Williams Martini Racing has appointed Doug McKiernan as its new chief engineer of its Formula 1 technical department ahead of the 2018 season.

The former McLaren technical chief left the Woking-based squad back in 2015 but is set for an F1 comeback in preparation for the new season with Williams working alongside chief technical officer Paddy Lowe.

Lowe and McKiernan worked together at McLaren when the new Williams appointment joined Lowe at McLaren in 1999 as an aerodynamic analyst before rising through the ranks as a chief aerodynamicist, head of aerodynamics before being appoint chief engineer.

Williams technical boss Lowe, who left McLaren in 2013 to join Mercedes before his move to the Grove-based squad last year, says that previous close working relationship was key behind his decision to get McKiernan on board and is keen to build progress ahead of the 2018 season.

“Having worked with Doug closely between 2007 and 2012, I am sure that his talent and experience will significantly strengthen our team and we are delighted that he is joining us,” Lowe said. “Since returning to Williams last year, it has become clear that in order help move the team forward we need greater engineering resources.

“We have already started to make excellent progress, with Dirk de Beer our Head of Aerodynamics leading an invigorated aerodynamics team.

“The addition of Doug to the senior team, supporting our Chief Designer Ed Wood and Dirk in particular, will give us the breadth for more focus on technical strategy, and the optimisation of car architecture across design and aerodynamics.”

McKiernan is relishing his new role at Williams and has been impressed by the team’s early efforts with its 2018 F1 car, the FW41, that was launched last week in London.

“It is a pleasure to be joining Williams,” McKiernan said. “The team has exciting plans for the future, and it is great to see the work already being done with the aerodynamic and engineering teams to produce the FW41, whilst also looking ahead to future cars as Williams continues its charge to move further forwards on the grid.

“The team already has a strong engineering department, and I hope that I can further add to that to continue driving forward the development of the FW41 and future cars.”

Williams has received a boost in budget with the arrival of Sergey Sirotkin and his wealthy Russian backers for 2018 with reports the funding would be directed into the development and engineering of the team’s F1 car.

The British squad, who last won a Grand Prix back in 2012, is aiming to climb back up the grid after finishing in fifth place for a second consecutive year in the F1 world constructors’ championship last season having enjoyed back-to-back third places in the standings in 2014 and 2015.