Despite being halfway into the 2013 campaign, Williams are one of three teams to be without a point so far this season. The FW35 has significantly under-performed so far as the team have failed to match the lofty expectations set on the back of a race winning 2012. Consequently, it is unsurprising that the team has announced changes of key personnel this morning, as veteran Technical Director Pat Symonds has replaced Mike Coughlan.
It was a whirlwind morning at Grove with this fast moving news story. Firstly, the announcement came that Mike Coughlan, the team’s Technical Director since 2011, was to leave his post with immediate effect. Meanwhile, Marussia announced that Pat Symonds would be leaving his consultant role at the team. Consequently, many people began to surmise that the two events could not merely be coincidence. Just a few minutes later, Williams declared that Pat Symonds would take over the vacant Technical Officer role from the 19th August.
Pat Symonds’ F1 career has been one of epic highs and indescribable lows. Symonds was part of the Benetton team which saw Micheal Schumacher take two consecutive World Championship’s in 1994 and 1995. He maintained his role within the team, despite their struggles in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Pat was rewarded for his loyalty when he was able to oversee Fernando Alonso’s back to back titles in 2005 and 2006 following the Renault take-over in 2002. However, Pat was at the center of Renault’s 2008 controversy, where Flavio Briatore, (Team Principal at the time), forced Nelson Piquet Jr to crash in order to gift Fernando Alonso the victory. Following the court case, Symonds disappeared from Formula One, until he returned in 2011 in a new role as Marussia consultant.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Marussia F1 Team over the course of the past two-and-a-half seasons,” Symonds said. “The team has developed immeasurably during that time and it now has all the right people and resources in place to achieve great things in the future. I wish the team the success it so richly deserves.” He will undoubtedly be missed by Marussia. The excellent news regarding the Ferrari deal will be undermined by the set back which Symonds’ departure inevitably is. His affect on the team has been clearly noticeable, as they have significantly closed the gap to fierce rivals Caterham during his spell at the team.
Meanwhile, Williams will be ecstatic at the arrival of Symonds, who has the capabilities of guiding the team to recovery. Perhaps not this season, but certainly in 2014, as he will be able to input his ideas onto the car which is still heavily in development. “I’m delighted that Pat is joining the team,” Sir Frank Williams said. “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.”
Regarding his latest venture, an excited 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 One. Sir Frank, Mike and Claire have put in place the foundations for success and I’m immensely excited to begin this new challenge.”
The Technical Officer role at Williams is possibly one of the most challenging roles within the sport at the moment. The team are looking to return to the pinnacle of the sport, yet are struggling to develop quickly enough due to a lack of influential personnel. Hopefully Pat can steer Williams back from their position of despair. Surly, this is Symonds’ toughest job yet.