Sam Michael, Williams, 2011

Sam Michael and Jon Tomlinson to leave Williams at end of 2011

2011 F1 season

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Sam Michael, Williams, 2011
Sam Michael, Williams, 2011

Williams have announced technical director Sam Michael and chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson have resigned.

The pair will leave at the end of the year following the team’s poor start to the season. Williams are yet to score a point after three races.

The team issued the following statement

“Williams F1 today announced that technical director, Sam Michael, and chief aerodynamicist, Jon Tomlinson, have resigned from their positions within the company, to take effect at the end of 2011.

Frank Williams, Team Principal, said: ‘Both Sam and Jon are talented and driven people who have worked hard for Williams over 10 and five years respectively.

‘Nonetheless, they have recognised that the team?s performance is not at the level that it needs to be and have resigned in order to give the team the opportunity to regroup and undertake the changes necessary to get back to the front of the grid.

‘Both will continue to work in their present positions through until the end of the year to ensure that the team maintains focus and momentum during the 2011 season. We are very grateful to Sam and to Jon for their professional approach.'”

Williams have also announced that Mike Coughlan will join them next month: Mike Coughlan returns to F1 with Williams

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Image ?? Williams/LAT

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Sam Michael and Jon Tomlinson to leave Williams at end of 2011”

  1. thatscienceguy
    3rd May 2011, 10:54

    Will be very interesting to see if they poach people from other teams. I think they need to, they can’t promote internally, they need some fresh perspectives and ideas.

    Will be interesting to see how this all pans out methinks. Could be a tame silly-season for drivers but a cracking silly-season for engineers.

    1. thatscienceguy
      3rd May 2011, 10:57

      oh, and as a ife-long Williams fan I say good. I’m not going to try to claim these guys are responsible, but everyone knows the team isn’t where it should be. The engineering department needs a serious shake up, and new people in senior engineer positions is exactly what is required.

  2. Apparently Mike Coughlan will join Williams as these two leave. Williams have gone way down in my estimation for that – perhaps they’ll invite Nigel Stepney and Nelson Piquet to join him?

    1. That got me thinking this was a joke first, before it dawned on me they were serious.
      Interestingly McLaren always downplayed Coughlans role in their desing team. Not impressed for now.

      Williams certainly needs to get their whole design team overhauled, the lacking chassis was one of the reasons for their fall out with BMW.
      Certainly not a good time for Patrick Head
      to wind down his involvement completely, is it. Or maybe just for not wanting to have anything to do with it any more?

    2. They’ll need Alonso as well and de la Rosa as a test driver or it will all come to nothing ;)

      All jokes aside, it’s not like we’re dealing with a House-like genius here. If you’re going to be controversial, you’d better be bloody good too. Coughlan…probably not.

      1. He doesn’t have to be a Newey, he just has do do it a bit faster than Sam.

    3. Coughlan did the crime, then did the time- slate’s clean. Maybe we should cut him some slack.

      1. McLarenFanJamm
        3rd May 2011, 12:12

        Once a cheat, always a cheat.

        Whether he has done the time or not, he’ll always have the black mark against his reputation. Which wasn’t particularly high anyway.

        1. Whose black mark? Like Kenny said, the slate is clean.

        2. I don’t think F1 can be though of like that.

          It’s fast moving, and some fans would love to see Newey banned for what they see as ‘illegal flexi wings’ even if they’re not. Every team is striving for the advantage, and Coughlan stepped over the line. He’s been punished for it, and now’s back in the game.

          I personally don’t see anything wrong with that – who would a lifelong ban be serving? The real ones cheated would be the teams and fans.

          1. Johann Buys
            3rd May 2011, 21:14

            IMHO, he got caught. Many did much more serious thing but got away with it. Their reputations are clean, not because they are choir boys but because they were never caught. Sometimes we are more gullible than what we need to be.

      2. I agree.

        We’ve all done things wrong, he served the penalty and now should have another crack.

        What was he doing during the ban?

      3. Yes, let’s see, he can be good despite spygate.

    4. Dave Ryan too? :P

  3. Williams is a team that should be up at the front of the grid, but has lost its way. I just hope that they can get back up there.

    Keith, maybe an article on who could potentially replace Sam and Jon would be quite interesting..??

  4. Coughlan is definetly joining the team according to Autosport. I suppose he has done his time with regard to a ban, i hope that he will be able to get williams further up the rankings where they belong

    1. Yeah but I am not sure this sounds all to good

      Williams said: “Mike Coughlan is a fine engineer with extensive experience across Formula One and both civil and defence engineering.

      taking in account some of the sources for his experience in the past!

  5. Sadly I can only see Williams eventually going the way of Lotus (you know what I mean) and Tyrrell without a manufacturer partnership or somehow stumbling over the next Byrne or Newey. Maybe they’ll get back up to the level of Sauber but even with new staff it’s hard to get back to the very front. Good to see they are halting the rot though, next step driver line-up.

    1. Jordan might also be a good comparison.

    2. Good to see they are halting the rot though, next step driver line-up.

      You should have included that in your earlier post.

      Before MSC Ferrari went how many years with out a WDC, Macca has one since Mika, but before that, it was again how many years?

      I see your point though, and the real question is really what’s been up with Williams management some odd years? Williams had it all and ****** it away.

      Go Figure?

      1. Thanks mods ;)

  6. Williams have already enlisted Mike Coughlan as a replacement, though it remains to be seen if he can turn things around for this beleaguered team.

  7. Sam Michael to Lotus, Tomlinson to Virgin.

  8. Sad end for Sam but he was perhaps promoted too early at 31 and maybe Patrick Head should’ve remained more hands on, at least initially.

    Of course what they should really have done is allowed Newey full reign. From what ive read ( perhaps here) Newwey never wanted to leave Williams, like he did Mclaren, he just wanted a bigger role.. A titantic error, in hindsight.

    Still a schoolboy favourite of mine but i dont indulge in such frivolity anymore.. as FW might put it himself.

    1. My recollection was that Newey wanted shares in the team, but Frank and Patrick refused. As you say, in hindsight, a huge error.

      1. Well, he can buy some shares now. Cheap.

      2. Historically, I’ve never understood the why Williams were always so tight with the money. It really boggles the mind, considering the success they’ve had.

      3. Nope, sorry Tim, not quite right. He was offered a significant amount of shares by Frank, the deal was all but signed. It was only when Newey was told he was to report to Sam Michael that he pulled out of the deal.

  9. If Michael is going, does that mean the party line of “our new car will have an aggressive design” is going, too?

  10. I hope so PM.

  11. The team says that the pair have resigned.. should we interpret ‘have resigned’ as ‘were pushed out’?

    1. Judging by what Frank Williams has said, yes.

  12. I am waiting who is the first to pick up Sam Michael for their team for 2012.

  13. hay if Coughlan comes on board then a whole new advertising stream opens up for Williams….Xerox, Canon, no win no fee solicitors etc…

    1. Please be Canon, PLEASE BE CANON! :)

  14. This will be interesting to watch. Maybe the new techinical director can focus on next years car, meaning an early start, hopefully meaning a good Williams car at last!

    1. Early starts only work if there are drastic regulation changes.

      1. Or if your car is a bit of a dog (F60 anyone?), so it might be a good idea.

  15. I was expecting a shake-up at Williams but this is pretty heavy stuff. Sam Michael struck me as a bit sheepish when unveiling the FW33, a bit lost in it all.

    Should be an interesting 12 months.

  16. Interesting developments at Williams. Needed though.

    Have to hope that Williams can attract a big name designer to replace their team.

    Also, don’t expect Michael or Tomlinson to appear at an F1 team for the beginning of next year. Wouldn’t surprise me if their contracts prevent them from joining another team for at least a year [assuming of course that they have resigned rather than were pushed..!]

    1. Williams could get a few Ferrari guys when the Italian team randomly wields the axe after the underperforming (so far) F150^ Italia.

  17. What will they do if the team turns competitve mid-season?

    1. That won’t happen while Sam Michael is still around – he’s been a disaster for the team and is not popular amongst the engineering team at the factory. Things will only really improve once he’s gone.

  18. it is illogical to think that they will improve at the drop of a hat as they have been struggling for five seasons straight now

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