F1: Smedley to leave Williams at end of season
By Chris Medland | RACER magazine and RACER.com F1 correspondent
Rob Smedley has announced he will leave Williams at the end of the 2018 season in order to spend more time with his family.
Formerly Felipe Massa’s race engineer at Ferrari, Smedley moved to Williams at the same time as the Brazilian in 2014 but took on the role of head of performance engineering. Having finished ninth in the constructors’ championship in 2013, the team enjoyed a much more successful run under new power unit regulations, finishing third in each of the next two seasons.
However, fifth-place finishes in 2016 and 2017 have been followed by an uncompetitive season this year, with Williams at the bottom of the constructors’ standings, and 44-year-old Smedley says the time is right for him to take a break from Formula 1.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Williams,” Smedley said. “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 1, 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.”
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Deputy team principal Claire Williams paid tribute to Smedley for moving to Williams when the team was struggling, with the 2013 points tally of five the joint-lowest in its history.
“It has been a pleasure having Rob in our team for the last four years and we will miss him both personally and professionally,” Williams said. “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 1.
“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.”
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ABOUT CHRIS MEDLAND
While studying Sports Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, Chris managed to talk his way into working at the British Grand Prix in 2008 and was retained for three years before joining ESPN F1 as Assistant Editor. After three years at ESPN, a spell as F1 Editor at Crash Media Group was followed by the major task of launching F1i.com’s English-language website and running it as Editor. Present at every race since the start of 2014, he has continued building his freelance portfolio, working with international titles. As well as writing for RACER, he contributes to BBC 5Live and Sky Sports in the UK as well as working with titles in Japan and the Middle East.