Rob Smedley out at Williams F1

Rob Smedley will leave his role as Williams head of performance engineering at the end of the 2018 Formula 1 season, ending a five-year relationship with the team and a 20-year stint in the sport.

Smedley is one of the few nondriving characters in the F1 paddock that is known by the wider public. Formerly the race engineer for Felipe Massa at Ferrari, Smedley became famous for his relaxed temperament when communicating over the radio to his driver — although the infamous “Fernando is faster than you” transmission from the 2010 German Grand Prix that may have changed the course of Massa's career is a dark spot that will always haunt him. 

Joining Williams in 2014, the same time that Massa switched over from Ferrari, Smedley oversaw the team's rise up the grid as both Massa and Valtteri Bottas took multiple podium finishes. The following season equaled more success, but the past three years have seen a steady decline for the once championship-winning team. The team has hit a low this season with just seven points and a 10th-place showing in the F1 constructors' championship standings.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Williams,” said Smedley. “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.”

Although wanting to spend more time with his family, it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that Smedley might find a new home at the Venturi Formula E team. With Susie Wolff, a former Williams reserve driver, as the team principal and Massa in one of the driving seats, the less arduous calendar could be the perfect opportunity for Smedley.

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