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Robinson leaves Williams

JAMES ROBINSON, the senior operations engineer at Williams F1, has left the Grove team with immediate effect. He will remain under contract to Williams until the end of the year but will not be active at races. Robinson is rumored to be on his way to a new job at Jaguar Racing but this has yet to be confirmed. In the past he has also had talks with British American Racing and might be a good recruit for the team.

Robinson's sudden departure from Williams would seem to suggest that there was a major falling-out but our sources at Williams say that Robinson's departure had been planned before it came to light that Williams was going to recruit Jordan engineer Sam Michael. The sudden nature of the departure may have been caused by Robinson's desire to have a break before starting a new job. He recently bought a vintage Bentley which he wants to restore and is planning to take some time off and go touring around France.

Robinson first joined Williams in 1984 as a design engineer and three years later engineered Nelson Piquet to the 1987 World Championship. After a year working with Riccardo Patrese he moved to Arrows to become chief engineer. When Ross Brawn left Arrows at the end of 1990 Robinson was named technical director of the team but he was replaced after one season by Alan Jenkins. Robinson moved to McLaren where he engineered Ayrton Senna to the World Championship in 1991. He later transferred to the McLaren sportscar program before returning to Williams in 1996 to oversee race engineering and call the team's strategies in races.

His job at Grands Prix is likely to be taken over by the team's senior race engineer Tim Preston, who is currently working with Jenson Button. Sam Michael is expected to work next year with Ralf Schumacher and so the team's other race engineer Craig Wilson will probably end up with Juan Pablo Montoya in 2001.

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