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The Williams team decline can be linked to when patriarch Frank Williams ceased to run the day to day operations, former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told AFP

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Formula One pioneer Frank Williams ‘stable’ in hospital

Frank Williams has been admitted to hospital © AFP / JOHN THYS

London, United Kingdom, Dec 15 – Frank Williams, who built the Williams team into a dominant Formula One force in the 1980s and 1990s, is in a stable condition after being admitted to hospital, the team announced late Tuesday.

The 78-year-old established the team in 1977 and went on to win nine constructors’ world championships and seven drivers’ titles, although the most recent triumphs came in 1997.

“Sir Frank Williams has recently been admitted to hospital where he is currently in a stable condition,” the team said in a statement without giving medical details.

“Frank’s medical condition is a private matter and therefore the family will not be releasing any further details at this time.

“We will ask you to respect the family’s privacy. The team will release a further update in due course.”

Williams has used a wheelchair since being injured in a car crash in France in 1986.

He spent a period in hospital after contracting pneumonia in 2016 and subsequently stopped travelling to races, although he did make a rare appearance at last year’s British Grand Prix.

The Englishman stepped down from the board of Williams Formula One in 2012, and his family ended 43 years of involvement in the team in September, following its sale to Dorilton Capital.

In 1977, Frank Williams joined forces with innovative motor racing engineer Patrick Head to launch the Williams Formula One team.

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Clay Regazzoni registered the team’s first grand prix win at Silverstone in 1979 and a year later Australian Alan Jones won the team’s first drivers’ title.

Keke Rosberg took the 1982 title, with five more captured in a golden period between 1987 and 1997, all after Williams’ ill-fated 1986 dash to catch a flight in France and the car crash that left him paralysed.

The wheelchair-bound Williams steered Nelson Piquet to the following season’s title, with Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost following up in 1992 and 1993.

Ayrton Senna, who had won three world championships with McLaren, joined for the 1994 season, only to lose his life in a high-speed crash at Imola.

The last Williams driver to win a world championship was Canada’s Jacques Villeneuve in 1997.

The team’s nine constructors’ crowns place Williams second only to Ferrari in the all-time Formula One list. But the outfit has under-performed in recent years, consistently running at the back of the pack.

Williams have not won a race since 2012 and failed to score a point in the world championship that ended in Abu Dhabi last weekend, finishing last of the 10 teams on the grid.

In August the team announced they had been acquired by US investment firm Dorilton Capital, with Frank leaving his role as team principal and his daughter Claire, who had run the team on a day-to-day basis since 2013, also stepping aside after September’s Italian Grand Prix.

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