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Williams' Michael to join McLaren in 2012

ESPNF1 Staff
September 13, 2011 « Perez set for Ferrari test this week | »
Sam Michael has been at Williams since 2001 © Getty Images

Outgoing Williams technical director Sam Michael will join McLaren as sporting director in 2012, the team confirmed on Tuesday.

Michael is currently working as Williams' technical director, but after the worst start to a season in the team's history he will stand down at the Singapore Grand Prix. He had dropped hints that he would remain in F1 and McLaren has now confirmed that he will be heading up its trackside operations in 2012.

"I'm extremely excited to be joining Vodafone McLaren Mercedes," Michael said. "Being a racer my whole life, I know that McLaren is one of the all-time greats of Formula One. I already know and respect many of the team's senior technical management figures, and becoming a member of that excellent working unit was one of the prime attractions of this new position.

"Equally, for some time I've closely observed and greatly admired both Lewis [Hamilton] and Jenson [Button] as grade-one drivers, and therefore regard it as an enormous privilege to be able to work with both of them.

"I've spent 11 seasons with WilliamsF1, have many fond memories, and truly wish them all the best. In the near future, however, I will become 100% focused on Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and will be aiming to ensure that the team's famous rocket-red victory T-shirts will be seen many times over the coming years."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said Michael would add to the team's breadth of technical expertise.

"Speaking on behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I'm very pleased to welcome Sam as an important senior addition to our race team," he added. "He'll bring a very valuable blend of experience and expertise to our pitwall, and will also enrich the technical management we provide for our drivers. I'm certain he'll work extremely well with our senior technical management team, which I firmly believe will now become the strongest in all of Formula One."

Michael started his F1 career at Team Lotus in 1993 before moving to Jordan in 1995. He joined Williams in 2001 and by 2004 was appointed technical director. Sir Frank Williams said he was delighted to see Michael stay in F1 and thanked him for helping with the introduction of Williams' new technical staff, which includes ex-McLaren employee Mike Coughlan.

"I am delighted that Sam has found a new role that will enable him to continue to apply his energy, passion and experience to Formula One," Williams said. "On behalf of everyone at Williams I wish him a successful move to his new team. "I would also like to thank Sam for his help in enabling a swift and smooth transition to our new technical leadership. Mike Coughlan and Jason Somerville are settling in very well and the restructuring will be complete when Mark Gillan joins us as Chief Operations Engineer on 19 September."