Sir Frank Williams, who has spent more than 40 years as a racing team owner, will be attending his 600th grand prix this weekend.
And the most tenacious privateer in the sport, whose first F1 race as an entrant was the Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuic Park in 1969, says he has no plans to retire yet.
Sir Frank, 66, was laconic when asked how much the anniversary meant to him, saying: “It’s a long journey, but it doesn’t mean a great deal. I’ve enjoyed most of it, that’s the important thing. It’s a great place to be.”
And his experience of his 600th grand prix should be considerably different from the first he ever attended as a spectator: “I hitch-hiked from Nottingham to Silverstone, which is 70 miles, on race day. Iin July, I think it must have been, 1955.
“It was won by Peter Collins in a Ferrari. It took eight hours to get there and about 16 to get back, but it was worth it. I’m not exaggerating.”
Sir Frank is optimistic about the future of the British Grand Prix: “I think [Bernie Ecclestone] recognises that he must keep the core heritage races, which I understand to be Britain, Monte Carlo, Germany, Italy and France.
“I don’t think they’ll disappear. Even if he gets less money from them. [But] I can’t second-guess Bernie that well.”
His partner and long-time collaborator Patrick Head said he was delighted to see him reach the “distinguished” anniversary.
“For Frank to reach 600 grands prix is a hell of an achievement. I know this will sound rather trite, but he really loves Formula One, and motor racing in general, and I think that’s the secret of his longevity.
“Being Frank, I expect him to be the least interested person in the 600 celebrations in Monaco. He’ll be too busy thinking about the future!”
And former Williams champion Keke Rosberg, father of current team driver Nico, also paid a great tribute: “His situation is unique because he really is the last team principal in the pit lane that goes motor racing for its true essence, and that’s to race.
“He has a great team around him, and I hope Williams get back to winning because that is the only thing that matters to Frank.”