Mike Coughlan obtained a degree in mechanical engineering from Brunel University in 1981. He joined Lotus’s Formula 1 design team, working on the Type 95 car of 1984, then aged 25.
In 1990 he joined Benetton in 1990 as head of the design office working with John Barnard and also race engineer for Nelson Piquet. But the following year switched to Tyrrell as race engineer. This was another brief stay before he re-joined Barnard at Ferrari Design and Development in Surrey in 1993.
Five years later he joined the Arrows F1 team as chief designer, gaining a promotion to technical director in 2000. But the team collapsed in 2002 and Coughlan switched to McLaren in September that year, becoming their chief designer.
He left the team in 2007 after he was discovered to have received confidential information on the design of Ferrari’s car from Nigel Stepney.