The struggling Williams team has appointed co-founder Patrick Head as a consultant to assist its engineering department.
Head, 72, founded the team with Frank Williams in 1977 and played a key role in spearheading its car design department. In that role he helped guide the team’s success in the 1980s and 1990s, when it claimed all of its seven drivers’ and nine constructors’ championship trophies — only Ferrari has won more of the latter.
Head stepped away from an active role with the team in 2011. His return was confirmed by the team in a story on the official F1 website on Friday.
Recent times have been less kind to the Grove team and after finishing bottom last year it looks set for another difficult campaign having missed the start of preseason. That delay prompted the team to place technical chief Paddy Lowe on leave ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
Drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica are encouraged by the appointment.
“I think it’ll be great honestly,” Russell said after Friday practice in Bahrain. “He’s only coming in on a support role, it’s not anything full time, but with his presence he’s a very strong character with a lot of personality and it’s maybe what we need at the moment. I think for all of his experience and history he has at Williams just having him around will lift everyone.”
Kubica added: “Patrick has the experience, everybody respects him a lot, he has done an enormous job in the past for this team. I think there is massive respect from him in the team.”
In Australia, Russell and Kubica admitted Williams’ 2019 car has a fundamental design flaw which could take months to fix properly. The car was considerably off the pace of its rivals in Australia and that looks set to be the case again in Bahrain this weekend.
As well as the vacancy created by Lowe’s period of absence, Williams is yet to replace their departed head of vehicle performance, Rob Smedley, who left at the end of 2018, or chief designer, Ed Wood, who left in May 2018. The day-to-day running of the team is now conducted by Claire Williams, the daughter of founder Frank.