Williams confirm that Rob Smedley will re-unite with Felipe Massa this season

Race engineer joins Grove team in role of Head of Vehicle Performance

By Mike Wise.   Last Updated: 25/02/14 12:44pm

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Williams have confirmed that Rob Smedley is re-uniting with Felipe Massa after joining the Grove-based team as Head of Vehicle Performance.

Smedley's new role is more senior than that of race engineer, which he performed on Massa's car at Ferrari, meaning the pair won't be working as closely together as before.

Williams have described the 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.'

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.'

The announcement of the 40-year-old Briton's switch from Ferrari was not unexpected, with stories linking Smedley to Williams first appearing towards the end of last season.

However, his linking up with Massa again is, in fact, coincidental. Talks between Smedley and Williams began early last summer and a deal was agreed before Ferrari decided to replace Massa with Kimi Raikkonen.

Massa was himself announced as a Williams driver in November after spending a total of eight seasons racing for the Scuderia.

Smedley first engineered Massa's car during the 2006 season and they subsequently forged one of the most familiar working relationships in Formula 1.

The Teessider's radio messages to Massa have become particularly well known - none more so than the 'Fernando is faster than you' comment Smedley made during the 2010 German GP, when Massa led the race from team-mate Fernando Alonso at Hockenheim.

Team orders were banned in F1 at the time but as Ferrari considered Alonso the better world title prospect, they were reliant on the Brazilian's decision to let the Spaniard through.

Alonso went on to win the race but lost that year's World Championship to Sebastian Vettel in the season-finale in Abu Dhabi. The FIA, meanwhile, lifted its ban on team orders the following season.

The third and final pre-season test starts on Thursday morning in Bahrain. The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary from dawn until dusk on all four days, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.

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