F1 » 2 December 2011
Williams faces future with new Heads
Patrick Head's departure from the Williams F1 team leaves the reins in new guiding hands.
While he has been trying to scale back his involvement over the past few years, Patrick Head finally bowed out of the Williams F1 line-up after last weekend's British Grand Prix.
Although he will still be involved with the company, Head accepts that it is time for new blood to take over the reins on the F1 side, particularly with the multiple world champion looking to find its way out of slump that has seen it far from challenging at the front of the field since the turn of the century. Head has been with Williams Grand Prix Engineering since it was founded in 1977 and oversaw its rise from struggler to the top of the tree with titles for the likes of Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve. He will now switch his attention to sister company Williams Hybrid Power, which has links to several major sportscar manufacturers.
"Even... when we were winning championships, I didn't go to all the races," Head told GPWeek magazine, "There was usually somebody else, like Frank Dernie [or] Adrian Newey, who did half the races and I did the other half. In recent years, I've been doing less than half the races, anyway. [Now] my focus is going towards Williams Hybrid Power, which is another growing company with about 30 people in it at the moment, doing some very interesting projects away from the F1 side. But I'm still a shareholder in the F1 team, so I will be keeping an eye on how they're getting on."
Among those taking new responsibility for the fortunes of the F1 team is Mark Gillan, who joined the team as chief operations engineer midway through 2011.
"2011 has been a difficult, character building season for the team," he acknowledged after finishing just ninth in the constructors' standings, scoring a paltry five points, "With the new technical management team in place since September, it has been critically important that we learnt as much as we could in the closing stages of the season about the inherent design, build and performance deficiencies of the FW33 to ensure that the FW34 is a much better car come the start of the 2012 season.
"Work is progressing well on the FW34 and we continue to meet both our key performance, development and production targets. As a team, we have a massive task ahead of us, but everyone is absolutely resolute that we do not have another season like 2011 and we all look forward to better times ahead. Of course, the proof of how well we do is simply measured on our final constructors' position and the number of championship points that we have come this time next year."
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