At the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix
28 November 1973|
|Team||Williams Martini Racing|
Rob Smedley (born 28 November 1973 in Normanby, Middlesbrough, England) is the Head of Vehicle Performance at the Williams Martini Racing Formula One team. Prior to joining Williams, he was the race engineer for Felipe Massa at Ferrari. After eight years, both moved to Williams; Smedley as Head of Vehicle Performance, and Massa as driver.
Smedley's radio transmissions to Massa have even achieved cult status, with many Ferrari fans putting his messages on their mobile phones as ringtones.
Biography and career
Smedley attended St Peter's School in South Bank before going to St Mary's Sixth Form College. He lived in Normanby until he was 18, before going to Loughborough University and beginning his rise through the ranks in motorsport. He initially studied a degree in mathematics and mechanical engineering, before going on to complete a master's degree.
With his main field of activity in chassis engineering, after leaving university, Smedley began working with Pilbeam Racing Designs on the MP80 Peugeot in 1997 where he worked as a suspension design engineer for the touring car team. He then went on to work in Formula 3000 and the Williams touring car team before making his first foray into Formula One with the Jordan Grand Prix team.
Initially at Jordan, Smedley worked as a data acquisition engineer, overviewing all of the telemetric data that was used by the team's race engineer to support the racing driver. During 2002 and 2003 he went on to be a track engineer for Jordan, before moving to the Ferrari test team at the end of the 2003 season. Smedley initially chose to work on the Ferrari test team because of the possibility to make more technical input, something which is more limited in the race team.
In the middle of the 2006 season, he replaced Gabriele Delli Colli as Felipe Massa's race engineer. Almost immediately Massa's form improved; his previously common errors became less frequent, and in August 2006, Massa took his first Formula One pole position and victory at the Turkish Grand Prix. Smedley is noted for his very frank and occasionally humorous radio transmissions to Massa. This includes at the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix when he was heard clearly saying "Felipe baby, stay cool" after Massa was complaining about not having a clear visor for the wet race which was being restarted.
Following Massa's injury at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Smedley carried on with the role of race engineer for stand-in drivers Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella as they took over Massa's seat for the remainder of the 2009 season. Smedley had previously worked with Fisichella at Jordan.
On 31 January 2014 it was announced by Ted Kravitz (Sky Sports F1) on the last day of testing at Jerez, that Smedley would once again resume his professional relationship with Massa by joining Williams for the 2014 season.
Smedley was awarded an honorary degree ("Doctor of Professional Studies") from Teesside University in 2009. In July 2015 he was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Technology from Loughborough University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Formula 1 and race engineering.
2010 German Grand Prix
At Hockenheim Smedley delivered a very terse radio instruction, "OK, so, Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?", towards the end of the race when Massa was in the lead. Massa then allowed Alonso to overtake him and win the race. Following the pass on lap 49 Smedley added 'OK mate good lad, stick with him now, sorry.' After the race Ferrari were fined $100,000 for breaching race regulations concerning team orders but the result was allowed to stand.
- 1997–1998: suspension engineer – Pilbeam Racing Designs
- 1999: engineer in the test team – Williams (BTCC)
- 2000: track engineer in Formula 3000
- 2001: data acquisition engineer – Jordan Grand Prix (F1)
- 2002–2003: track engineer – Jordan Grand Prix (F1)
- 2004–2005: engineer in the test team – Scuderia Ferrari (F1)
- 2006–2013: race engineer to Felipe Massa – Scuderia Ferrari (F1)
- 2014: head of vehicle performance – Williams (F1)
Smedley is married to Lucy. They have 2 sons. They hold fundraising events on Teesside to support the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS) after the death of their daughter Minnie in 2007. They are also patrons of Zöe's Place Baby Hospice, a charity for sick babies and young children.
- "Williams confirm Rob Smedley won't join Massa". GMS Tees. GMS. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
- "Felipe baby, stay cool". BBC Tees. BBC. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
- "Rob's rise to the top of F1". Gazettelive.co.uk. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- "Rob Smedley's Profile". Thescuderia.net. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- "The enigma that is Felipe Massa". Itv-f1.com. 5 May 2008. Archived from the original on 22 February 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- "Classic F1 – Button wins 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix". BBC Sport. BBC. 5 April 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
- Teesside University (4 November 2009). "Honours from the University of the Year". Tees.ac.uk. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Loughborough University. "Two F1 engineers to be honoured at Loughborough graduation". lboro.ac.uk.
- "Formula 1 highlights – German Grand Prix". BBC Sport. BBC. 25 July 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
- James Allen on Formula 1 website – Smedley finally makes Williams switch as head of vehicle performance.
- "Ferrari's secret F1 weapon (from Teesside)". BBC Tees. BBC. 30 September 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2009.