Prix, supporting the Grove-based outfit at its home race during perhaps the most difficult time in the squad’s over four-decade history.

The flawed design of the team’s FW42 coupled with operational issues at the start of the season led to the departure of technical director Paddy Lowe and weak results on the track.

But Williams has rekindled the spirit of its tenacious founders – Sir Frank and Patrick Head – to dig in and slowly pull itself out of the doldrums.

    Williams FW42 to pay tribute to Sir Frank at Silverstone

Williams will hold several celebratory events at Silverstone to mark Sir Frank’s lengthy presence in Grand Prix racing, but the man himself will be more interested with the action in the garage and on the track.

“I wouldn’t say it’s important for Dad to be the longest serving team boss in Formula One,” said Jaime Williams, Sir Frank’s second son.

“He isn’t a man who dwells on his achievements. He will be thinking about what happens next, about the next grand prix. Dad’s strength is his perseverance.

“The things that he has managed to achieve in the face of adversity are extraordinary.

“It takes a special person to be able to keep going regardless of the things that life has thrown at him over the years. He kept going and he achieved great things because he did.”

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As the basis of Sir Frank’s perseverance are his courage and fortitude, but also his unwavering passion for the sport.

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“Dad has the most extraordinary tenacity and resilience but I think it all comes down to his passion,” says deputy team principal Claire Williams.

“He just loves F1, it’s his life. When he came out of boarding school, and that was quite a lonely period for him growing up, Formula One gave him a community.

“Certainly after the accident, it gave him something to live for, as much as his family did.

“Williams is what kept him going, which is why he refers to F1 as his oxygen. He lives and breathes for it and continues to do so today.”

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The 77-year-old F1 legend who remains at the helm of Grand Prix racing’s third most successful team behind Ferrari and McLaren insists any celebration of his life wouldn’t be complete without the presence of long-time partner and genial designer Patrick Head.

“Fifty years in Formula One. Honestly, I haven’t thought about it very much,” Sir Frank admits.

“I can’t say I’ve loved every minute of it, because moments have been very difficult – I’ve lost my wife, I’ve lost drivers. But Formula One has been very good to me.

“I’ve always been nuts about speed, since when I was a boy, I’d drive around pretending I was a driver – that sort of nonsense.

“Patrick Head joining was significant, he was key in making this company what it is.

“We’ve had great success but there’s a well-known expression in F1: ‘You’re only as good as your last race.’ We will keep on fighting – and I’m not going anywhere yet.”

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