The day after the most controversial appointment of the F1 2011 campaign with the announcement that shamed 'Spygate' conspirator Mike Coughlan is to join Williams next month, all manner of chaos seems to have broken out inside the former multiple world championship-winning operation, with a public rift between Adam Parr and Patrick Head and a team insider admitting that Sam Michael and Jon Tomlinson were merely 'scapegoats'.
Yesterday (Tuesday) it was confirmed that in the wake of Williams' worst start to an F1 season in its history and a nosedive in the value of the team's shares on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, technical director Michael and chief aerodynamicist Tomlinson will stand down at the end of 2011, with Coughlan coming on-board as chief engineer [see separate story – click here
]. However, what had been suspected in some quarters has now been corroborated.
“There are a few things wrong at Williams at the moment,” a team insider told British newspaper The Guardian
, “and Sam and Jon are little more than scapegoats. Sam is a good man who was overworked, though he probably should have appointed better people around him.”
Having played a leading role in the infamous 'Spygate' scandal of 2007 after being found in possession of confidential documents belonging to Ferrari, the signing of former McLaren chief designer Coughlan has raised more than a few eyebrows within the sport – but Williams chairman Parr is adamant that the 52-year-old deserves a second chance.
“If someone is given a two-year penalty, but then you turn around and say it means for life then that is just wrong,” he mused. “People make mistakes – very serious mistakes in his case – but he has acknowledged it and he has served a very severe penalty. He has been severely punished and served his time, and now it is time for him to move forward.”
It seems, however, that Coughlan is not Williams' sole problem. At the same time as he admitted to having tendered his own resignation – an offer that was refused – Parr revealed that team co-founder and director of engineering Head 'has made it clear that he will be retiring at some point this year' having 'already signalled that it's time for him to move on to his next set of interests in life' [see separate story – click here
It is an assertion that has clearly surprised and angered Head – whose reaction hints at the kind of infighting and disarray reigning behind-the-scenes.
“What you are telling me is news to me,” retorted the 64-year-old, who earned more than £30 million by selling over half of his shares in the Grove-based outfit earlier this year, when he had also underlined that 'I want to play my part in bringing Williams back to the front of the grid'. “I wasn't aware that Adam had said that. He wasn't in a position to make that statement. My plans are not in the public domain, and they will only be when I make my own statement later in the year.”