F1 » 29 October 2011
Coughlan now technical director at Williams
Mike Coughlan has assumed Sam Michael's role as head of Williams technical operations.
He may have joined the team as chief engineer following Sam Michael's notice of resignation, but Mike Coughlan has been rapidly elevated to the role of technical director by the Williams team.
Coughlan, the man most heavily implicated in 2007's 'spygate' episode, was tempted away from a sojourn in NASCAR midway through the current season and, having seen a legal challenge to the move from Michael Waltrip Racing settled out of court, has clearly settled in at Grove. Team chairman Adam Parr confirmed his move to technical director during Friday's press conference at the Indian Grand Prix, the first race since Michael left for McLaren, as he responded to questions on Williams' revised backroom structure following the addition of new head of aerodynamics Jason Somerville and chief operations officer Mark Gillan.
"In terms of how they are going, I think it has been a very positive step for us in a number of respects," Parr continued, "First of all, they are all very experienced people. They have a strong aerodynamic interest, particularly amongst Jason and Mark, who worked together as head and deputy head of aero at Toyota, so there is a good understanding between the track and the tunnel.
"I think they have already had quite an impact on the team at the factory in the sense of people seeing some good direction forward and a good way of working, so that's all positive. They essentially view our existing facilities and resources as being good enough to do a much better job than we are doing today. There are some areas where we need to invest a little bit and we are doing that as fast as we can to really try and take a big step forward for next year."
Williams has yet to announce its 2012 driver line-up, but it is unlikely to continue with the current pairing of Pastor Maldonado and Rubens Barrichello, having been linked to both Adrian Sutil and, more significantly, Kimi Raikkonen in recent weeks. Parr has said that there is no requirement for the second driver to bring money to the team, a comment backed up by speculation that Williams is locked in talks with several Gulf region companies, including former sponsors Saudia Airlines, Albilad and TAG.
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