Williams eyes bigger role for Coughlan

Williams will wait until the end of the season to decide whether newly signed chief engineer Mike Coughlan becomes it new technical director

Williams eyes bigger role for Coughlan

Coughlan will join the Grove-based outfit in June and return to a role in Formula 1 for the first time since he left the sport in the wake of his involvement in the 2007 McLaren spy scandal.

Williams want to see how Coughlan settles into the role alongside outgoing technical director Sam Michael before evaluating whether he steps up to replace him, or another senior staff member is added to the roster.

Williams Chairman Adam Parr said on Tuesday: "We have a technical director until the end of the year, and it is important to have clarity in the roles.

"Mike, as chief engineer, will be driving forward our engineering process and ensuring systems are in place for success. He will be responsible for the FW34, next year's car, and how that develops.

"Sam will remain accountable for this year's car, and because there are minimal changes in rules from this year to next, there is a lot of continuity. That is the way it will run until the end of the year, and then we will make a decision about whether Mike becomes technical director, or remains as chief engineer and we bring someone alongside him as technical director."

Coughlan's appointment is not without its controversy, because of his involvement in F1's spy case in 2007 that resulted in him receiving a two-year ban from the sport.

Parr admitted that Coughlan's involvement in the spy affair had been a consideration in Williams' decision, but felt that the team was right to let the former McLaren technical chief move on from the matter.

"Obviously it was something we had to think about," he explained. "My view is quite simple: you do something wrong, you get a penalty, you serve your time and you acknowledge what you did was wrong.

"Everyone has the right to move beyond that - otherwise, what was portrayed as a two-year penalty is a lifetime penalty, and that is not right.

"One thing I will say, is that that experience makes you a better person. If you skate through life with one success after another, then it is hard to change and learn to become a better person. Whether that is my experience or his experience, you learn from it."

Parr believes that the changes that have been put in place would be enough to allow the team to move forward from its difficult start to the year.

"I have sat down with every senior aerodynamicist in the team and talked through what they see as strengths and weaknesses, and what changes they would like to have seen.

"It is not about structure. We believe we have a good group of people who can deliver a competitive car. It will be down to the new chief aerodynamicist and Mike Coughlan and any other person we bring in to decide for themselves how we can strengthen what we do.

"Clearly there are changes that need to be made, that is fine tuning and refinement and reinforcement, and I am looking to Mike in the first instance to help with that."

Parr said he hoped that the team would have a new chief aerodynamicist in place before the end of the year to replace Jon Tomlinson, who will leave the outfit when his current contract expires.

"We need to appoint a new chief aerodynamicist, and our goal is to do that before end of season - and by that I mean they have joined us by then.

"One significant change is that Patrick Head has made it clear that he will be retiring this year, so at some point that will happen - although that is nothing to do with restructuring. He is 65 and he had always signalled that he would move to his next set of interests.

"There is quite a bit of change coming - but it is all structured and pre-planned, so by the end of the year we will have a clear new group for 2012 and beyond."

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