Ex-Ferrari engineer quizzed on potential return: F1 ‘a drug that is missed’

Jamie Woodhouse
Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley with Felipe Massa.

Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley with Felipe Massa.

Rob Smedley, formerly race engineer at Ferrari to Felipe Massa, is open to a return to Formula 1, though he does have clear terms on what it would take to tempt him back.

Smedley’s career in Formula 1 began in the late 1990s at Jordan, the Brit progressing to become a track engineer for the team in 2002, before switching to Ferrari in 2004.

Having started out engineering in the test team, Smedley went on to become the long-term race engineer to Massa, following him to Williams in 2014 where he worked as the head of vehicle performance through to 2018.

Since then Smedley has worked for Formula 1, initially as a consultant and now as the ‘director of data systems’, though would he be tempted to return to the competition side of things with a team?

Well, he confirmed that he would be interested, though it would need to be with a team that has a “strong possibility” to win and is “committed” to that cause.

Asked by former Ferrari test driver Pedro de la Rosa, on the F1 Nation podcast, if he misses race engineering, Smedley replied: “No, I don’t miss race engineering, I haven’t race engineered for a long, long time now.

“You know when I was at Williams, I kind of run all of the race team, so that was a different experience.

“I’ve been public about this lots of times, if the right project came up, I would be interested, of course I would, but it’s got to be the right project.

“I’m lucky enough that I still get offers now to go back into Formula 1, but I don’t want to go back into Formula 1 to make up the numbers, I want to go to Formula 1 where it’s a team that has a strong possibility and is committed to winning.”

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Smedley admitted that the “buzz on a Sunday afternoon” is never a feeling which he could not miss.

But, he returned to the point that a Formula 1 comeback for him would need to be with the right team.

“You always miss that Sunday afternoon, that buzz on a Sunday afternoon, when you’re racing and all the work that the 1000 men and women in your team have done and you’re pitting that against another competitor, that’s a drug, you can never not miss that having experienced it for 20 odd years,” said Smedley.

“But, do I want to go and make up the numbers? No, thank you.”