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Tributes have been pouring in across the motorsport world after news of Sir Frank Williams' death, with the British icon being remembered as one of the most influential men in Formula One history.
Williams, who was the founder and former team principal of the Williams Racing Formula One team, has died at the age of 79 to mark the end of an important era in motorsport.
Under Williams' stewardship, the British team won the F1 drivers' title seven times - including the first one that was annexed by Australian Alan Jones in 1980 - and the constructors' championship on nine occasions.
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In a statement, the Williams team said: "It is with great sadness that on behalf of the Williams family, the team can confirm the death of Sir Frank Williams CBE, founder and former team principal of Williams Racing, at the age of 79.
"After being admitted into hospital on Friday, Sir Frank passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by his family.
"Today we pay tribute to our much loved and inspirational figurehead. Frank will be sorely missed. We request that all friends and colleagues respect the Williams family's wishes for privacy at this time."
Williams was one of the most remarkable figures in British sport, taking his team from an empty carpet warehouse to the summit of Formula One.
It is with great sadness that on behalf of the Williams family, the team can confirm the death of Sir Frank Williams CBE, Founder and Former Team Principal of Williams Racing, at the age of 79.
— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) November 28, 2021
He was part of the sport's fabric for more than half-a-century, and his story was all the more extraordinary following the horrific car crash he suffered in France which left him with injuries so devastating that doctors considered turning off his life-support machine.
But his wife Virginia ordered that her husband be kept alive and his sheer determination and courage - characteristics which personified his life and career - enabled him to continue from his wheelchair.
Until his death, he was recognised as the world's oldest surviving tetraplegic - someone with the inability to voluntarily move the upper and lower parts of the body and often referred to as quadriplegia.
He would remain in his role as Williams team principal for a further 34 years before F1's greatest family team was sold to an American investment group.
"One wonders that if people like Frank had not been around in the early days whether Formula One would have survived today," said Bernie Ecclestone, who ruled F1 for 40 years.
"He was one of the people that built Formula One.
"His story is incredible. Nobody lived as long as him in his condition (as a tetraplegic).
"But Frank never complained. He never whined and grizzled. He got on with things the best he could. He was a fighter. Frank was just Frank. He gelled with everyone, and everyone liked him."
F1 president and chief executive Stefano Domenicali described Williams as "a true giant of our sport".
Domenicali added: "He overcame the most difficult of challenges in life and battled every day to win on and off the track. We have lost a much loved and respected member of the F1 family and he will be hugely missed.
"His incredible achievements and personality will be etched on our sport forever. My thoughts are with all the Williams family and friends at this sad time."
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was among the many drivers, present and past, to pay tribute to the legendary icon.
Sir Frank Williams was one of the kindest people I had the pleasure of meeting in this sport. What he achieved is something truly special. Until his last days I know he remained a racer and a fighter at heart. His legacy will live on forever. pic.twitter.com/NDIwIvzZCl
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 28, 2021
We are filled with the most immense and deep sadness at the passing of Sir Frank Williams
His was a life driven by passion for motorsport; his legacy is immeasurable, and will be forever part of F1
To know him was an inspiration and privilege
He will be deeply, deeply missed pic.twitter.com/48JhruQpLK
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 28, 2021
It's a sad day for our sport, Frank Williams will always be remembered as one of the heroes and #F1 icons.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his daughter, Claire Williams. #RIP🙏 pic.twitter.com/vSs7MUIUFO
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) November 28, 2021
RIP Sir Frank Williams. Such sad news 😔 A huge loss for our sport and our team. It’s been an honour to represent your name on the world stage and we will continue to push hard to take the team back up the grid 💙 pic.twitter.com/4UKiU3CzB4
— Nicholas Latifi (@NicholasLatifi) November 28, 2021
— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) November 28, 2021
Very sad news. Sir Frank Williams leaves a lasting impression on the history of @F1. He was a pioneer, an exceptional personality & an exemplary man. On behalf of the entire @FIA Community, our thoughts are with his family, friends & @WilliamsRacing. Rest in peace, my friend https://t.co/iWygN5mYzi pic.twitter.com/uz4xyru9l4
— Jean Todt (@JeanTodt) November 28, 2021
'A genuinely wonderful human being'
Briton George Russell, the Williams driver who will join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next season, said: "Today, we say goodbye to the man who defined our team.
"Sir Frank was such a genuinely wonderful human being and I'll always remember the laughs we shared.
"He was more than a boss - he was a mentor and a friend to everybody who joined the Williams Racing family and so many others."
Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill both won championships in a Williams car.
Triple world champion Ayrton Senna also drove for Williams before his death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Williams was charged with manslaughter for Senna's death but was acquitted several years later.
Hill, the 1996 world champion, told Sky Sports: "The only person I could compare him to is (Ferrari founder) Enzo Ferrari.
"Frank loved Formula One and he loved racing. Anyone who runs a team would like to aspire to his achievements and to his record.
"He was a man of few words. He could speak many languages but he didn't really engage in idle gossip. He's a huge part of the history of the sport."
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