Formula 1 News

Structural changes at Williams F1.

'Spygate' engineer, Mike Coughlan, returns to F1, while Sam Michael and Jon Tomlinson will depart at the end of the season.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

LONDON, May 3, 2011 (AFP) - Mike Coughlan, who was the centre of the 'spygate' scandal that rocked Formula One back in 2007, returned to Grans Prix racing on Tuesday after being appointed chief engineer of the Williams team.

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In addition, Williams F1 also 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.

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Frank Williams, Team Principal, 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.”

Coughlan was working for Williams's British rivals McLaren when he was suspended from the sport for two years after being found to be in possession of confidential documents belonging to F1 giants Ferrari.

But with Williams struggling for points this season, team principal Frank Williams defended his decision to hire Coughlan by saying: "Mike 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 rebuilding and strengthening our technical group. We will announce the next steps as they develop."

Coughlan, who during his ban from Formula One worked for NASCAR team Michael Waltrip Racing, said: "I am grateful to Williams for giving me this opportunity.

"My experience in 2007 was life-changing. Now, I am looking forward to returning to a sport which I love and to joining a team I have admired for many years.

"I will dedicate myself to the team and to ensuring we return to competitiveness, while respecting the ethical standards with which Williams has always been synonymous."

Coughlan's appointment came on the same day that Williams's technical director, Sam Michael, and chief aerodynamicist, Jon Tomlinson, both announced resignations that will take effect at the end of the year.

Williams have not won a Grand Prix since 2004 and have yet to score a point this season after three races.

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