Review of Williams

Williams (2017)
7/10
Being Frank
10 July 2019
One thing I learnt early on in this documentary was that Sir Frank Williams is from the north east and came from a poor working class background.

This documentary could have explored a lot of areas about the Williams racing team. How in the early 1990s they dominated Formula 1 but Frank Williams could or would not keep hold of his best drivers.

It was as if having the best car was enough for him and the driver's role was secondary.

Wisely it concentrated on Frank Williams the man, his early years in racing and then up to his accident with the immediate aftermath.

Williams is a great name in Formula One but the glory days are behind it. Frank Williams started out as a racer. A poor man living with posh Eton educated racers.

However although Frank loved speed he was not a skilled enough racer. He made money in spare parts, buying old racing cars, refurbishing them and selling them on, usually back to the people he bought it off from in the first place. In short he was a bit of a hustler.

Frank got enough money to start his own racing team in the late 1960s but he did not have enough money to keep it going. His cheques usually bounced.

His first racing driver Piers Courage died in 1970 at the Dutch Grand Prix. An incident that still haunts him even now.

Williams getting Patrick Head in his team in 1977 saw the team moving from making up the numbers to winners. They had the fastest car and won their first world driver's championship in 1980 with Alan Jones.

In the 1980s the Williams team cemented their status as one of top outfits in F1. They had some of the best drivers but in 1986, tragedy struck as Frank Williams ended up paralysed in a car accident in the south of France.

A traumatic time for the Williams racing team and his family. It was his wife Virginia who first had to fight to keep him alive and then keep him going so he could return to his team wheelchair bound.

It is clear in this documentary that like other F1 team owners. Frank Williams is a driven man with a narrow vision. He eats, breathes and lives for his team.

Family was a distant second. I think he preferred to go on a long run than spend times with his family. He wooed his wife Virginia who left her husband for him. After their wedding he went straight to work, there was no time for a celebratory lunch.

Virginia took her children to Spain for a holiday for 16 years, Frank did not accompany them once. You felt that this has caused issues with some of his children.

Even Virginia was upset that once the team became successful, Frank had his head turned by the beautiful women who hung around Formula 1.

Frank Williams shows few emotions and claims to have little regrets about the past and his accident which was his fault. I find that doubtful.

Now widowed he has little time for his family home. He still lives and breaths F1 even though the Williams team is a shadow of what it used to be.

This was a warts and all documentary. It was truthful up to a point. I did sense there were some family issues that were held back. Obviously I sensed Frank Williams was reluctantly to talk about the death of Ayrton Senna.
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