Williams hires Volkswagen rally car designer Demaison as technical director

2021 F1 season

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Recently-appointed Williams CEO Jost Capito has recruited one of his former Volkswagen Group colleagues to head up the F1 team’s technical department.

Francois-Xavier Demaison has joined Williams as its new technical director. During his time at Volkswagen Motorsport he designed the Polo R WRC which swept the World Rally Championship titles from 2013 to 2016.

Demaison, known as ‘FX’, was also responsible for Volkswagen’s radical ID.R which set the record lap times for an electric vehicle on the Nurburgring Nordschleife and Pikes Peak hillclimb.

Williams is seeking to turn around a slump in form which saw it fail to score a point during the 2020 F1 season, and finish last in the standings for the third year in a row. The nine-times constructors championship-winning outfit was sold by the founding Williams family to Dorilton last year, and Capito took over as CEO last month.

Radical ID.R broke multiple electric lap records
The team has since confirmed other changes in its technical department. It will cease building its own gearboxes and switch to Mercedes units from next season.

Capito has high hopes for the appointment of Demaison, his first major hiring since he took over. “I have seen his technical capabilities first-hand, and his sporting successes speak for themselves,” he said.

“Bringing in someone of his calibre to our already experienced technical team will help drive the future direction of our operation and strengthen our team. I have no doubt that his knowledge will contribute to us taking another important step towards our ambitions of winning again.

“At Williams we have an exciting challenge ahead of us, and I look forward to seeing ‘FX’ contribute as we continue on this journey.”

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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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8 comments on “Williams hires Volkswagen rally car designer Demaison as technical director”

  1. Is Williams slowly forming into a VW?

    Maybe not and I hope that they will keep the Williams name alive as long as they can

  2. So two former VW rally project persons. I wonder who’s next? Sven Smeets, Sebastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala, or Andreas Mikkelsen?

  3. Nice! More VW guys in F1.
    Hopefully this is good sign in terms of a potential F1 engagement of VW (most likely as Porsche).

  4. Oh nice, enter Porsche engine.

  5. Porsche (or Lamborghini) entering F1 step by step. Running F1 operations and chassis development takes time to learn. They can do that under Williams name.

    That’s just a theory, of course, but add the number of times VW name surfaced recently, plus former employees joining in and you might believe there’s something coming.

    Russell may be well placed after all.

    1. Only Facts!, I wouldn’t read all that much into it, as rumours about a VW Group entry into F1 have been supposedly imminent for years, but it’s never come to anything more than idle speculation.

      Yes, there has been a bit of speculation after their comments around the possible 2025 engine regulations, but that looked rather more like a way of easily getting their name into the headlines. Rumours have always abounded about a possible VW Group entry – you can easily find rumours from 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2017 about supposed imminent bids by the VW Group to enter F1, and every time those rumours soon petered out into nothing.

      I also wouldn’t read a lot into two former VW Group employees joining F1 – there have been a number of less senior engineers switching back and forth between sportscar racing and F1, including the Audi and Porsche works LMP teams, in the past, which really just says more about what transferable skills they have than anything about their parent teams.

  6. Very encouraging steps at Williams. I thought they were gone forever.

  7. Interesting historical coincidence here: Sir Frank’s first own-build F1 car was designated the FX3. It was officially the Politoys FX3, later the Iso-Marlboro FX3B and sometimes it gets referred to as the Williams FX3, but the letters in the type number were always FX.

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