Coughlan heads back to NASCAR with RCR

It has been a few months since Williams F1 sent technical director Mike Coughlan packing and perhaps the worst season in the team’s history is the reason why. Coughlan’s departure was a bit of a surprise as he had just joined the team earlier in the year and some would consider the 2013 chassis a car he inherited.

Coughlan was found to be a participating figure in the 2007 Spygate scandal that rocked the Formula 1 world, cost him his job at McLaren and saw the largest fine ever assessed on a team of $100 million.

With a CV boasting work at Williams F1, McLaren, Ferrari, Benetton, Arrows, Lotus and even the stillborn Stefan GP, it’s easy to see why many consider Coughlan a sharp mind in the business. However, Coughlan’s involvement in the spying scandal and early departure from Williams may have played a factor in his newest appointment in racing.

It was announced this week that Richard Childress Racing (RCR) has hired Coughlan with immediate effect. The NASCAR team looks to strengthen their development with RCR’s director of competition, Dr. Eric Warren, saying:

“I have known Mike Coughlan for many years and have a tremendous amount of respect for both his personal skills as an engineer and as a leader of people,” said Warren.

“He is a tremendous talent and has a rare combination of experience in leading teams and development programs in Formula 1, along with prior experience and exposure to NASCAR. To be successful in any form of racing, you have to push hard to find performance gains and his experience will strengthen RCR with regards to our competition.”

This isn’t the first foray into NASCAR for Coughlan as he was the director of vehicle design at Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) in 2010. Coughlan left the team for the Williams F1 opportunity in 2011 and was sued by MWR with the suit being settled out of court but it apparently involved Williams F1 in the settlement.

Coughlan’s career in Formula 1 has been up and down and his stay in NASCAR wasn’t long the first time round but time will tell if the Englishman will find the NASCAR world a more willing employer than the F1 paddock.

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