The Williams F1 team may have raised a few eyebrows by looking outside of the sport to appoint a new technical director, with the announcement that Francois-Xavier Demaison is to take on the role.
Mr Demaison, commonly known by his initials FX, joins after a decade with Volkswagen Motorsport and his appointment marks a clear departure by the team from the norm, as it seeks a magic formula to become a competitive outfit again.
Although his past involvement in Formula 1 is limited to a stint working on Peugeot’s engine programme, his knowledge of precision engineering and design has persuaded his former colleague at Volkswagen Jost Capito, who became Williams chief last year, that he is the man to revive the fortunes of the team.
“We are delighted to welcome FX to the team. I have seen his technical capabilities first-hand, and his sporting successes speak for themselves,” Mr Capito said.
Demaison remarked: “I am really looking forward to joining Williams Racing, as they begin an exciting journey to turn their performance around.”
He acknowledged that it will be a “great challenge” to take the team back to the top, but it is one the Frenchman is “eager to start”.
Demaison certainly knows how to produce a successful car, with his technical expertise helping Volkswagen win four successive World Rally Championships from 2013 to 2016 in the Polo R WRC model. He will hope he can now emulate this success with Williams.
Jost Capito’s rationale in waiting a year to replace Paddy Lowe as technical director and going for Demaison is that the right man for the future will be someone who can help co-ordinate a wider technical team as the sport gears up for a raft of major technical rule changes for 2022.
Williams entered F1 in 1978, securing nine constructors’ championships in its glory days of the late 20th century, when drivers like Alan Jones, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve won the drivers’ championship.
The 21st century has brought a serious decline from those halcyon days, with the team finishing last in 2018.