LONDON, England, May 3 – Mike Coughlan, who was the centre of the 'spygate' scandal that rocked Formula One back in 2007, returned to Grans Prix racing on Tuesday after being appointed chief engineer of the Williams team.
Coughlan was working for Williams’s British rivals McLaren when he was suspended from the sport for two years after being found to be in possession of confidential documents belonging to F1 giants Ferrari.
But with Williams struggling for points this season, team principal Frank Williams defended his decision to hire Coughlan by saying: "Mike is a fine engineer with extensive experience across Formula One and both civil and defence engineering.
"He left Formula One in 2007 because of conduct which he acknowledges was wrong and which he profoundly regrets.
"His two-year ban from the sport expired some time ago and Mike is now determined to prove himself again.
"Williams is delighted to be able to give him the opportunity to do this and we are very pleased to have one of the most talented and competitive engineers in the sport helping us to return to the front of the grid.
"This is the first step in rebuilding and strengthening our technical group. We will announce the next steps as they develop."
Coughlan, who during his ban from Formula One worked for NASCAR team Michael Waltrip Racing, said: "I am grateful to Williams for giving me this opportunity.
"My experience in 2007 was life-changing. Now, I am looking forward to returning to a sport which I love and to joining a team I have admired for many years.
"I will dedicate myself to the team and to ensuring we return to competitiveness, while respecting the ethical standards with which Williams has always been synonymous."
Coughlan’s appointment came on the same day that Williams’s technical director, Sam Michael, and chief aerodynamicist, Jon Tomlinson, both announced resignations that will take effect at the end of the year.
Williams have not won a Grand Prix since 2004 and have yet to score a point this season after three races.