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Formula 1

Williams hires ex-VW WRC man Demaison as technical director

by Edd Straw
3 min read

The Williams Formula 1 team has appointed Francois-Xavier Demaison as technical director.

Demaison will join the team having previously held the same role under new Williams chief Jost Capito when they were both at Volkswagen Motorsport. He is available to begin work from April 1.

Working initially as World Rally Championship project leader before becoming technical director, Demaison was an integral part of the all-conquering WRC effort that won four consecutive titles from 2013-16 with Sebastien Ogier.

Sebastien Ogier VW WRC 2013

He was also behind the development of the Volkswagen I.D.R electric car, which has set records at iconic venues such as the Nurburgring Nordschleife and Pikes Peak.

While the vast majority of Demaison’s motorsport career has been in rallying, he does have some F1 experience from his time with Renault and Peugeot Sport.

Williams has been without a technical head since Paddy Lowe stepped down as chief technical officer in March 2019 on what was initially a “leave of absence” prior to his official departure three months later.

Demaison will sit at a level above the existing senior technical personnel, which includes design director Doug McKiernan, chief engineer Adam Carter, chief designer David Worner, deputy chief designer/head of design Jonathan Carter and head of vehicle performance Dave Robson. Like team principal Simon Roberts and operations director James Colgate, Demaison will report to Capito.

Capito, who started work at Williams last month, was key to recruiting Demaison – known as ‘FX’ – having worked closely with him as Volkswagen director of motorsport.

“We are delighted to welcome FX to the team,” said Capito. “I have seen his technical capabilities first-hand, and his sporting successes speak for themselves.

Francois Xavier Demaison

“Bringing in someone of his calibre to our already experienced technical team will help drive the future direction of our operation and strengthen our team.

“I have no doubt that his knowledge will contribute to us taking another important step towards our ambitions of winning again.

“At Williams we have an exciting challenge ahead of us, and I look forward to seeing FX contribute as we continue on this journey.”

Demaison worked for Renault in 1995-96 in the UK before moving to Peugeot Sport. In 1999, he was appointed chief rally engineer, a role he held until February 2006. During that period, he engineered Marcus Gronholm to the WRC crown in 2000 and ’02.

Marcus Gronholm Peugeot Monte Carlo WRC 2002

He spent two years working for Prodrive on the Subaru WRC programme in 2006-7 before returning to the PSA Group to work for the Citroen Junior Team in rallying in 2008-9.

After a season as technical director for Petter Solberg’s own WRC team, he joined VW in 2011 ahead of its new programme.

“I am really looking forward to joining Williams Racing, as they begin an exciting journey to turn their performance around,” said Demaison.

“It’s going to be a great challenge, but one that I am eager to start.

“They have a great team of talented people, and I hope I can work with them and the senior management team to help carve out a direction for the future, to help the team achieve its ambitions.”

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