Williams hired Pat Symonds as chief technical officer of the Formula One team on Tuesday after Mike Coughlan paid the price for the team's woeful start to the season.
Coughlan "stepped down" from his position as technical director and leaves with immediate effect, the team said in a statement as it searches for its first point of the 2013 championship.
With more than 30 years' experience in F1, Symonds has been enticed from rival team Marussia to help transform Williams' fortunes.
"His technical capabilities and sporting successes speak for themselves and I'm sure that his knowledge and leadership will contribute considerably to the success that all of us at Williams are working hard to achieve," team principal Frank Williams said.
Symonds said the "foundations for success" are already in place at the team, which is based in the English town of Enstone.
"Williams is a team steeped in success and engineering excellence and I'm honored to be asked to play a role in returning the team to its rightful place at the pinnacle of Formula One," he said.
Symonds achieved championship success with Michael Schumacher at Benetton and Fernando Alonso at Renault.
But the Briton was out of F1 from 2009 until this year, serving a ban over a controversial incident while chief engineer at Renault.
Nelson Piquet Jr. was ordered to deliberately crash his car to help teammate Alonso win the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008.
Symonds will start his new job at Williams on Aug. 19 after leaving Marussia.
Separately, Marussia announced Tuesday that it will use Ferrari engines next season, ending its association with Cosworth.
"Not only will we benefit from a customer supply from the most successful engine manufacturer in Formula One's history, but this also provides further confirmation, if it were needed, of our commitment to the sport and determination to maintain our progression towards our long-term ambitions," Marussia chief executive officer Andy Webb said.