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Sir Frank Williams dead aged 79: Formula 1 legend passes away after lengthy battle with illness as tributes flood in

FORMULA ONE legend and former team owner Sir Frank Williams has sadly passed away aged 79 following a battle with illness.

The racing icon, who founded Williams in 1977 before turning it into one of the sport’s most successful teams, was last year in hospital with an unknown medical condition.

He was later released to spend Christmas at home with his medical condition kept private.

But now the tragic news has been confirmed that Sir Frank has passed away.

F1 led the tributes online, as they tweeted: "We are filled with the most immense and deep sadness at the passing of Sir Frank Williams.

"His was a life driven by passion for motorsport; his legacy is immeasurable, and will be forever part of F1 To know him was an inspiration and privilege.

"He will be deeply, deeply missed."

Sir Frank started out as a racing driver and mechanic before establishing his own team in Formula Two and Formula Three.

Williams racing posted: "It is with great sadness that on behalf of the Williams family, the team can confirm the death of Sir Frank Williams CBE, Founder and Former Team Principal of Williams Racing, at the age of 79."

Sir Frank, who was knighted in 1999, made the step up to F1 in 1969 and the team finished twice on two occasions that season.

He was desperate to make the team successful but with limited resources his hands were effectively tied.

At one point he conducted his business from a telephone box after his phone was disconnect for unpaid bills.

A failed partnership with a Canadian oil company led to him setting up his new team in Grove in 1977, where they are still based today.

Working alongside his closest friend Patrick Head, they achieved their first victory in F1 in 1979 when Clay Regazzoni won the British GP at Silverstone.

The following season, Sir Frank did the double and clinched the constructors and drivers’ championship titles.

In March 2012, he announced the decision to step down from the board of Williams F1 and hands the reigns to his daughter Claire.

By September 2020, Sir Frank ceased to have any involvement with the sale of Williams F1 team.