Outgoing Williams technical director Sam Michael says he is determined to turn around the team's form before he makes way for Mike Coughlan at the end of year.
Williams announced on Tuesday that Michael, along with chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson, would leave the team at the end of 2011, although AUTOSPORT reports he actually tendered his resignation after the Malaysian Grand Prix, where Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado both retired before half-distance.
In spite of his decision to move on for 2011, Michael says he believes the FW33 is still on the verge of becoming a competitive package this year and that new upgrades intended for the opening races of the European season should unlock its potential.
"I don't think the team is far away from being respectable with the car, to exploit the areas of design that we really innovated on like our transmission," Michael, who will continue to travel with the team to races this year, told AUTOSPORT. "It will only take some small steps to make the FW33 competitive and we have a raft of upgrades to the car over the next three or four races to make that happen.
"We are far from short of ideas or new concepts, and recent progress in development is strong – that's what gives me the confidence that if we can get it to the track quickly, then we'll be competitive. We've done our KERS on a shoestring compared to other teams and it's caused no problems in racing at all.
"However, we had a lot of downtime in winter testing. Producing the smallest transmission has stretched our group resources too far, but we needed to take a quantum step from where our previous transmission was. That will pay off next year as we plan to introduce the 2012 transmission during 2011 so it's fully signed off in races before the end of the year. That work, and having a stable KERS platform, will help Williams enormously over this coming winter," he added.
Michael also revealed that Frank Williams and Adam Parr had asked him to stay on with the team beyond 2011 in a different position, but that he had felt the time was right to explore new challenges in Formula 1.
"In any position, in any company, there will always be things that are not perfect or you consider out of your direct control. However, when you accept a job you accept all of those conditions," he said. "I was offered a new senior role within the company by Adam and Frank, however I declined because I felt it wouldn't have been fair on any incoming senior engineers.
"They need a free hand to be able to decide what is right and what is wrong with the department. That can be done a lot easier with a fresh approach if current senior engineers are not in the background. I also felt it was time to move on. I remain employed and fully committed to Williams until the end of 2011. During that time I will focus on the 2011 car development, race attendance and helping any new engineers transition into their new roles.
"I'm still actually fully involved with all the 2012 and 2013 car programs, as is Jon Tomlinson, because right now there is no one else to do that. However, I expect that work to shift as new engineers arrive. It's in everyone's interest for us to work on 2011 and new engineers to work on future years"
Michael, who joined Williams 10 years ago after a four-year spell at Jordan, added that he was proud of his time with the team, which claimed 10 victories while he was senior operations director and then technical director (from 2004 onward), but that he fully intended to continue working in F1 next year.
"I'm quite philosophical about the change now because I'm determined to finish here professionally and with respectable car performance – that is what matters to me right now," he said. "And I say that because I have a lot of admiration for all the fantastic people who work so hard here. I'm not disappointed about my time at Williams at all, in fact the opposite. But I'm also ready for the next challenge now.
"Of course, everyone has emotions but, as I resigned three weeks ago, I've already done that bit! I love F1 and racing is my life, so I'm looking forward and I'll be here for the long term."