F1 Winter Break
Symonds joins Williams as chief technical officer while Coughlan leaves team
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Jul 2013   |  4:27 pm GMT  |  80 comments

Pat Symonds has joined Williams as chief technical officer and will start work with the Grove-based team next month.

The 60-year-old received a ban from the sport for his role in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix crash-gate scandal while working for Renault.

He returned with Marussia in 2011 as a technical consultant under the terms of the ban which expires this year and will start work with Williams, who have yet to score a point this season in nine races, on August 19.

Williams also announced that current technical director Mike Coughlan has left the team with immediate effect.

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 1.

“Sir Frank, [chief executive] Mike [O’Driscoll] and [deputy team principal] Claire [Williams] have put in place the foundations for success and I’m immensely excited to begin this new challenge.”

Team principal Sir Frank Williams added: “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.”

Williams group chief executive officer Mike O’Driscoll said: “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.”

Marussia said they would announce plans “for the continued development of its growing technical operation in due course”.

Marussia team principal John Booth added: “We have some very talented design and engineering groups in place who have achieved great things over the past few seasons and who are excited about maintaining our current positive trajectory, boosted of course by our new powertrain partnership with Ferrari.

“We would like to thank Pat for the contribution he has made to the development of that structure. We look forward to announcing plans for our continued growth when it is appropriate to do so.”

Symonds has worked in Formula 1 for 30 years, building a great reputation as an engineer. He worked with Ayrton Senna at Toleman in 1984 and then Michael Schumacher at Benetton during which time the team won two drivers’ titles and one constructors’ title.

Two more drivers’ titles and two constructors’ titles followed when he moved to Renault, working with Fernando Alonso.

Of Coughlan’s departure, Williams said in a statement: “The team thanks him for the significant contribution he has made since 2011 and wishes him well in his future endeavours.”

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

About sums up F1 nowadays.

One cheat replaces another, I have also heard, not overheard, the new boy calling 2 well respected, now retired drivers 2 of the biggest w****** to ever sit in an F1 car.

Not really very sure why I am still interested, I suppose I keep hoping that someone will finally come along to tidy it all up, vain desire I suspect.


Wow, sorry you feel that way James. I would never say anything on here that could bring the site into disrepute. But considering some have eluded to the same thing without actually coming out and saying so I’m surprised you/the team feel that way.

It almost makes me feel as though I mentioned that relative no one should or dares to mention…. Sorry


I can assure you I have not “eluded” to what you were suggesting in your post


No James you miss understand I’m not suggesting you or your team have suggested anything you’re too close to the sport and too much of a pro.

I was talking about deancassidy’s post further up. Anyway apologise I’ll pick my words with more sneakeness next time.

Still think he’s guilty though……. ;!


Is my email wrong or something could have sworn I contributed to this thread last night. Waist ignored for a reason?


Yes. It was libellous and inflammatory


A good technical director has to be a good engineer but also a good leader.

While Coughlan is a good engineer (no question!) looking at the trial-and-error approach pursued in the development of this years car you cant help but think that it was Gillan who provided leadership and direction on the technical side.

With Symonds I’m less convinced in his engineering talent as he spent many years as race engineer, away from the now dominant aerodynamics and the ups and downs of the enstone squad seem more related to the talent of Gascoyne, Bell, and Allison. However, he should (by now, anyway) be able to provide the direction Williams so desperately needs.

As for engineering talent don’t forget that they have Jason Somerville as head of aerodynamics since 2011, who, while keeping a lower profile has an excellent record: He designed aerodynamically strong Toyotas (weak engine) and founded the new born success of Lotus (enstone). Somervile and Symonds complement each other and might just be able to do something for Williams. So I’ll overall call this a good move.


Pat is awesome… I’m sure it was Alonso and Flav that were pushing for the [mod]

Always enjoyed Pat’s interviews.

If McLaren were not busy committing suicide with Whitmarsh and Button, they would have done well to bring Pat on board… he could have at leased pushed them to bring in one top 10 driver…


Problem is that williams needs fresh minds with new ideas. Both

Coughlan and symonds are has beens who got caught cheating. But I hope it works out as williams have been my favorite team for 20 years.


Shameful. The guy conspired to fix a race. Great way for Claire Williams to begin her tenure as chief! Why doesn’t Williams hire Nigel Stepney, Flavio and Lance Armstrong, too? As others have said, it seems like a desparate act by a team with a bleak future.


I’m as uncomfortable about Symonds appointment (and Coughlan previously) as I am about athletes guilty of doping being allowed to compete again.

It sets a terrible precident, cycling is still reeling from its past mistakes of not getting to grips with the doping issue. The problem F1 has is that if these two [mod] seemingly get away with it, it encourages more people to push the boundaries.

Arguably Symonds involvment in crashgate is one of the most dangerous acts of cheating committed in any sport.


Interesting. I swear I remember reading a quote from Adrian Newey at the time of Mike Coughlan getting the job at Williams, saying he thought it an “interesting”/odd choice, and seemed to imply he didn’t think he was the right type for such a role.


That could even make sense. For the 2003 to 2006 McLarens Newey has worked together with Coughlan and Prodromou, and when he moved to Red Bull, he got Prodromou to follow him one year later, but not Coughlan. Might be a coincidence, but might also be based on not making an “interesting” choice.


Excellent. Good to see Pat back. Heaven’s above, Williams needs an experienced leader at the moment. Pat fits the bill.


Great news. Unlike a lot of people on this page, I am thrilled with the fact that Williams was able to snap up someone of the calibre of Pat Symonds.

I always felt the all the hoo-hah with regards to the Crashgate scandal was a bit out of proportions.

The blur surrounding this case, be it witness X or Max Mosley’s personal vendetta on Flavio Briatore tainted both Briatore and Symonds personal success to date more than it should have.

Crashing deliberately into another driver gets you black flagged. Crashing your own driver into the wall so that the other one has a shot at victory was very clever as far as I am concerned, and did not deserved the witch-hunt that followed. Other will disagree with me, and I’m fine with it.

Coughlan, Gillan and Sommerville did a great job last year with the FW34, returning Williams F1 to the winner’s circle at the Spanish Grand Prix.

It might be a bit late to turn around the team’s fortune for the remainder of the season, however, Symonds input should start to be felt in 2014.

Douglas Revill

Great news for Williams. Here is a man who can help to bring them to the front of the grid. 2014 and beyond is looking good.

Here is a sport that pushes and exceeds the boundaries of what is legal all the time. Aren’t we getting a bit high and mighty to single one man out? Good on you Pat – I for one am excited to see you back running the technical side of a team, and can’t wait to see the results over the next few years!


this is the best move williams has made since they asked [mod] patrick head to stay away. anyone who goes to all lengths to copy the opposition can’t be that good or confident of their abilities. replay him with simmons is a royal move. by 2015 williams will be back scoring points as consistantly as they did in partnership with bmw. now they need a fresh set of first class graduates from the likes of imperial college under simmons’ wings and the fruits will all ripe at once.


Big deal.. He’s done his time, let him make up for it. I really hope he turns the Williams team around. F1 needs them to be successful again.

As for cheating and all that. There have been plenty of cheats who got away with their schemes, sometimes quite successfully.

Move on people. It’s F1, they’re not saving humanity here…


Intersting also that Renault power is in the Williams cars while Pat is there in 2013. But of course, not for long.


No coincidence that Mclaren have slumped since Sam Michael joined – just do not rate the bloke at all, exactly what has he ever achieved in F1? Best of luck to Williams, Symonds has pedigree and could just well be what Williams need in these tough times.


Williams really believes that they can succeed by hiring 2 masterminds of the biggest F1 scandals in decades?

Irony…I really wish Willians well….but bad tree cannot have good fruits


Williams replace their Spygate-implicated technical director with a Crashgate-implicated chief technical officer … We are waiting for Briatore return

Tornillo Amarillo

How is Williams Human Resources checking the résumés? Is it not important in F1 having an immaculate Curriculum Vitae, at least to drag sponsors, good publicity, etc.?

Because if you take bad decisions in one field of your company, probably you get bad results overall.

“The consequences of our actions take hold of us, quite indifferent to our claim that meanwhile we have ‘improved.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil


Small correction, he did not “move” to Renault, Benetton became Renault, Pat stayed put. In fact, his 2 years with Marussia are the first that he’s ever worked with away from Team Enstone.



Do you have any info on Mike Coughlan’s departure? Something seems fishy.


Coughlan shouldn’t be too despondent. There will surely be a space at Mercedes for him.


Great news for Williams! While it will be controversial, Pat Symonds knows what it takes to win and his roles with Bennetton and Renault demonstrate his winning credentials. He should fit in well with Williams’ no nonsense approach to racing. I really hope that Pat can help the team get back to the front of the grid.


Maybe third time lucky after Sam Michael then Mike Coughlan.

Having been banned for five years and having his reputation, quite correctly tore to shreds it is time I feel to move on. Additional penalty it seems is the fact that a job at a leading top 5 or 6 team does not seem out there.

This a good move by Williams and lets hope it proves a success .


I’m not convinced yet. For one thing, Sam Michael seemed to be too inexperienced and got too much weight on his shoulders, but without him it got even worse. Coughlan went through many teams, but I have a hard time linking any team’s success to him, as it always seemed that other people, like Newey, had more significance.

Pat Symonds has worked most of his time in Enstone with the Benetton/Renault/Lotus-Team, and while it went through good and bad phases other people like Gascoyne, Bell and Allison seemed to have a bigger impact on the team’s performance, just like with Coughlan.

So unless something convinces me of the opposite, I’d like to state, as a bartender would say, that Williams have been trading an apple for an apple, while being in need of a pear.


James, did coughlan leave on his accord or was he sacked?


Sacked most likely.

If he left of his own accord he likely would have, in my opinion, been rewarded with the opportunity to announce his departure himself.

The short, brusque, statement by Williams doesn’t make it look any better.




Does anyone knows what current price are

the Williwms shares?.

I fear the end not to far away,sad as once

a mighty with the success a very few can

boast about it.

Very sad indeed.



Wouldn’t be too negative as it was just last year they had a decent car at the start of the season anyway.


Symonds can have little impact on next year’s car at this late date. I hope I’m wrong, but this move smacks of despair, of flailing about in deep water, trying to avoid going down for the third time.

The last time the team was consistently competitive was 10 years ago, during the BMW period. And Williams hasn’t produced a champion, and anything like a dominant car, since the 1990s: As I have said before, and it is sad, Williams has become Tyrrell: A once great team with an iconic leader, now become a nostalgia piece – rose-colored glasses for those who pine for “the way it used to be.”


I disagree about potential impact on next year’s car. yes, there is a long planning and development cycle, but experience like his makes a difference at every step along the way to delivery of the machinery.

There is ample oppotunity for PS to favourably impact the development of the 2014 Williams car.

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