As we all know Felipe Massa will end his Formula One career, as a driver, after the grand prix in Abu Dhabi. But now Rob Smedley has confessed to wanting to slow things down for himself too.
Smedley and Massa have been dancing the Formula One tango for ten years now. They first got together when Smedley replaced Gabrielle Delli Colli at Ferrari, as Massa’s race engineer, halfway through 2006, and they both moved to Williams simultaneously in 2014. But the “dream mariage” will end after the Abu Dhabi grand prix, which will be Massa’s 250th. Now I know many felt Massa never returned to the racer he was before his accident in 2009, but you’ve got to admit 250 is a big number. Smedley on the other hand rose up to be head of vehicle performance at Williams after being a race engineer at Ferrari. And many believe, rightly so, that Smedley was a big part of the racer Massa was, before that day in 2009.
However the forty-two year old won’t be stepping down or quiting all together, he just wants to take it down a notch. He says his decision has nothing to do with Massa’s, which is one he absolutely understands. “I’m happy that Felipe doesn’t ascend down the order and gets demoted from one backmarker to an other. And even when I love him very much, I think his family supports his decision. His mom and dad and his wife are very good people who’ll enjoy Felipe more now, as a son, a husband, a father. I have to say I knew about his decision for a longer time then most…”
When they had a joined holiday in Ibiza this summer Massa would have told him about his feelings to withdraw from the sport. “He hadn’t come to a full conclusion yet, but I felt on some level he already knew”, according to the Briton. “My decision has nothing to do with the choice Felipe is making. I’m traveling the world now for 20 years, from and to every race, and that’s quite a long time.”
“For that reason I think I’ll be putting the brakes on for two or three years. From a professional point of view it is, of course, necessary to go to every race. But on the other hand, I miss my family. And I’ll still be a part of F1 and Williams. I made a commitment to help them with the rebuilding toward new success, but that doesn’t mean I have to be at every single race.”