Sam Michael has admitted that he expects to remain a part of the F1 fraternity when his current contract with the Williams team ends, despite agreeing to part company with the Grove outfit after its poor start to the 2011 campaign.
The Australian confirmed that he would resign from his post as technical director as a result of Williams failing to register a points finish in the first three races of the year, but said that he would remain with the team until the end of the season, seeing out his contract. Michael joined Williams in 2001, and enjoyed three years in the top three of the constructors' championship before the team's form fell away following its split with BMW - a slump that coincided with, but not necessarily caused by, Michael's promotion to technical director.
The 40-year old denied that he had been forced to quit by anyone in the team, and shrugged off talk that he had been made a scapegoat for the scoreless start to the year, but will depart along with chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson once controversial replacement Mike Coughlan has settled in.
"It was my decision to leave Williams," Michael insisted to the BBC
, "I thought it was the right thing given that the board wanted to review the technical structure of the company and that was going to involve some changes in the staff that work for me and are employed by me. I thought it was wholly correct that as technical director I take responsibility if the board decided that the performances was not going to be strong enough and I wasn't prepared to not be included in that review. So it was my decision to resign, which I did after the Malaysian Grand Prix."
With charges both current and former singing his praises, however, the former Lotus and Jordan employee insisted that he would still be involved in F1 once his tenure with Williams was over.
"I've had some interest already from outside, which is encouraging," he revealed, "I'll clearly be in F1 next year. Where? I don't know yet. I can't talk about it.
"The message I've been sending is that I really want to spend at least the next couple of months getting the FW33 to where it should be and where I know it is as a base car because my priority is that first. I have seven months left at Williams and my contract with them is to develop the car and make sure it's as high performing and reliable as possible.
"There might be a point when new engineers come in that Williams want me to step back from some of that work, but at this stage that's not even a discussion. As far as I'm concerned it's just business as usual until I finish. If it gets to the point where Williams decide it's better for someone else to do it, that's fine. But I want to leave Williams very professionally and in the best position going forward."