Sam Michael's decision to leave Williams at the end of the year is a blow to the team, says Chairman Adam Parr.
After Williams' worst-ever start to a Formula 1 season, the team has announced a future restructuring of its technical department in a bid to turn around its fortunes. It has signed Mike Coughlan as its new chief engineer, while technical director Sam Michael and chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson will leave at the end of the year to open the way for a wider staffing overhaul.
Parr says that the loss of Michael is a disappointment, though, especially since he had forged such a good relationship with the Australian.
"Obviously, the start to the season we've had has been unacceptable – and not merely because the performance was poor but because we were not expecting it at that level," explained Parr. "Sam and I have been talking through the situation from the beginning of the season and he came to the conclusion that he should stand down at the end of the year to give the team the opportunity to rebuild, renew itself and set the right technical direction for the future.
"With some reluctance I accepted his resignation, and that is because I am very fond of Sam. We have worked together for five years and I was looking forward to working alongside him for a long time in the future. So it has been a blow personally, and for the team, to lose him."
Parr said that even if Michael helped turn around the performance of the car dramatically over the next few months, he did not think it likely that there would be any change to the plans for him to leave.
"I think that the path is set," explained Parr. "I think it would create too much uncertainty if we chopped and changed.
"If you look at last year, we did start the season poorly and we recovered pretty well, so I am expecting we will do that this year. But the fact is that what we didn't do was build on a strong start. That is a cycle that we must break now, and we need a fresh approach."