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”.