Williams stalwart Patrick Head, one of the Formula 1 paddock's best known figures, has decided to move away from the sport after the end of the 2011 campaign.
Head, who has been with the team since its formation in 1977, will end his F1 involvement this winter when he switches from his current role as director of engineering to assume responsibilities with the company's booming hybrid business. His decision, which follows a restructuring that was forced upon Williams by its worst-ever F1 campaign, means that Head will not travel to races anymore in an official capacity.
Although there had been rumors over the past 12 months that Head was pondering retirement, the 65-year-old insists he is committed to continuing with the company but in a role that will take him away from F1 responsibilities.
"Certainly it is not the word retirement, but I am not going to be directly part of the Williams F1 program next year," said Head. "I am going to be doing some work for Williams Hybrid Power, which may sound a bit dry and dull but it is actually quite high tech and quite interesting. While most motorsport activities are quite interesting, for the company, it is buses and intercity railways and that is where the commercial side shall be."
Head admitted some regret that his decision to leave F1 had come after such a disappointing campaign, where Williams scored just five points – 36 points less than the team in front.
"I certainly did not have an ambition to end my involvement in F1 with the season I have just had behind us," he said. "But when I have a look at what specifically I can do to assist Mike Coughlan, and Mark Gillan and Jason Somerville, I came to the conclusion that it isn't enough for me to carry on justifying doing the same thing.
"It is not interesting for me; it is not good for the company. I decided to have a change of focus now."
Head believes that with the restructuring that has taken place this year, Williams has the opportunity to turn around its disappointing campaign in F1, although he is not expecting a dramatic upturn in form.
"I certainly think those three people [Coughlan, Gillan, Somerville] are good, and I am quite certain that they will lift the capability of the company upward, but we have fallen to quite a poor level with quite a long way to go," he said. "It is not going to happen over a one-year cycle."