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Knight of the Track Frank is racing on

2015-04-29 08:04

MAN OF WHEELS: Frank Williams and his wheelchair are almost always in the pits during Formula 1 races. Image: AP / Hassan Ammar

LONDON, England - Frank Williams has no plans to retire from the Formula 1 team he founded in 1977 and is under no pressure to do so, his daughter Claire has said.

Now 73, Sir Frank Williams has been quadriplegic and in a wheelchair since a car crash in southern France (profile) in 1986. The Briton spent some time in hospital in 2014 during treatment to a pressure sore.

Claire, the team's deputy principal, said: "Frank is the team principal. Always has been, always will be, until we find him one day face down on the desk."

THIRD OVERALL

"Frank is in there 24/7, he's in the office more than any of us. He loves it... he's passionate about it but he has a management team in place that he trusts to run the business.

"He is there, he always will be, and has no plans to retire. It wouldn't be the same without him."

The Williams team, winner of nine Constructors' and seven Drivers' titles from 1980 through to 1997, is fighting its way back to the top after a decade of decline and finished third overall in 2014.

Now - 2015 - the team is third in the championship points after four races - Mercedes and Ferrari lead and are operating on significantly greater budgets.

Sir Frank still attends races, his daughter said, although not all, and keeps a close eye on business dealings and sponsorship even though she has taken on more responsibility.

She said improved track performance had led to an increase in the team's rate card although it remained more flexible than some rivals.

ENGINEERING PROJECTS

Claire denied, however, that they it had undersold itself to attract partners at a time when all teams were struggling to secure sponsorship and some were fighting to survive.

"We are more flexible in our approach than certain other teams, but that's not to say we ever undersell ourselves," she said. "There's commentary that (title sponsor) Martini may have been undersold.

"Well, no, not at all. We can't do that because we can't afford to do that."

Some partners had moved away from visibility on the car, instead were increasingly focused on other elements such as advanced engineering projects, "thought leadership" and education.

"You can look at a Manor (car) and it's got nothing on it. And you could say 'the health of F1 is on the wane.' But actually, what else are we all doing behind the scenes?"

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every week.


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