THE owner and co-founder of Oxfordshire's Williams Grand Prix Engineering is celebrating a record half century as a Formula One team principal.

Sir Frank Williams will mark the 50-year anniversary with the Grove-based team during this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

Three years after setting up Frank Williams Racing Cars, he bought a Brabham F1 chassis and entered the 1969 Formula One campaign.

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Now 77, Sir Frank later sold the team, before joining forces with Patrick Head to set up a new one – Williams Grand Prix Engineering – in an empty carpet factory.

In its second full season, 40 years ago, the team won their first race.

But in March 1986, he suffered a car crash that left him in a wheelchair. He was back at the helm nine months after the accident – and has been there ever since.

Speaking about the anniversary, he said: “I haven’t thought about it much. I can’t say I’ve loved every minute, because moments have been very difficult - I’ve lost my wife, I’ve lost drivers. But F1 has been very good to me.

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"We’ve had great success but there’s a well-known expression in F1: ‘You’re only as good as your last race.’ We will keep on fighting – and I’m not going anywhere yet.”

His daughter Claire Williams added: “Dad has the most extraordinary tenacity and resilience but I think it all comes down to his passion. He just loves F1, it’s his life.

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"Formula One gave him a community. Certainly after the accident, it gave him something to live for, as much as his family did.

"Williams is what kept him going, which is why he refers to F1 as his oxygen. He lives and breathes for it, and continues to do so today.”