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Frank Williams recovering from pneumonia

NEWS STORY
29/10/2016

Williams founder Sir Frank Williams is recovering from pneumonia it has been revealed.

The news came to light at the official FIA press conference where team chief executive Mike O'Driscoll was asked the whereabouts of Claire Williams who hasn't been seen at the last few races.

"Frank, as you know, was taken ill at the Monza race," said O'Driscoll. "He has contracted pneumonia.

"He is making a recovery, a slow steady recovery," he continued. "We hope to see him back at Grove very soon. We all know how determined he is. He's been a fixture in the paddock for so many decades now it's strange not to have him with us. He's had a tough time in hospital.

"We expect Claire to be back at a race, but she wanted to stay close to home, close to Frank. In this modern world you are only ever a phone call away, so we stay connected and she's part of everything that happens on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day basis. We hope to see her by the end of the year and hopefully that will be Abu Dhabi.

Frank (74) was left tetraplegic following a car crash as he returned from testing at Paul Ricard in 1986.

He entered F1 in 1969, running close friend Piers Courage in a Brabham, the little team rewarded with three second places.

These performances established Williams as a serious player and for 1970 he landed a deal to run what was, in essence, a works team for de Tomaso. Sadly, Courage was killed in the 1970 Dutch GP and after that, de Tomaso lost interest and though the team continued to the end of the season, it was merely going through the motions.

Williams spent 1971 as a private entrant running March 711s. During the season he made plans to be a constructor and between 1972 and 1975 he ran his own team which was often publicly known by the name of the sponsor. Money was a constant worry and people who worked for him never knew when they arrived at work whether even their drawing boards would be in place, or had been seized by the bailiffs. Williams was even forced to sell the carpets from his house and, the most bitter blow, his beloved Porsche 911.

During those four seasons, Williams scored only 12 points, and half of those came when Jacques Lafitte inherited second place at the 1975 German GP.

In late 1975, Walter Wolf bought some of the assets of the defunct Hesketh team, and 60% of Williams. The new Wolf-Williams team ran Hesketh 308Cs, renamed FW05s, and they proved disastrous. Before the end of the season, Williams left and took the number two designer, Patrick Head with him.

During 1977, while Patrick settled down to design a new car, Frank ran paying drivers in a second-hand March 761. Then he pulled off a coup, by landing substantial sponsorship from Saudi Arabia. In typical Williams fashion, he had a car painted appropriately, trailed it to London and parked it outside the hotel where he was making his pitch. He had no need to speak in abstract terms, the car was outside the front door.

The rest is history.

On behalf of all our readers, and all fans of the sport, we wish Sir Frank a speedy recovery.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Mexico City, here.

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1. Posted by ARL, 29/10/2016 14:15

"I believe that he is the longest surviving tetraplegic. I hope he makes a full recovery from this setback. "

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