Williams signs up Somerville and Gillan
28 June 2011 – In its latest technical development, Williams has signed up Jason Somerville and Mark Gillan. The former takes on the role of Head of Aerodynamics as the latter adopts the Chief Operations Engineer position. Current technical heads Sam Michael and Jon Tomlinson will be leaving the former Champion team at the end of 2011.
As confirmed by Williams in a Tuesday morning press release, Somerville will officially begin work at the Grove factory on 15 August before Gillan joins from 1 October and attends races, starting with a trip to the Japanese Grand Prix. The duo will work alongside newly-appointed Chief Engineer Mike Coughlan, both on the outfit’s current car and its FW34 chassis of 2012.
“Williams F1 is looking forward to welcoming Jason and Mark to the team,” says Team Principal and joint owner Sir Frank Williams. “They bring with them talent, experience and good team skills. We now feel that, together with Mike Coughlan, Jason and Mark can form the right technical leadership to take the team forward as we work our way back to the front of the grid.”
2011 does not mark Somerville’s first stint with Williams, as he also worked for the company in 1997 as aerodynamicist for the winning sports car of the 1999 Sebring 12 Hour race and Le Mans 24 Hours for Williams and BMW. After moving to Williams’ F1 squad from 1999, he switched to Toyota in 2003 to become Deputy Head of Aerodynamics. As the Japanese manufacturer departed, Somerville moved to Renault in 2009 and, as Project Leader of Aerodynamics, has been a key player behind the current R31 of Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov.
Gillan began his F1 career as a vehicle dynamicist at McLaren in 1998 before being promoted to Principal Operational Aerodynamicist for 2001.In 2002, he made the switch to Jaguar as Head of Vehicle Performance and Chief Race and Test Engineer. At the end of 2005, Gillan left the team – by then Red Bull Racing – to become a professor at the University of Surrey before moving back into F1 and becoming Head of Aerodynamics at Toyota.