Rob Smedley to leave Williams

Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States of America. Saturday 24 October 2015. Felipe Massa, Williams F1, talks with Rob Smedley, Head of Vehicle Performance, Williams F1. Photo: Glenn Dunbar/Williams ref: Digital Image WW2Q3320

Williams’ head of performance engineering Rob Smedley will leave the Formula 1 team at the end of a dismal season for the former world champions who are struggling to score points.

The 44-year-old joined the British team from Ferrari in 2014 with now-departed Brazilian driver Felipe Massa, and with whom he had a very close working relationship as his race engineer.

The Briton became a familiar voice to fans for his radio messages to Massa at Ferrari, including one at the 2010 German Grand Prix in which he relayed a team order for the Brazilian to move over for Fernando Alonso while leading.

“OK, so Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?” he said.

Williams’ chief designer Ed Wood left for personal reasons in May, along with head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer, who left in the same month.

Press Release:

Williams can confirm that Rob Smedley will leave the team at the end of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship season.

Rob joined the team in 2014 as Head of Performance Engineering, [following Felipe Massa from Ferrari to the team] making his first appearance at the Bahrain Grand Prix to help guide the race operations team at a time of transition following a poor 2013 campaign. The team went on to finish third in the Championship for two consecutive years before finishing fifth in 2016 and 2017.

Commenting on the decision Rob said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Williams. The team has been through great change since I joined in 2014 and it has been a pleasure to have played a part in that. Williams is a very special team within the F1 community and I’m certain that with all the talent that we have here they will go on and do better things. The team will always remain close to my heart. After 20 years in Formula One, however, I feel it’s the right time to reflect on things and evaluate what the next move is. I’m thoroughly looking forward to spending more time with my family before deciding on future opportunities.”

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal added: “It has been a pleasure having Rob in our team for the last four years and we will miss him both personally and professionally. He agreed to join us at a time when our performance was low, and we are grateful that he saw the potential for us to turn things around at that time. During his time with us, he has made a significant contribution to the team through his role, but he’s also been just a great person to have at Grove, inspiring many with his enthusiasm and passion for Formula One. Rob’s been in the sport a long time, so we totally understand and respect his decision to take some well-deserved time out to spend with his wife and boys. We wish him all the best and thank him wholeheartedly for the time, passion and fighting spirit he’s given to Williams.”