Sir Frank Williams has been passionate about cars and motor racing his whole life.

Sir Frank Williams has been passionate about cars and motor racing his whole life. After a short stint behind the wheel, he established Frank Williams Racing in the 1960s, which entered drivers in both Formula 2 and F1.

A decade later, he met engineer Patrick Head and the pair created a formidable partnership that enjoyed numerous world title-winning successes over the following two decades.

Head and Williams founded Williams Grand Prix Engineering in 1977 with their headquarters an old carpet factory in the Oxfordshire town of Didcot. Despite low-key beginnings, the team soon established important sponsorship deals with a number of Saudi Arabian companies that were instrumental in propelling the team into the big time.

Sponsorship of Williams by Saudia Air and Albilad Hotels grew the team into a race winning organisation and led to their first world championship in 1980 – with Australian Alan Jones at the wheel.

The 1980s were a golden period for the British-based team. With legends such as Keke Rosberg and Nelson Piquet racing for Williams, the outfit notched up more world titles as the decade wore on. That success continued with Nigel Mansell dominating the World Championship in 1992 and Alain Prost continuing the run of good form a year later, in what would be the Frenchman’s final season before retirement.

However, there were also setbacks in the team’s storied history. In 1986 a road accident in the south of France left Sir Frank paralysed and the team were devastated by the tragic death of Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

The team regrouped and moved to a larger factory in Grove, where they built world championship-winning cars for Damon Hill (1996) and Jacques Villeneuve (1997). Along with Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes, they are the only other team with more than 100 Grand Prix victories to their name. But since the turn of the new century, Williams have not enjoyed the same level of competitiveness as both co-founders Patrick Head and Sir Frank took a back seat in the organisation.

During the celebrations for Sir Frank’s 70th birthday at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, the team scored a remarkable victory when Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado held off Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. It was the team’s first win for eight seasons – but they haven’t triumphed since. In recent years, Sir Frank’s daughter Claire took over running the outfit, but after struggles both on and off track, the family decided to sell the organisation.

In September 2020, a firm known as Dorilton Capital Group acquired Williams and installed former world rally team boss Jost Capito as team principal. Thanks predominantly to the remarkable performances of young racer George Russell, the team returned to the podium once more this year – at the Belgian Grand Prix – and have regularly scored points finishes to elevate themselves off the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship (where they have finished last in the past three seasons).

Despite no further influence from the Williams family, the future remains bright for this famous name of F1.