‘Spygate’ engineer returns to Formula 1 with Williams

Mike Coughlan appointed as Williams' chief engineer following team's disastrous start to the new season

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Mike Coughlan will take up his new role next month Photo: D Rosso

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Williams have announced that Mike Coughlan will become chief engineer of the team following their worst ever start to a Formula 1 season.

The 52-year-old, who was fired by McLaren in 2007 and subsequently banned from involvement in F1 for two years for his part in the ‘spygate’ scandal, has since worked for NASCAR team Michael Waltrip Racing, but will return in June as work begins on Williams’ 2012 car.

“Mike Coughlan is a fine engineer with extensive experience across Formula 1 and both civil and defence engineering,” said team principal Sir Frank Williams.

“He left Formula 1 in 2007 because of conduct which he acknowledges was wrong and which he profoundly regrets. His two-year ban from the sport expired some time ago and Mike is now determined to prove himself again.

“Williams are delighted to be able to give him the opportunity to do this and we are very pleased to have one of the most talented and competitive engineers in the sport helping us to return to the front of the grid.”

Coughlan thanked Williams, who have not won a grand prix since 2004, for giving him the opportunity to repair his tarnished reputation. He said: “I am grateful to Williams for giving me this opportunity. My experience in 2007 was life-changing.

“Since then, I have endeavoured to put my skills to good use in the design of the Ocelot vehicle whose purpose is to transport soldiers in safety. I have also enjoyed my time with Michael Waltrip Racing: they are an excellent race team and I wish them well for the future.

“Now, I am looking forward to returning to a sport which I love and to joining a team that I have admired for many years.

“I will dedicate myself to the team and to ensuring that we return to competitiveness while respecting the ethical standards with which Williams have always been synonymous.”

Meanwhile, Williams technical officer Sam Michael and chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson have confirmed they will both step down at the end of the year.

“Both Sam and Jon are talented and driven people who have worked hard for Williams over 10 and five years respectively,” added Williams.

“Nonetheless, they have recognised that the team’s performance is not at the level that it needs to be and have resigned in order to give the team the opportunity to regroup and undertake the changes necessary to get back to the front of the grid.”

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