Following Claire Williams’ decision to step away from her job as Deputy Team Principal of Williams Racing last week, it was announced that this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix would be her last, and the last with Williams family involvement in the team her father Sir Frank Williams founded with Sir Patrick Head in 1977.
On-track, Williams weren’t as quick in practice and qualifying as they might have been, a melee in Q1 scuppered George Russell’s chances of making it through to the second part of qualifying he’s almost become accustomed to in recent Grands Prix.
A topsy turvy race gave Williams the opportunity to knock on the door of the points for the first time this season, with Nicholas Latifi spending much of the race in, and eventually coming home 11th, one place off a points scoring position with stablemate Russell three places back in 14th.
But naturally, on this weekend of all weekends, Williams’ on-track performance was almost incidental, as everyone in around #F1’s thoughts focussed on Sir Frank Williams & family’s 50 year devotion to Formula 1, what they’d achieved in that time and a legacy that would endure for years to come.
Many of Formula 1’s leading lights were keen to pay tribute to Sir Frank Williams & family. Here are just a few:
“I’m a big fan of Sir Frank and his incredible contribution to the sport. He was always so positive to me as one of the people I respected most here and he’s probably one of the most honest, if not the most honest, people here in Formula 1.” World Champion Lewis Hamilton
“Frank and Claire gave me my first opportunity in Formula 1. It’s something I am very thankful and grateful for, and having the opportunity to drive for such an amazing and prestigious team for the two years I’ve been here so far…The history of Williams will still remain. We’ll still remain under Williams Racing, and still continue to fight and represent the family name.” Williams driver George Russell
“Growing up I was a big Nigel Mansell and Williams fan, and being fortunate enough to work in Formula 1 and sitting across the table from Sir Frank…he was a formidable competitor – always polite, but very shrewd and very determined in his racing.”
“Sir Frank is the epitome of a racer, and he gave many young drivers a chance.”
“It’s a very sad day to see them leave the sport, but it’s great that the Williams Team name continues.” Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner
“Frank was the sort of guy who would do anything for his team – a real racer” Jenson Button, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion and ex-Williams driver
“It was a privilege to touch Williams – most drivers wish they could have at some point. I raced [for them] in Spa, which was a great privilege. It’s a great team, and I feel conflicted because it’s sad that the Williams family are stepping away from it, and it feels like the end of a very important era for Formula 1, but at the same time I don’t like to see the team spinning its wheels at the back of the grid” Martin Brundle, Sky Commentator and ex-F1 driver
“All the best to the heroic Williams family and a massive thanks for all you brought to the sport.” 1996 Williams F1 World Champion Damon Hill
“I think he’s [Sir Frank] one of those figures that you don’t come across them too often, they’re just a very very rare species. A great guy. I always had huge respect for Frank and for Williams. It’s obviously a shame.[The Williams name] stands for a lot of good things, even though the last years have been tough” Sebastian Vettel, 4 time Formula 1 World Champion
“In Williams, we are losing a family who have been part of Formula One for so long” Ross Brawn, F1 Managing Director & one time Williams employee
“All of us at McLaren pay tribute to Sir Frank and the Williams family for their indelible legacy to Formula 1. While it is the end of one era, their inspirational achievements will live on through the name of the team.” Williams’ great rivals McLaren via social media
Meanwhile, Claire Williams paid her own tribute to her father & their team:
“We have had a great time in this sport. My dad, with Patrick Head, leaves an incredible legacy.”
“It is extraordinary what my dad has done. I am so proud of him. I have been inspired by him. This sport has given our family so much and we will be eternally grateful.”