Pat Symonds, the former Renault F1 engineering head who was banned from Formula One in 2009 after the Singapore Grand Prix crash scandal, has joined Williams as chief technical officer.
Williams, the former champions who have yet to score a point in nine races this season, announced the move on Tuesday and said their current technical head Mike Coughlan had left the team with immediate effect.
Coughlan had also joined Williams after serving a ban, of two-years, imposed in 2007 for his role in a spying controversy that led to McLaren being handed a record £ 100 million ($ 151.05 million) fine.
The highly-rated Symonds, who has been working with back-markers Marussia as a technical consultant under the terms of the ban that expires this year, will start work at the Williams factory on Aug. 19.
“I’m delighted that Pat is joining the team,” founder Frank Williams said in a statement.
“His technical capabilities and sporting successes speak for themselves and I’m sure that his knowledge and leadership will contribute considerably to the success that all of us at Williams are working hard to achieve.”
Symonds said he was honoured “to be asked to play a role in returning the team to its rightful place at the pinnacle of F1″.
Williams has fallen on hard times since its years of dominance. Although they won in Spain with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado in 2012, that was their first race victory in nearly eight years.
Symonds has been in F1 for 30 years and has a formidable reputation as an engineer and strategist, working with the young Ayrton Senna at Toleman in 1984 and then seven time champion Michael Schumacher at Benetton.
With Spaniard Fernando Alonso at Renault he added more success to his resume and can boast of playing a part in 32 race wins, four drivers’ titles and three constructors’ championships to date.
The 2008 Singapore Grand Prix was the win that stained his record, however, after the ‘Crashgate’ scandal broke a year later.
Symonds left Renault in 2009 along with flamboyant team boss Flavio Briatore after Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet Jr told the governing FIA that he had been ordered to crash deliberately into a wall so that Alonso – (not implicated in the scandal) could win.
“Mr Symonds, in the presence of Mr Briatore, asked me if I would be willing to sacrifice my race for the team by ‘causing a Safety Car’,” Piquet declared after being promised immunity from prosecution if he told the truth.
“Mr Symonds took me aside to a quiet corner and, using a map, pointed me to the exact corner of the track where I should crash,” Piquet added in his statement.
Renault did not dispute the allegations and Symonds, who ran the race strategy and was Briatore’s deputy, was banned initially for five years although that was later overturned.
Symonds, who had declared his “eternal regret and shame” at what happened in a letter to the FIA, agreed not to work in F1 other than as a consultant until 2013.
“Williams’ sporting and engineering heritage dictates that we secure the finest talent available,” said Williams chief executive Mike O’Driscoll.
“Pat brings unrivalled technical and managerial skills in addition to a proven ability to deliver on track results. Our commitment to return Williams to winning ways is absolute and this appointment is yet more evidence of our collective desire to return the team to the position it deserves.” (Reuters)
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The Williams F1 Team is pleased to announce the appointment of Pat Symonds as Chief Technical Officer. Effective 19th August, Symonds joins Williams from the Marussia F1 Team where he held the position of Technical Consultant.
Symonds’ 30 year Formula One career has seen him achieve success with some of the sport’s most accomplished teams and drivers. Having started his career at Toleman, it was with Benetton and subsequently Renault that he achieved extraordinary success. His partnerships with Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso produced 32 race wins, four Drivers’ World Championships and three Constructors’ World Championships. Since 2009, he has run his own high technology and motorsports consultancy in addition to acting as a Technical Consultant to the Marussia F1 Team.
Speaking about the appointment, Williams F1 Team Founder and Team Principal Sir Frank Williams said; “I’m delighted that Pat is joining the team. His technical capabilities and sporting successes speak for themselves and I’m sure that his knowledge and leadership will contribute considerably to the success that all of us at Williams are working hard to achieve.”
Mike O’Driscoll, Group Chief Executive Officer said; “Williams’ sporting and engineering heritage dictates that we secure the finest talent available. Pat brings unrivalled technical and managerial skills in addition to a proven ability to deliver on track results. Our commitment to return Williams to winning ways is absolute and this appointment is yet more evidence of our collective desire to return the team to the position it deserves.”
Pat Symonds said; “Williams is a team steeped in success and engineering excellence and I’m honoured to be asked to play a role in returning the team to its rightful place at the pinnacle of Formula One. Sir Frank, Mike and Claire have put in place the foundations for success and I’m immensely excited to begin this new challenge.”
The team added in a separate press release: “The Williams F1 Team has announced that Mike Coughlan has stepped down from his position as Technical Director and will leave the team with immediate effect. The team thanks him for the significant contribution he has made since 2011 and wishes him well in his future endeavours.” (Williams)