Symonds replaces ousted Coughlan at Williams

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Pat Symonds will join Williams next month to replace technical director Mike Coughlan, who has left the team with immediately effect.

Symonds leaves his position as technical consultant at Marussia where he had been since 2011.

Williams have endured a troubled start to 2013 and are yet to score any points after nine races with the FW35. At this point last year they had 47 on the board, had won the Spanish Grand Prix and were seventh in the championship.

Williams founder Sir Frank Williams said welcomed Symonds’ impending arrival, saying: “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.”

Symonds said: “Williams is a team steeped in success and engineering excellence and I’m honored to be asked to play a role in returning the team to its rightful place at the pinnacle of Formula One. Sir Frank, Mike [O’Driscoll, group CEO] and Claire [Williams, deputy team principal] have put in place the foundations for success and I’m immensely excited to begin this new challenge.”

Of his former team Symonds added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Marussia F1 Team over the course of the past two and a half seasons.”

“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.”

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”