Roughly four months after leaving his post at the Williams Formula One team, Mike Coughlan has been announced as the new technical director for NASCAR’s Richard Childress Racing effectively immediately.
“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 RCR director of competition Dr. Eric Warren in a statement.
“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.”
For Coughlan, it marks a second tour of duty in America’s most popular form of motorsport. Coughlan became the director of vehicle design for Michael Waltrip Racing in the fall of 2010 but later left the team for Williams in 2011, which triggered a lawsuit from MWR against Coughlan and Williams; the suit was eventually settled.
In his own statement, Coughlan noted that “the increased technical focus” of the Sprint Cup Series made RCR a perfect fit for him.
“This is one of the great teams in NASCAR and their commitment to winning is second-to-none…I look forward to helping Eric Warren, and the rest of the team, in bringing more success to the organization through the next few years,” he said.
Coughlan has extensive F1 experience, having worked in various engineering and design capacities for squads such as Lotus, Benetton, Ferrari, Arrows and McLaren. But many F1 followers also know him as one of the key figures in the 2007 espionage scandal that cost him his job as McLaren’s chief designer.
He was found to have been in possession of technical documents that belonged to Ferrari, and the fallout from the scandal included a fine of 50 million pounds against McLaren and the stripping of all of its points in the 2007 constructors’ championship.
Coughlan himself was banned from F1 for two years. Upon returning to the series in 2011 with Williams, he apologized for his role in the controversy.