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Sir Frank Williams honoured
Prestigious award for F1 boss
Posted Dec 20, 2010 by Jeff Dawson
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I watched the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award show last night hoping that the right people would win the awards and there was one that surprised me but upon hearing the story, I believe the man in question was a worthy winner.
Sir Frank Williams was presented with the Helen Rollason award – an honour bestowed upon people who overcome adversity to achieve great things in sport. And Sir Frank has definitely done that.
I never really pondered why the Williams Formula One team boss was wheelchair bound but when hearing the story and what he has achieved since then, it really is quite staggering.
The man, who was knighted in 1999 for his services to motorsport, is lucky to be alive let alone running a team in one of the most prestigious sports on the planet. As co-founder and boss of Williams, the 68-year-old has been confined to a wheelchair since breaking his neck in a road accident in 1986.
Despite this, he has guided his team to 16 world championship title making Williams the third most successful F1 team in history behind the Ferrari and McLaren outfits.
Williams have won seven drivers’ world championships, nine constructors’ titles and 113 grand prix since the team were established by Williams and Patrick Head, who was on stage to accept the award with Sir Frank, in 1997.
They have had some of the most iconic names in the sport drive for them including Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve.
Williams spent nine months in hospital recovering from his terrible accident, but he returned to the fold and the team went from strength to strength, dominating the sport for nearly 10 years.
However, they had to come over more adversity when, in 1994, the great Ayrton Senna, who had won three world titles with McLaren, joined Williams and was killed in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
His death led to a criminal case in Italy in which Williams, Head and the team’s then chief designer, Adrian Newey, were all accused of manslaughter. After a lengthy legal battle, they were all finally cleared in 2005. Williams said of this incident, which clearly still strikes a cord: “I felt in all truth we’d been given a great responsibility providing the car and we let him down.”
He added when receiving the award: “It’s been a great journey, one I’d love to do again if I was younger. I wouldn’t try and do anything different accept try and avoid the accidents.”
His career has certainly been an exceptional one and he deserves all the plaudits thrown his way during this awards show.