Williams appoint spygate exile Coughlan

Mike Coughlan

Mike Coughlan pictured in 2007 when working as McLaren designer

May.3 (AT&T Williams) In the wake of the high ranking resignations of  Williams technical boss Sam Michael and the team’s aero chief Jon Tomlinson, comes the announcement that the Grove based team have appointed Mike Coughlan in the role of Chief Engineer.

Mike Coughlan

Mike Coughlan with Stefan GP boss Zoran Stefanovic

In 2007 Coughlan, working for McLaren at the time, was involved in an espionage controversy after he obtained confidential technical information from Ferrari. Subsequently McLaren was excluded from that year’s constructors’ championship and fined $100-million and Coughlan banned from F1 for two years. The media termed the scandal “spygate”.

Coughlan’s last involvement with F1 was when he worked briefly for Stefan Grand Prix in late 2009 when the Serbian team was trying to gain an entry into Formula One for the 2010 season. After the team’s unsuccessful bid Coughlan was hired by Michael Waltrip Racing, Nascar taem, as director of vehicle design.

Williams FI Team statement:

Williams F1 today announced that Mike Coughlan will join the team in June 2011 in the role of Chief Engineer.

Mike Coughlan undertook his training and education at Rolls Royce and Brunel University. He began his Formula One career at Lotus where he worked his way up to Chief Designer. He subsequently worked for Tyrrell, Ferrari and Arrows before joining McLaren in 2002 as Chief Designer.

Mike left Formula One in 2007 as a result of his role in the ‘Spygate’ affair. Since then, Mike has applied his skills principally as Chief Engineer in the development of the Ocelot Light Protected Patrol Vehicle. He joins Williams F1 from NASCAR competitor, Michael Waltrip Racing.

Frank Williams, Team Principal, said: “Mike Coughlan is a fine engineer with extensive experience across Formula One and both civil and defence engineering. He left Formula One 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 is 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. This is the first step in re-building and strengthening our technical group. We will announce the next steps as they develop.”

Mike Coughlan commented, “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 has always been synonymous.”

Read about resignations of  Williams technical boss Sam Michael and the team’s aero chief Jon Tomlinson

  • Twiinz

    It’s a sad day when an upstanding guy like Sam Micheal has to go and such an honorable team like Williams has to hire a known cheater like Coughlin. I wonder if all the people that had this opinion of Mike in 2007 will speak to this or be silent because he is at Williams. I’m sure if Mike went to a top team, people would be pissed about it. Time will tell.
    Also, if it is ok for Coughlin to return, then I think everyone that gripes about Flavio should have a big ole glass of shut up. :) He deserves the same opportunity afforded to Mike.

  • Nemo

    Williams worst start in over 30yrs. Its sad that Sam Michaels is going, but something had to happen at that team. Great time to get in and buy a few of their shares for the future

  • h.wilson

    Bad career move for this guy..nothing worth stealing at Williams..