The feisty defiance that characterised Sir Frank Williams
Sir Frank Williams – who died recently, aged 79 – overcame threadbare beginnings to become a grand prix great. Maurice Hamilton knew Frank for over four decades, even lap-charting Keke Rosberg’s 1982 Formula 1 title-winning race for the Williams team, and pays his personal tribute to a giant of modern F1.
Frank Williams and I grew up together. Not in the sense of boyhood friends, but as wannabe members of the Formula 1 establishment; Frank as a respected entrant, me as a journalist. During the time I was a salesman in the early 1970s, Frank was also using fast talk to inveigle money from whoever might help him go racing with a variety of cars that retired more often than they finished. But I’d seen a rare exception at first hand when a keen fan in 1975.
My weekends were spent going to motor races, with grands prix high on the agenda if they were within reach. The Nurburgring was always a favourite, particularly since it was easy to blag your way into the paddock once the race had finished. In 1975, I witnessed universal delight as the F1 world descended on the Williams truck to congratulate Frank and Jacques Laffite for finishing second in a car which, given the nature of the Nordschleife, had defied all logic by holding together for 14 punishing laps.
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