New Williams also debuting at first test
20 December 2011 – Williams has joined Ferrari and McLaren by stating that its new car will be ready for testing as soon as pre-season action begins at Jerez. For 2012, the former World Champion team is running with a completely reshuffled technical department headed up by Mike Coughlan.
A former McLaren employee, Coughlan is making his full-time return to Formula 1 for the first time since being involved in the ‘Spygate’ race-fixing scandal of 2007. As Technical Director, he will be working closely with fellow Williams debutants Mark Gillan (Head of Race Operations) and Jason Somerville (Head of Aerodynamics).
“The car is slated to be delivered to the race shop in mid-January and we’ll be ready to go to the first test in early February,” Coughlan outlines in the Christmas edition of Williams’ digital magazine iGNITION.
“There has been a forensic look at what we’ve been doing wrong and where we need to improve – and we’ve come to the conclusion that some strategic errors were made in the past. We’ve identified the key elements we need to put in place, not just for next season but forever, to make a successful car every year. We need both performance and reliability, as those factors in unison are what win you races and championships, and we feel that we’re now moving in the right direction.
“I don’t think it’s just aerodynamics. I think we made some decisions where, effectively, we gambled on something which would have cost us performance from a vehicle dynamics point of view, but which would have been outweighed by the aerodynamics gain. That obviously didn’t pay off – had it done so we would have looked much better this season.”
With former Technical Director Sam Michael having switched to McLaren as Sporting Director, Coughlan has completely modified Williams’ approach.
“Jason Somerville has full responsibility for aerodynamic performance and he reports to me,” Coughlan explains. “In Jason’s case, he has a weekly target where he needs to show me that he’s found a certain number of points of downforce, and if it is missed then I look to find out how we can get that back on track.”
Williams is yet to win a race since Juan Pablo Montoya took victory in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix of 2004, with the team then powered by BMW engines; for 2012, it switches to a Renault-branded partnership for the first time since 1997. Pre-season testing will start in Spain on Tuesday 7 February.