Formula 1

Rob Smedley set for Williams debut in Bahrain

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Rob Smedley, the man most know as the man in the ear of Felipe Massa at Ferrari, will begin his new role at the Williams team from this weekend.

The Middlesbrough-born Smedley makes the move after seven years as Massa's race engineer but for those hoping to see a continuation of Smedley and Massa's famously close relationship over team radio prepare to be disappointed.

Rather than taking up the same role at the Brazilian's new team, Smedley is taking a promotion and shall be the Chief Engineer over race weekends working under Technical Chief Pat Symonds.

The reason for Smedley having to wait until the third race of the year in Bahrain before taking up his new post is simply to fulfil a period of 'gardening leave' at the end of his Ferrari contract.

While the Grove team has waited for his arrival support engineer and test chief Rod Nelson has been undertaking what will become Smedley's responsibilities.

"He'll be track and I will be factory and testing," Nelson told Autosport describing the difference between their job roles.

"I'll do the tests through the season and go to the races that precede those just to get up to speed with where the race team is with the car.

"We will have quite a bit of interplay between us through a race weekend as I'll be running the control room at Williams and he will run the pitwall."

Indeed Nelson will still be in Bahrain this weekend as, following the three-day event, the first of four in-season tests begin at Sakhir on Monday with three more taking place during the European season.

The interaction between engineers at the circuit and those back at a team's HQ during a race weekend has become one of the big areas of development in recent times with those back at the factories coming up with alternate strategies and ways of fixing problems that can crop up at any time.

According to Autosport this has been an area Williams have particularly struggled in the past, but with the arrival of someone with the knowledge and experience of Smedley, Nelson believes those issues will be addressed and the team will improve as a result.

"When you are racing, you need good communication with the factory because you are after quick turnarounds," said Nelson.

"If you have a problem on Friday, you want it solved on Friday but that's always an issue, keeping lines open all the time."

Also confident of the impact his former race engineer will have at Williams is Felipe Massa, the Brazilian believes the man of whom he won 11 races with at Ferrari will bring fresh inspiration to the legendary team.

"He's going to bring a lot of experience to the team and he's going to bring a lot of good ideas for race team organisation," said the 32-year-old.

"There's a lot going on in the team, a lot of improvements, a lot of things that are going in a good direction.

"But there is still a lot to do and I am sure he will be an important key as well."

Looking ahead to this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, the team will be looking to build on a strong recovery by both drivers to claim seventh and eighth places respectively for Massa and Bottas at the Malaysian Grand Prix, as a wet qualifying again proved the downfall of the otherwise impressive FW36.

However, with no such qualms over the weather this weekend and an impressive showing during the two preseason tests at the Sakhir circuit, the team will hope Smedley's debut for the team can end with an even better result come Sunday.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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