15 Jun 2011

'Spygate' culprit back in F1

6:03 am on 15 June 2011

Mike Coughlan, who was at the centre of the 'spygate' scandal that rocked Formula One in 2007 but has returned to Grand Prix racing with Williams, says he aimed to "earn back everyone's respect".

Coughlan was working for Williams' British rivals McLaren when he was suspended from the sport for two years after being found to be in possession of confidential documents belonging to F1 giants Ferrari.

McLaren were fined 50 million and stripped of all their points in the 2007 constructors' championship.

But Coughlan returned to Grand Prix racing last month after being appointed chief engineer of the Williams team.

The events of 2007, Coughlan says were "life-changing because it made me reflect upon myself and my actions. Leaving a team and a sport that I love, and then seeing the consequences of my actions on the team and its fans was devastating".

A contrite Coughlan, who during his ban from Formula One worked for NASCAR team Michael Waltrip Racing among others, also offered an apology to the parties affected in the spygate scandal.

Williams, which have not won a Grand Prix since 2004, stand ninth out of the 10 teams in the constructors' championship with a mere four points from the seven races held so far this season.

Leaders Red Bull have amassed 255pts.