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David Coulthard was particularly delighted that Williams finally returned to winning ways in Barcelona on Sunday, having previously not celebrated a Formula 1 victory since the last round of 2004. The Scot, now a commentator for BBC Sport, made his F1 race debut with the team following Ayrton Senna’s death in 1994.
At Interlagos eight seasons ago, it was Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya who did the honours for Williams; on this occasion, Pastor Maldonado was able to celebrate both his and Venezuela’s maiden Grand Prix success by holding off Fernando Alonso.
“Frank, of course, suffered terrible injuries in a road accident in 1986 and has been a wheelchair user ever since,” Coulthard writes in a column for The Telegraph.
“I love Frank; for his wicked sense of humour, for the fact that he gave me my big break in Formula 1, but most of all for the way he goes about his business, his unquenchable spirit. Having just turned 70, he has been a paraplegic for more than a quarter of a century now and yet his enthusiasm and will to win remain absolute.
“Frank is a proper racer and one of the sport’s most cherished figures. His story is legendary, from the days of conducting team business out of the fabled phone box, to the establishment of Williams F1 as we know it with Patrick Head in 1977, to the multiple World Championships, to bouncing back from his accident.
“Racing is in his DNA, which is why we should not be surprised to see a Williams back on the top step of the podium.”
After Sunday’s race, Williams was rushed out of the team garage as a fuel-related fire caused havoc in the pit lane, also destroying crucial IT hardware for the team.
“It will not be easy to bounce back from the damage of the fire to challenge in Monaco next week, but you can bet they will,” Coulthard adds. “Just as they did after Ayrton Senna died at Imola in 1994. It’s what they do. Racing is in their DNA.”
Williams has now won 114 Formula 1 races, with the first having been with Switzerland’s Clay Regazzoni at the 1979 British Grand Prix. The Oxfordshire-based outfit remains second for the highest number of constructors’ titles won, with its total of nine second only to Ferrari’s 16.
Top: Coulthard, who had replaced the late Ayrton Senna, en route to his first career victory for Williams in the 1995 Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril
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