The most famous Northerner in Formula One… well nearly but he is certainly one of the most prominent players in Felipe Massa’s F1 career but how has he got to where he is today?
The most famous Northerner in Formula One… well nearly but he is certainly one of the most prominent players in Felipe Massa’s F1 career but how has he got to where he is today? Lets take a look back through the history books at the career of Rob Smedley, current race engineer for Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.
Rob started his motorsporting career through his university decision to study mathematics and mechanical engineering followed by a masters degree at Loughborough University. A main focus of his was chassis engineering which he worked on with the Peugeot Touring Car team in 1997 as a suspension design engineer. From there he developed through the motorsporting realms in the Formula 3000, the Williams Touring Car team before eventually winding up at the Jordan Grand Prix F1 team, his F1 debut.
He remained with the Jordan team until the end of the 2003 team varying his roles from a data acquisition engineer (relating telementary to performance) to a track engineer picking up the necessary knowledge and skills to become a race engineer in the near future. His next big break came as he joined the Ferrari test team at the end of 2003 creating a new chapter in his career.
His decision to work on the test team was down to the more technical developmental side to testing rather than how he was limited under race team conditions. 2006 was the magic year that Smedley became part of a double act famous in Formula One for a relationship that many F1 team personnel wishes to have with their driver. During the middle of the season Rob Smedley replaced Gabriele Delli Colli as Felipe Massa’s race engineer and from then the duo never looked back.
Felipe’s performance continued to improve and came so close in 2008 to securing the WDC title at his home grand prix in Brazil until it was taken away at the last corner of the last lap of the season by young Briton Lewis Hamilton. However the relationship between Rob and Felipe continued to develop and become a powerhouse as the northerners phrases became an ongoing source of entertainment for the fans… ‘Felipe Baby stay cool, we’ll get you the white visor’ ring any bells?
However the balance of the relationship may sometimes seem unsteady with Massa’s lack of performance after his accident in Hungary Rob has always been a steady medium in Massa’s career ensuring he never gives up and is the true definition of a great working relationship in which both parties enjoy working with each other. Rob Smedley is an astounding race engineer and has demonstrated to many across the Formula One world that a great partnership can withstand the most difficult of circumstances, remaining as a steady base for both careers and hopefully with some reward.
One thing that we continue to hear ‘for sure’ are quotes such as ‘Good boy, beautiful’ for at least another 9 races in 2012. Respect is a necessity for success in Formula One and the relationship between the two colleagues is a perfect example of this. Felipe Massa is now in his 6th year with Ferrari and Rob Smedley, with the 2012 season not quite going to plan yet for Felipe will it be 7th year lucky for the dynamic duo or are the defining duo of race engineer-race driver relationships on the brink of goodbye?
Author: Grace Cunningham
Blog: The Right Formula
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