Tag Archives: Mike Coughlan

Tomlinson and Michael make way at Williams while Mike Coughlan returns to F1

Former Ferrari engineer Mike Coughlan has returned to F1

Former Ferrari engineer Mike Coughlan has returned to F1

Today has seen the technical director of Williams, Sam Michael, and chief aerodynamist Jon Tomilson both announce they will be leaving the team at the end of the year.

After a disastrous start to the 2011 season, not scoring a single point in 3 races, and the worst start in the team’s history, Williams have begun a reshuffle of the top heads in the team.

At the same time, the squad has also hired Mike Coughlan, who was banned for two years from F1 for his part in the 2007 “spygate” scandal.

He will join Williams as chief engineer next month.

The following statement has been issued for Michael and Tomlinson:

"Williams F1 today announced that technical director, Sam Michael, and chief 
aerodynamicist, Jon Tomlinson, have resigned from their positions within the company, 
to take effect at the end of 2011.

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."

Meanwhile, Coughlan will rejoin the Formula 1 paddock since he was banned in 2007. He was thrown out after he was discovered exchanging confidential information with Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney. The Ferrari engineer claimed that Coughlan had transmitted information about McLaren’s set-up, pit-stops, weight distribution and other details.

However, Williams believe that Coughlan can still contribute to the team:

"Mike Coughlan is a fine engineer with extensive experience across Formula 1 and 
both civil and defence engineering.

He left Formula 1 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."

In 2008 the FIA advised all top level motor sport teams not to hire Stepney “without conducting appropriate due diligence regarding his suitability for involvement in international motor sport”.

Ferrari have refused to comment on this signing, stating “We’ve nothing to comment about other teams’ choices”.

Ferrari rant attacks new teams

On their official website, Ferrari has attacked Max Mosley, the former FIA president, and the new teams entering Formula 1 this year.

Their statement is as follows:

Only less than three weeks to go until the ultimate form of motor
sport, the Formula 1 World Championship, gets underway, while
celebrating its sixtieth birthday this year. For many of the teams,
this coming week is a crucial one, as the bell rings to signal the
final lap, with the last test session getting underway in Barcelona.
It is one last chance to run the cars on track, to push reliability
to the limit and to try and find some performance. That’s the
situation for many teams but not for all of them. Of the thirteen
teams who signed up, or were induced to sign up, for this year’s
Championship, to date only eleven of them have heeded the call,
turning up on track, some later than others, and while some have
managed just a few hundred kilometres, others have done more, but
at a much reduced pace. As for the twelfth team, Campos Meta, its
shareholder and management structure has been transformed, according
to rumours which have reached the Horse Whisperer through the
paddock telegraph, with a sudden cash injection from a munificent
white knight, well used to this sort of last minute rescue deal.
However, the beneficiaries of this generosity might find the knight
in question expects them to fulfil the role of loyal vassal. All
this means, it is hard to imagine the Dallara designed car showing
its face at the Catalunya Circuit, with Sakhir a more likely venue
to witness the return of the Senna name to a Formula 1 session.

The thirteenth team, USF1, appears to have gone into hiding in
Charlotte, North Carolina, to the dismay of those like the
Argentinian, Lopez, who thought he had found his way into the
Formula 1 paddock, (albeit with help from chairwoman Kirchner,
according to the rumours) and now has to start all over again.
Amazingly, they still have the impudence to claim that everything
is hunky-dory under the starry stripy sky.

Next, we have the Serbian vultures. Firstly, they launched themselves
into a quixotic legal battle with the FIA, then they picked the
bones of Toyota on its death bed. Having got some people on board,
around whom there was still a whiff of past scandals, they are now
hovering around waiting to replace whoever is first to drop out of
the game, possibly with backing from that very same knight in shining
armour whom we mentioned earlier.

This is the legacy of the holy war waged by the former FIA president.
The cause in question was to allow smaller teams to get into Formula
1. This is the outcome: two teams will limp into the start of the
championship, a third is being pushed into the ring by an invisible
hand – you can be sure it is not the hand of Adam Smith – and, as
for the fourth, well, you would do better to call on Missing Persons
to locate it. In the meantime, we have lost two constructors along
the way, in the shape of BMW and Toyota, while at Renault, there’s
not much left other than the name. Was it all worth it?

Another Ferrari rant, and it gets more vicious every single time. Ferrari are in no position to criticise every single team, person and organisation that isn’t an exact replica of them. When Max Mosley left the FIA, we all expected relations between the teams and the FIA to get better. But, the team that makes themselves appear like the “good guys” now come out lashing at Mosley. While the other teams are looking forward to the future, Ferrari just seem to be wallowing in the past, just to take cheap shots at their enemies.

Then, they take their anger out at Campos, calling their cash injection supplier a “munificent white knight”. It’s called a buyout. After this, they take a little shot at Jose Maria Lopez, initaially referring to him just as “the Argentinian”. Ferrari can’t slag off other drivers, only 6 months after they start throwing around their own just to get a few points which they didn’t get anyway.

And, as for calling Stefan GP “vultures”, they aren’t in a position to talk. We are talking about a team which sat behind the FIA for years, poking them into making moves to benefit themselves, and they now seem to think that Stefan GP waiting for a team to drop out (when everyone knows at least one will) is worse. Having said that, they are right about the employees hired “with a whiff of past scandals”. We are of course referring to Mike Coughlan, the McLaren engineer who stole Ferrari data from Rob Smedley, and (supposedly, never proved) tried to sell it on to Renault. The thing is though, why would Ferrari drop criminal proceedings against him, and then whinge years afterwards? But Coughlan did pay Ferrari €180,000 in settlements to drop the case, so it’s all right. Pathetic.

Stefan GP to launch on 25th, and test 2 drivers

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Despite still having no entry for the 2010 world championship, Stefan GP have now announced that they are to test their new car at Portimao, Portugal, on the 25th February.

The car will be launched a few days before this test. I talked earlier today about them sending equipment to Bahrain, now they have moved forward with the news that they will spend 3 days testing in Portimao.

Stefan GP have also said that they are to test two drivers at this 3-day test. If they get a place on the 2010 grid, these two will probably become the team’s drivers. It is understood that Kazuki Nakajima will be one of the drivers.

The car, called the Stefan S01, has been developed by the team, but with technical support from Toyota, ever since Stefan GP bought their data, parts, and chassis. The engine, to be called the Stefan RG-01, has also been serviced by Toyota.

Clearly, the team are very confident, but will it pay off? It is understood that Zoran Stefanovich, the team owner, believes that two teams (probably Campos and USF1) are in trouble financially. He and the team believe that at least one of these teams will not make it to Bahrain, so Stefan will be ready to take their place. That is, if the FIA give them the place.

After all this effort, Stefan should be given a chance, but not while there’s 13 other teams on the grid. I’m getting a bit tired of all the rumours of the new teams struggling, so a stable new team would be a welcome sight.

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