Drivers share their memories of ‘legend’ Sir Frank

Date published: December 2 2021 - Henry Valantine

Sir Frank Williams smiling. Austria, June 2015.

Several drivers on the grid have paid tribute to Sir Frank Williams after his sad passing last weekend, with Williams drivers past and present sharing their memories of him.

Lewis Hamilton also spoke about the team founder’s influence on the grid, having had the opportunity to join his team’s youth ranks before he opted to go with McLaren, and he described Sir Frank as one of his favourite people in Formula 1.

It has been confirmed between Williams and Formula 1 that ‘joint tributes’ will be held for him this weekend, with a plethora of stories and memories of the legendary team boss having been shared in the hours after his death.

With five drivers having spoken to Formula1.com about an “icon” of the sport, here’s what they had to say about the late Sir Frank, who died aged 79 on Sunday:

Valtteri Bottas: “Frank, I’ll remember definitely as a friend, as a character that motivated a lot of people. When I was there, the whole factory was racing for Frank because it was his passion, and his ambition to have a successful team at the top of the grid.”

“He was the guy who gave me my opportunity to get into Formula 1 so without Frank, and him giving me that opportunity to show myself, I wouldn’t be sitting in this seat right now. So yes, I’m going to miss him, but I’m not going to be the only one. He was just a nice guy, a legend that everyone loved.”

George Russell: “I’ll remember Frank with fond memories. I remember going to meet him for the first time feeling rather nervous back in 2018, but within seconds, to be honest, you recognise how warm-hearted he is and the sort of personality he has.

“He was such a great human being and so well loved by everybody in the team and the wider community of Formula 1 as well – so he’ll always be a legend within Formula 1.”

Nicholas Latifi: “Every time I was at the factory I would bump into him there as he was practically living at the factory, you could always feel his presence and one of the fond memories, or one of the things I would always see… he’d always have his daily bit of fresh air outside the front of the factory and he’d speak, exchanging words with the employees.

“And even though his involvement was not much in the last few years, you could still feel the presence he was, and the symbol he was to everyone on the team.

“I think we’re going to be racing especially in his memory and for everything he’s contributed to this team and this sport.”

Lewis Hamilton: “Honestly, Frank was one of my favourite people in this industry. Just genuinely one of the kindest people and realest people that I’d met.

“Regardless of my journey, I didn’t get the sense that he ever judged me. He was always truthful with me and very sincere, and just a lovely human being.

“I think he’s had a huge impact on this sport. I’ve always been a fan of Williams and I still am today, because of what he created.

“He will be missed, but his legacy will live on in this sport, and I’m grateful to have lived in a time of being able to watch what he achieved in the early days, but also to be in the car with him and taking him around the track [at Silverstone] and getting that reaction from him. These are great memories that I’ll always keep.”

Lance Stroll: “He gave me an opportunity to drive for his team and it was the beginning of my journey in Formula 1. Without that opportunity, I don’t know where my career would have led to.

“It was a very sad day for motorsport, for Formula 1. Frank was a legend of the sport. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him off the track as well.

 

“A great guy, great sense of humour, and an incredible competitor, he was always very competitive and carried his passion for Formula 1 until his last breath.

“I think just we’re going to miss him and I was fortunate enough as well to spend time at Williams working with him and his Williams family, so my thoughts are with his family.

“It’s definitely a big loss for Formula 1; we’re going to miss him very much.”