This will be Dirk de Beer's new office - the aero test room at Williams. File photo: Williams F1

London – Former Ferrari chief aerodynamicist Dirk de Beer will join Williams on 1 March to head its aero department, the Formula One team said on Thursday.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said: "His knowledge and technical expertise will undoubtedly be a great asset to the team in our continued push to restore Williams to the front of the grid."

The South African worked previously at Sauber, Renault and Lotus before joining Ferrari in 2013. His departure from the Italian team was announced last season.

Former champion Williams finished fifth overall in 2016 but is undergoing a technical revamp following the departure of engineering head Pat Symonds. Canadian rookie Lance Stroll and Brazilian veteran Felipe Massa are the 2017 drivers.

Former Mercedes technical head Paddy Lowe is expected to join, once his 'gardening leave' from the world champion is completed.

Aerodynamics is in the spotlight this season with the introduction of new regulations that will see cars cornering faster on much bigger tyres.

Allison to Mercedes

Meanwhile, former Ferrari technical director James Allison will take on a similar role at Mercedes from 1 March 1.

The reigning Formula One world champion team said on Thursday Allison would replace Paddy Lowe, who helped lead Mercedes to three consecutive Drivers' and Constructors' world championships; he will report directly to motorsport head Toto Wolff.

"I am very excited to be getting back to work after this time away from the sport," said the 48-year-old, who has won world championships with both Ferrari and Renault.

"It's a huge privilege to be given the trust of a position in a team that has done so spectacularly well in the past three seasons," added Allison, who quit Ferrari in July 2016 for personal reasons.

"I am really looking forward to playing my part in helping Mercedes go from strength to strength in the coming years."

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