Sir Frank Williams, founder of the Formula 1 team Williams Racing, passed away Sunday, the team confirmed in a statement from the family.
Williams, 79, was admitted to the hospital Friday for an unknown reason and, a few days later, died peacefully surrounded by loved ones.
"Today we pay tribute to our much loved and inspirational figurehead," the team said in the statement. "Frank will be sorely missed."
Williams co-founded Williams Racing in 1977 and was the longest-tenured Team Principal in the sport as he reached the 50-year mark in 2019. After winning seven driver's championships and seven constructor's titles, he handed over primary responsibility of Williams Racing to his daughter, Claire, in 2012. The team was sold to Dorilton Capital last August.
Williams suffered a spinal cord injury after a car crash in 1986 that left him paralyzed. He was slowed down further in 2016 when he was hospitalized for pneumonia and couldn't travel to races.
Current Williams drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi paid their respects to their founding father on social media.
"Today, we say goodbye to the man who defined our team," Russell said. "Sir Frank was such a genuinely wonderful human being and I’ll always remember the laughs we shared. He was more than a boss, he was a mentor and a friend to everybody who joined the Williams Racing family and so many others."
"RIP Sir Frank Williams. Such sad news," Latifi wrote with a sad emoji and a blue heart. "A huge loss for our sport and our team. It’s been an honour to represent your name on the world stage and we will continue to push hard to take the team back up the grid."
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and several teams also paid their respects to Williams on Twitter.