“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.”
“Mike Coughlan is a fine engineer with extensive experience across F1 and both civil and defence engineering,” added Williams. “He left F1 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.”
Having reduced his hands-on commitment in recent years, Williams co-founder and long-time director of engineering Patrick Head is understood to be preparing to step down completely to herald an entirely new era for the team's technical department – one that has been ushered in, it would seem, by under-pressure chairman Adam Parr.
The Englishman is concerned by low morale and the decline in value of Williams' shares on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and after the Oxfordshire concern finished eighth in the constructors' standings in 2008, seventh in 2009 and sixth in 2010, Parr has conceded that the goal for F1 2011 is to continue that upward progress with a 'minimum' of fifth – a goal that right now looks nigh-on impossible, even if it is hoped that a raft of updates for the upcoming four outings will begin to turn the tide around and avert an impending crisis.