Lewis Hamilton has paid tribute to outgoing Williams boss Sir Frank Williams, who he has praised as “one of the most honest people in Formula 1”.

Williams, who founded the Grove-based outfit in 1977 and led the team to 16 world championships and 114 grand prix victories, is to step down from the team along with daughter Claire Williams following this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

The company will be made up of a new three-man board of directors after Monza, with two of them being high-ranking members of the Dorilton Capital US investment firm which recently announced a takeover of one of F1’s most famous teams.

“I’m a big fan of Sir Frank and his incredible contribution to the sport,” said Hamilton. “He was always so positive to me, he was one of the people I respected most here.

“I think he was probably one of the most honest, if not the most honest, people here in Formula 1. So it’s definitely sad to see the end of the chapter, the end of a book. But I think their legacy will continue as I believe they keep the name at least.

“I was hopeful at some stage that they were going to come back and be back at the front,” Hamilton added. “I remember dreaming of driving the car that Mansell had or DC’s [David Coulthard’s] car, something like that.

“But it never turned into an option, really a real option for me. And that’s when I moved obviously to Mercedes. So I wish them all the best and all the health in the world and on their next endeavours.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas also paid tribute to Sir Frank Williams, who handed the Finn his F1 debut with Williams.

“They definitely gave me my break into Formula 1,” Bottas explained.

“I still remember the first day I went into the factory and eventually getting the opportunity to be a test driver. Then, using that opportunity and they gave me the opportunity to be a race driver.

“They really believed in me and gave me the opportunity to show what I can do. Without Williams, especially without Frank, who at the time was still very much in charge, I wouldn’t be here, so I’m forever thankful for Williams, for how they helped me and how they made me develop as a driver.

“I got my first points with them, my first Formula 1 podium with them. Of course, as the time went on, Claire became more involved.

“To be honest, I was quite sad to see the news that the family is kind of stepping away from the race team and even Frank is going to be pretty much on the side of what his life project.

“He has done really well and I think the whole family should be very proud of what they have achieved.

“Anyone who doesn’t know about Formula 1 history just has to google to see their results, the records they hold, because of they achieved in Formula 1 is very impressive for a family team. Very sad, but very, very thankful to everyone there.”

 

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