Tag Archives: Smedley

Smedley: Second is still “achievable”

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In an interview with Autosport yesterday, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley believes that despite falling off the pace last weekend in Hungary, second in the Championship is “still achievable.”

In recent weeks, Williams have been arguably the second best team on the grid, leading the charge ahead of Red Bull and Ferrari. But that ended last weekend in Hungary when the FW36 lacked the pace on the tight, twisty circuit. As such Williams finished off the podium for the first time in four races and dropped to third in the Championship, seven points behind Ferrari.

In his interview with Autosport yesterday, Smedley believes it is only a matter of time before Williams overhaul Ferrari and hunt down Red Bull. Smedley stated the following:-

‘Our target is to be second in the Championship and that’s still achievable. I think we had a race that was a little bit anomalous if you look at our results over the last five races. We’ve got two races [Spa and Monza] coming up where we’ve got to capitalise on the characteristics of the car. We think those circuits will suit us. We have to capitalise on that and put ourselves in a good position.’

Even though Williams did not perform well last weekend in Hungary, it is clear that Williams when they have the opportunity to get a good result can deliver. I think that their target of achieving second in the Championship can be achieved but I feel that a lot of hard work is needed in order for them to achieve it.

But let us not forget that Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari will also be improving and pushing to achieve the best results possible too and Williams will have to try and do the best they can with the upgrades that they will bring throughout the remainder of the season ahead.

As Smedley has stated, if he and the Williams team believe that Spa and Monza will benefit their car, then they have to ensure that they work towards capitalising on that and go out on the track and push for the best result that they can.

Further on in his interview, at a time when the development war is set to heat up, Smedley is confident Williams have what it takes to keep pace. Smedley added the following:-

‘Development speed and testing methodology has improved and allowed us to keep pace with the others, or even get ahead of them at times. At the track, testing and racing, we’re making steady progress. There are big areas we’ve looked into and we have a certain evolving structure we’re improving all the time.

‘Certain things you want on the car have a long lead time and you can’t have them at the next race, or even until the next year. Some of it with the operations group you can solve in 10 minutes and some of it you need a lot longer. It’s a constant juggling act.’

As Smedley rightly points out further on in his interview, developing a car throughout the course of a long season is tough but Williams this season so far has managed to keep up so far with the rest of the grid. There is no denying that within pre-season testing for example that Williams put on a reliable, consistent and competitive performance that showed what they are capable of and have made steady progress as a result.

Even though Smedley calls it a “juggling act”, he is realistic at what he would to put on the car. But he also knows that sometimes you may have to wait for these improvements even though he knows that sometimes they are needed. But the main thing is that if they can get onto the car eventually and improves performance, then that is all that matters.

In regards to what Smedley has stated yesterday, even though second in the Constructors is not yet mathematically impossible for them to obtain, it will be difficult for Williams to achieve it. Every team on the grid will be looking to improve as much as possible during the second half of the season and all the Williams team under Smedley can do is ensure that they bring efficient upgrades and make the best out of them on the track.

But can Williams achieve second place in the Constructors this season? I feel that it is possible, but Williams will have a fight on their hands to order to obtain it from Red Bull or Ferrari. But the Williams team will fight until the very last moment trying to achieve it. All we can do is see what happens at the final race in Abu Dhabi.

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Smedley: We will not get carried away with our recent performances

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In an interview with Autosport today, Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley has stated that he and the Williams team are determined not to be carried away by their recent performances in the last few Grand Prix.

After a steady start to the season, Williams have kicked on in recent races as they locked out the front row of the grid in Austria with Felipe Massa on pole and Valtteri Bottas claiming P3.Bottas then took another step forward with a P2 at Silverstone last time out with many pundits and fans believing that they could again get a podium finish in Germany this weekend.

Many now believe the Williams team now have the second-fastest car on the grid, but when asked in his interview with Autosport  today if this is the case, Smedley said the following:-

‘I think it would be quite remiss for me to say Williams has the second fastest car and it will remain like that. I think it’s so tight in the midfield that it can swing either way and you can go from having the second fastest car to the fifth fastest car very easily.

‘You [need to] keep the pressure on in every single area – that’s how you end up with a car able to win races and eventually comfortably win races. You have to keep your feet on the ground and be respectful of your competitors and respectful of every single circuit you go to, and we absolutely are. That’s my philosophy, it’s a Pat Symonds’ philosophy as well, and it’s a philosophy I pass on to the team.’

Even though many pundits and fans believe that Williams are the second fastest team on the grid currently, I would have to agree with Smedley here. I am not disputing that Williams are not competitive right now because they are indeed. But as Smedley points out, currently the midfield is so tight in the sport and we have seen so far this season that things can change in the order weekend to weekend.

But Smedley makes a valid point here. Williams now need to ensure that they build upon what they have achieved so far this season already, keep developing and pushing to extract more pace and performance from their car as quickly as possible and get the best results that they can in a race weekend. I do feel that the philosophy that Smedley and even Symonds as introduced to the Williams team is the correct approach for them and it will be a philosophy that will bring results for them and has already produced some astonishing results for them too.

Since there are many similarities to Silverstone, the omens are looking good for Williams and I think many pundits and fans wouldn’t be surprised if you find Bottas or Massa on the podium. When asked by Autosport about their aims for this weekend in Hockenheim, Smedley stated the following:-

‘It’s like Silverstone in the way that it’s quite an efficient track. There’s good power sensitivity with the long straights which will be good for us. In terms of tyres, we will use both soft and super-soft.

‘It’s often cold and rainy as it was during qualifying last time we went there in 2012, alternatively, it can be really hot and that can affect the rear tyres, meaning you must keep both temperatures and graining under control. That is our key focus going into the race weekend, and we hope to come out with more good points.’

It would appear that the characteristics of the Hockenheim circuit could suit the Williams team this weekend but Smedley is realistic about it. As he points out, the weather can really affect how a team and its car can perform but all he can do is to push the team and its drivers with their strategy for the race on Sunday to get the best possible result that they can achieve.

Question is; can Williams keep the momentum that they have achieved in the last few races and grab a podium this weekend in Germany? If the Williams team and its drivers have an opportunity to achieve this and have the car underneath them, then they might just achieve it. But we shall have to wait and see what happens this weekend.

Smedley: We haven’t lost points

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In an interview with crash.net today, Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley has denied suggestions that Williams have lost points throughout this season so far as a result of poor tactics.

At the Austrian Grand Prix, the Williams team brought in their biggest points haul of this season as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished third and fourth. Both of their drivers netted the Williams team 27 points and pushed ahead of McLaren in the Constructors Championship. However having started on the front row of the grid in Austria, there were some questions about whether poor tactics had cost the team vital points.

In his interview with crash.net today, Smedley believes that those expectations of more have been created outside the team. He said the following:-

‘I’m not always fully in agreement that we haven’t [taken the points we should have]. I think it was my first ever press conference, in Bahrain, when it was suggested that we were not getting all the points we should have been getting. But, if you look at the pace of the car, yes we’ve dropped some points, but I don’t think we’ve dropped any more points than other people.

‘I think that’s something that has built up some momentum outside of the team, rather than inside the team, so I don’t think [Austria’s result] was any more or less important than it ever is. We come thinking, if there’s 27 points on the table, we want them. There’s not always 27 points on the table for us, looking at it realistically, but [in Austria] there was and we went and got them. It was important – but it’s always important.’

Even though it has been discussed by many pundits and fans that Williams could have gained more points this season than they have currently, I do believe that certain opportunities have been missed by the Williams team. I still believe if Bottas hadn’t made his mistake in Australia, I believe Bottas could have challenged for the podium with the McLaren drivers.

I do understand where Smedley is coming from and I would have to say that it is the correct attitude to approach this matter. Of course there is no question that they have dropped points where they shouldn’t have, but as Smedley points out they haven’t dropped points as other teams such as Red Bull or McLaren.

I would have to agree with Smedley and I do believe that this has gained momentum in the public eye and in the media. That is not to say that the Williams team themselves did not believe they are capable of producing performances such as Austria for example because of course they believed that they could achieve it. But as Smedley says, they were provided with an opportunity to score well in Austria and the Williams team took it and were rewarded with their best result of the season so far.

This season saw Smedley join the Williams team from Ferrari and looks happy with his new role in the sport with the team. Further on in his interview with crash.net, Smedley has stated that he is now looking forward to the British GP. He went on to say that he feels confident that in the FW36 and its Mercedes engine, Williams have a car capable of fighting for solid points. He added the following:-

‘We have a very efficient car, with a lower drag level compared to our competitors, and [Austria] is quite an ‘efficient’ circuit, so that’s a circuit that suits us with less drag. There’s also a high power sensitivity there, so if we’ve got a powerful engine, that suits us as well. I don’t think there’s any magic…

‘At Silverstone, the downforce sensitivity is a lot higher than [Austria] so, for every point of downforce you’re missing against your competitors, that’s more heavily penalised at Silverstone. The drag sensitivity is high at Silverstone, and power sensitivity is high, but I don’t think there is anywhere we should fear, or be scared of circuits or circumstances. We can go everywhere and be positive. Some places will suit us more than others, but we shouldn’t be scared of anywhere.’

As Smedley points out, Silverstone is completely different to Austria and we will ultimately see next weekend just how the Williams team will perform on a track that tests the car aerodynamically. I would have to say that even though Williams have a very efficient car that is fairly competitive and reliable, I do believe that Silverstone will be a big test for them.

There is no question that a few teams will be bringing further updates and improvements to their car such as McLaren and Williams will need to ensure that they can also try and bring some to the circuit next weekend in order to further improve their performance.

Even though the Williams team thoroughly deserved their great performance at the Austrian Grand Prix, I do feel that they will have ensure that they extract the best performance out of their car in order to keep up the momentum achieved from Austria.

But as Smedley says, this result from Austria and also their performance of their car so far this season should only encourage the Williams team to extract the best possible result from the remaining races of the season and that in Smedley’s words should not be ‘scared’ to show what they can do.

So will Williams be able to build upon what they have achieved in Austria next weekend? We can only wait and see.

Massa: Monaco will be difficult for us

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In an interview with Autosport yesterday, Williams driver Felipe Massa believes that the combination of increased engine torque and lower downforce will make this year’s cars a real handful to handle on the narrow Monte Carlo street circuit. When asked his thoughts on the subject: Massa stated the following in his interview with Autosport:-

‘I think Monaco will be a very, very difficult race. We drive with the car a lot more sideways. The torque we have from the engine is maybe double what we had last year, and the grip from the tyre is not very high, so Monaco will be a very easy race to crash. I think it will be the toughest race of the season.’

You cannot really dispute what Massa has stated in his interview. I do agree with Massa and believe that Monaco will be a very difficult race. The Monaco Grand Prix over its history in the sport has provided some astonishing races and always tests the drivers and their cars to the absolute limit. And that is why the Grand Prix is looked forward to by many pundits and fans every year.

In regards to the Grand Prix this year, I think it will be challenging and difficult for the teams and the drivers especially with them still trying to get to grips with the new technical regulations. As Massa rightly points out, with the new power units and also the new tyre compounds, it will challenge each team and driver to the limit and if they can try and use the new technical challenge to their advantage, they will be rewarded.

Despite the spate of technical changes to the cars this season, Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley has played down suggestions that this year’s race in the Principality will be drastically different to other years. In his interview with Autosport, Smedley stated the following:-

‘Fundamentally Monte Carlo is always Monte Carlo – I don’t think it’s going to be really any different to when we’ve been there in the past. Monaco has always been rear, longitudinal wear limited; for as long as I’ve done Formula One we’ve always worn out the rear tyres during the race.

‘You can allow yourself a bigger margin of degradation, because of how difficult it is to pass there, but the person who manages to keep his rear tyres alive and wear them out less than the other drivers will be the person who dominates. It is a different technical regime of the cars, but will it change the spectacle of Monaco? Will it change how we operate? No it won’t.’

As Smedley has stated above, Monaco has always provided the teams and the drivers with the ultimate challenge within Formula One. Even though as Smedley points out, Monaco is known as a circuit that is known for high rear tyre degradation, the team and driver who can do the best job they can to protect the tyres will be rewarded for their efforts in the race on Sunday.

Even though we have seen the teams and drivers since the start of the season trying to get to grips with the new technical regulations, we will still see them adapting and developing their cars throughout the course of the weekend hoping to extract the best performance they can from their cars.

In conclusion, I would have to agree with Massa and say that Monaco will be extremely difficult not only for him and the Williams team, but for everyone else on the grid too. Formula One in Monaco provides us with the ultimate test of man and machinery pushing themselves to the absolute limit and being rewarded for their patience, concentration and most importantly speed.

Question is will Massa and the Williams team be able to extract the best possible performance from their car to be rewarded with a strong performance at Monaco this weekend? We shall have to wait and see.

Smedley confirms his move to Williams

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It was announced early this morning by the Williams team that Rob Smedley will re-unite with former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa after joining the team as Head of Vehicle Performance.  Smedley’s new role at the Williams is more senior than that of race engineer, which he performed on Massa’s car at Ferrari which means that the pair will not be working as closely together as before.

Smedley first engineered Massa’s car during the 2006 season and they successfully forged one of the most familiar working relationships in Formula 1 between the driver and engineer. The radio messages from Smedley to Massa have become particularly well known within the sport.

For example, the radio message to Massa from Smedley at the 2010 German Grand Prix is the most famous. Smedley’s comment of “Fernando is faster than you” to Massa when he was leading the race from Alonso.

At the time, team orders were banned from the sport. During the 2010 season, Ferrari considered at that stage that Alonso looked the better prospect for the World Championship and the team were looking towards Massa letting Alonso pass him, which he did and Alonso won the Grand Prix. As a result of this decision, Alonso last the championship that year to Sebastian Vettel at the final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi and the FIA lifted the ban on team orders starting in 2011.

The Williams team have described the Smedley’s role of ‘Head of Vehicle Performance’ as:-

‘a newly created position which will strengthen the trackside team whilst also supporting the development work back at the factory to help bring more performance to the car throughout the season.’

The announcement of his switch from Ferrari to the Williams was not unexpected nor a surprise to us all. There have been many stories linking Smedley to Williams first appearing towards the end of last season after Massa announced last November that he would be racing with the Williams team for this season after departing Ferrari after eight years of service.

However, his linking up with Massa again is in fact a more of a coincidence. Talks between Smedley and Williams began early last summer and a deal was agreed before Ferrari decided to replace Massa with the return of Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari for the 2014 season.

It is expected that Smedley will begin work at Williams in April and “will be supported by Race Engineers Andrew Murdoch, who is engineer to Felipe Massa, and Jonathan Eddolls, who remains with Valtteri Bottas in 2014.”

It would seem that so far Williams are not only enjoying some positive signs on track with their current car the FW36 in pre-season testing but also with the latest developments that have been announced by the team over the past few weeks to the media.

Already at this early stage of the season, the Williams team have already made positive steps to improve on their joint worst season in the sport last year when they finished ninth in the Constructors Championship.

They have managed to secure the services of Massa who will bring much needed experience gained from his time at Ferrari to lead the team this year. The team have switched from Renault power to Mercedes power for this season and the benefit is starting to show potential for them already.

The Williams team have reorganised majorly their technical side of their operations in response to this and have managed to recruit Technical Director Pat Symonds who has a vast range of experience and success within the sport. Last week Williams announced the signing of Felipe Nasr as a Test Driver for 2014 who has impressed the paddock last week at the test in Bahrain by running over 80 laps.

Yesterday saw the Williams team announce that their Development Driver Susie Wolff will be taking part in two Practice Sessions at the British and German Grand Prix this year which is great news for Formula One. And now the news that Williams have managed to secure the services of Smedley will have no doubt strengthened the team even further and we are so glad to see the partnership of him and Massa back together in Formula One.

This year Williams have already it would seem to be shown that they have put all the measure in places in order to make sure that 2014 season will be more competitive than the previous season. They managed to secure the services of some talented and motivated individuals who will no doubt push the team currently to be the best they can be while also be planning for the seasons ahead.

If Williams has put everything together within the team and build on what they currently have achieved, the signs are looking good for them currently and also in the future. Williams just need to make sure that they provide both Massa and Bottas with the tools to be competitive, 2014 may just be a competitive year for the team. And I really do hope that it is as Williams absolutely deserve it. They really do.