MAY 3, 2011
Williams F1 announces engineering shake-up
There was a shakeup in the engineering department of Williams F1 today, with technical director Sam Michael and chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson resigning from the team, as the Grove operation announced on Tuesday the appointment of Mike Coughlan as Chief Engineer.
Both men are contracted through the end of the 2011 season, but it remains to be seen how long they will remain active in the day-to-day running of the team, and it is doubtful that they will have any involvement in the design of next year's chassis design.
Coughlan's appointment is a controversial one as he left F1 in disgrace after being banned for two years by the FIA following his involvement in the spy scandal that cost McLaren a $100m dollar fine in September of 2007.
Frank Williams said, "Both Sam and Jon are talented and driven people who have worked hard for Williams over 10 and five years respectively. Nonetheless, they have recognised that the team's performance is not at the level that it needs to be and have resigned in order to give the team the opportunity to regroup and undertake the changes necessary to get back to the front of the grid. Both will continue to work in their present positions through until the end of the year to ensure that the team maintains focus and momentum during the 2011 season. We are very grateful to Sam and to Jon for their professional approach."
On Coughlan's appointment, Williams said, "Mike Coughlan is a fine engineer with extensive experience across Formula One and both civil and defence engineering. He left Formula One in 2007 because of conduct which he acknowledges was wrong and which he profoundly regrets. His two year ban from the sport expired some time ago and Mike is now determined to prove himself again. Williams is delighted to be able to give him the opportunity to do this and we are very pleased to have one of the most talented and competitive engineers in the sport helping us to return to the front of the grid. This is the first step in re-building and strengthening our technical group. We will announce the next steps as they develop."
Mike Coughlan said, "I am grateful to Williams for giving me this opportunity. My experience in 2007 was life-changing. Since then, I have endeavoured to put my skills to good use in the design of the Ocelot vehicle whose purpose is to transport soldiers in safety. I have also enjoyed my time with Michael Waltrip Racing: they are an excellent race team and I wish them well for the future. Now, I am looking forward to returning to a sport which I love and to joining a team that I have admired for many years. I will dedicate myself to the team and to ensuring that we return to competitiveness while respecting the ethical standards with which Williams has always been synonymous."