NOVEMBER 29, 2016

Williams must not lose Rob Smedley

Claire Williams says the British team she leads does not want to lose Rob Smedley.

Claire Williams says the British team she leads does not want to lose Rob Smedley.

In the past decade, British engineer Smedley's career has been intricately linked with that of Felipe Massa, who headed into retirement at the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi.

And recently, Smedley indicated that he might follow his friend's lead by easing off the F1 throttle.

"I'm thinking that in two or three years I'll want to slow down a little," he said. "For professional reasons, coming to the races is the right thing, but on the personal side, I really miss my family."

Smedley's comments come at the end of a solid but also difficult year for Williams, with founder Sir Frank Williams unwell and the team even falling behind Force India in the championship.

"When we started out restructuring, we said we would no longer tolerate our decline in results," team deputy boss Claire Williams said. "Then we had several successful seasons.

"Perhaps this year has forced us to wake up again."

Claire said the Grove based team had already identified the reasons for its problems in 2016 and would implement fixes for 2017.

"I don't want to discuss in detail the causes of our problems -- that would be wrong," she insisted. "But I know that we can solve them."

Asked if Smedley will be at the heart of those fixes, Williams answered: "Rob has done a great job since he joined the team and I do not expect any changes.

"He is an important part of the team, not just as a talented engineer, but also a very passionate person and that is what the team needs."

Told, however, that Smedley has mentioned easing off the throttle, Claire responded: "We can discuss that with him.

"He himself has to decide where his technical capacities will be most useful. Someone like Rob wants to progress and do more, and it's not always just associated with work on the track. So we'll see," she added.