Team boss Sir Frank Williams honoured with BBC award
Founder and manager of the Williams Formula 1 team receives the 2010 Helen Rollason Award
Sir Frank Williams has received the Helen Rollason Award at the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in Birmingham.
The award, named in honour of the BBC sports presenter who lost her battle with cancer in 1999, is given for “outstanding achievement in the face of adversity”.
Founder and manager of the Williams Formula 1 team, Sir Frank has been in a wheelchair since suffering a spinal cord injury in a car accident en route to Nice airport from the Paul Ricard Circuit in France in 1986.
Despite being hospitalised for a number of months, the former racer and mechanic was back in the paddock before the end of the season, leading his team to become the third most successful team in the sport’s history behind Ferrari and McLaren.
Williams secured the constructors’ title in 1986, quickly followed by both the drivers’ title with Nelson Piquet and another constructors’ title 1987.
The 1990s were undoubtedly Williams’ most successful period in F1 with five constructors’ titles in six years with drivers’ titles for Nigel Mansell (1992), Alain Prost (1993), Damon Hill (1996), and Jacques Villeneuve (1997).
Williams was joined on stage by his wife Virginia, Williams co-founder and designer Patrick Head, Williams chairman Adam Parr, as well as other F1 personalities Eddie Jordan, Christian Horner, and Martin Brundle.
After accepting the award, Williams said: “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 except try and avoid the accidents.”
Williams was awarded a CBE in 1987, and later awarded a knighthood for his services to motorsport in 1999. He is also one of a small number of Brits to have been made a Chevalier of France’s Legion d’honneur.