Former Volkswagen Motorsport technical director François-Xavier Demaison will take up the same role at the Williams Racing Formula 1 team, where his old World Rally Championship boss Jost Capito is chief executive officer.
Capito was appointed to the position at the end of last year to help the struggling British outfit, and knows Demaison well after they did the WRC drivers’ and manufacturers’ title double together at VW from 2013-2016.
It will mark the fulfilment of a long-held dream for technical genius Demaison, who was expected to follow Capito into F1 at McLaren back when VW pulled out of the WRC’s top tier at the end of its title run in 2016.
DirtFish understands he also more recently turned down a position at the FIA in favor of working in F1.
“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.”
Demaison has been in the WRC on-and-off for over 20 years, with his first big role being chief engineer at Peugeot Sport during the WRC’s Kit Car era and then into the World Rally Car years where for some time Peugeot and its lead driver Marcus Grönholm was the combination to beat.
After seven years and five WRC titles, Demaison left Peugeot in 2006 to take up the same position in the Subaru World Rally Team and forged a new partnership with Petter Solberg.
It ended up being a tricky couple of seasons with no wins, and during a two-year spell at the Citroën Junior Team that followed – where he oversaw Sébastien Ogier’s WRC debut while also engineering Conrad Rautenbach – he reunited with Solberg and joined the Norwegian in his own rally team for 2010 as technical director.
Petter Solberg World Rally Team became a potent force once Solberg had the latest Citroën C4 WRC, and the team claimed eight podiums before Demaison was headhunted to be project manager for VW’s WRC return.
In addition to years of record-breaking success with Ogier at the wheel of its Polo R WRC, Demaison masterminded the electric I.D. R prototype car that is the fastest ever up Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and used his technical nous on the R5 version of the Polo rally car still used today.
Capito is unsurprisingly enthusiastic to be reunited with Demaison for 2021.
“We are delighted to welcome FX to the team,” he said.
“I have seen his technical capabilities first-hand, and his sporting successes speak for themselves.
“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.”