Rob Smedley to leave Williams at end of season

2018 F1 season

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Williams has announced its head of performance engineering Rob Smedley will step down at the end of the season.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Williams,” said Smedley. “The team has been through great change since I joined in 2014 and it has been a pleasure to have played a part in that. Williams is a very special team within the F1 community and I’m certain that with all the talent that we have here they will go on and do better things. The team will always remain close to my heart.

“After 20 years in Formula One, however, I feel it’s the right time to reflect on things and evaluate what the next move is. I’m thoroughly looking forward to spending more time with my family before deciding on future opportunities.”

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said they “understand and respect his decision to take some well-deserved time out to spend with his wife and boys”.

“He agreed to join us at a time when our performance was low, and we are grateful that he saw the potential for us to turn things around at that time,” said Williams.

“During his time with us, he has made a significant contribution to the team through his role, but he’s also been just a great person to have at Grove, inspiring many with his enthusiasm and passion for Formula One.”

Smedley is the latest in a series of senior names to depart Williams. Designer Ed Wood and aerodynamicist Dirk de Beer stepped down in May following the team’s poor start to the season with its FW41. It is last in the constructors’ championship with two races remaining.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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57 comments on “Rob Smedley to leave Williams at end of season”

  1. Not too surprising after all although I didn’t really expect this now.

  2. Should go to FE with Massa xD

    1. @skipgamer – it was quite the bromance back in Massa’s Ferrari/Williams days, wasn’t it? :-)

    2. He won’t go to FE, cos he is taking a sabbatical to spend time with family.

      1. Oh, that probably explains why @skipgamer said ‘should go’ :P

        PS quite risky if you don’t register; one might accidentally use one’s email as username ;)

        1. PS quite risky if you don’t register; one might accidentally use one’s email as username ;)

          LOL @coldfly

  3. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    5th November 2018, 10:49

    Whatever you do Rob baby, stay cool

  4. How many people does it take to change a lightbulb? Actually, that isn’t a good question.

    How many disheartened people does it take before F1 realises that it has a problem and does something to fix it? That is a better question.

    If F1 and Williams were competitive, Smedley wouldn’t be leaving. Alonso wouldn’t be leaving. Ricciardo wouldn’t be taking desperate moves to Renault to reinvigorate his love with F1 and hoping to luck into a good seat 3 years from now. Newey wouldn’t be designing yachts and supercars. And most importantly, F1 viewers wouldn’t be leaving either.

    Please change F1. You are breaking the hearts of people that we want to keep in F1. You are driving viewers away. You must give more than just 1 or 2 teams and 1 or 2 drivers a shot at some kind of success. Give them something to strive for. Right now, all you are giving them is a chance to slowly get a little further away from the top each year. They don’t even have the hope that the decline might slow or stop. It certainly looks like it will get bigger next year as well. Is it any wonder that good people are finding better things to do with their time and new challenges elsewhere?

    Soon, when people go on “gardening leave”, it will be because they are actually going home to tend to their gardens because that is more rewarding than being involved in F1.

    People talk about Formula 1 and Formula 1.5. But that isn’t accurate. Formula 1.5 has only one team in it (RB). The rest are in Formula 2. And there is no hope when you are in Formula 2. Even Formula 1.5 is out of your reach for an indefinite future.

    1. Great, great comment.

    2. Oh, I forgot to give you the answer to the question.
      “How many disheartened people does it take before F1 realises that it has a problem and does something to fix it?”

      So far, the answer is 41%. That is the amount of viewers lost worldwide in the last decade. But that only tells us the amount of disheartened people so far. It doesn’t tell us how many more we will lose before F1 fixes this. My best guess is somewhere between 60 and 80% of the viewers that used to watch a decade ago. But profits haven’t been hit badly yet, so why change?

      When profits take a big hit, they will make meaningful change. And they will say “We didn’t see this coming”. But it’s been coming slowly for 10-15 years. Bit by bit. Like a slow train crash.

      I have another question. Let’s say we are at Monaco where it is near impossible to pass. Merc, Ferrari and RB have to take engine penalties and start at the back of the grid. How many people think we might see a Renault, HAAS, FI or whatever victory? It is possible, but unlikely. The top 6 would find a way such is their advantage. It may not be possible, but the fact that we can debate it makes me seriously unhappy. This should never be possible at Monaco in it’s current track layout.

      1. @mickharrold Well, Verstappen did start from the back of the grid this year, and he, despite the car pace advantage he has over most of the drivers ahead of him on the grid, still failed to reach P6 there, so if all the drivers of the top-3 teams had to start from the back around Monaco, then it’d be a real possibility that none of them would be able to reach the top-positions due to the tracks nature when it comes to the difficulty of overtaking.

        1. Yes, was an interesting question, but it’s so hard to overtake at monaco, as soon as you hit a train of cars, even just 2 who can use the DRS to defend from you on the car in front, you likely will be stuck.

          1. @esploratore
            Ah yes you have a point. But remember that 6 cars started at the back. And you have more cars with pace coming at them. and also you have your wingmen (Bottas, Raikonnen) to put the cars in front out of position and force them into race strategies they wouldn’t otherwise do if the car behind didn’t have the pace advantage.

            And then remember that the cars in front use Ferrari and Merc engines. So they will move out of the way for you as Occon did for Hamilton and Bottas this year. It isn’t just a pace advantage that these guys have. It’s a political one too. So if you are in Merc, you only have to pass the Renault and Ferrari engined teams and Vice Versa for Ferrari. RB have a tougher time of it though as even Renault won’t be nice to them.

            I fully bet that if Hamilton or Vettel had started up the back of the grid, they would have passed more cars than Verstappen. But only for political reasons.

      2. I think it is unfortunately past the point of no-return. Liberty paid so much for F1 that they can not really change it much. They can not realistically increase the prize money for teams, They can not abandon pay TV and they are going to struggle to reduce the costs to circuits. Bernie set up a very strong pyramid scheme and I can not help to think that Liberty were possibly the only people in the world to not see it for what it was…

        I think the best way forward would be for the F1 teams to ditch F1 and form their own series and start again with a more sustainable business model where everyone involved benefits from the success. Ferrari would not agree to that as they would lose their preferential status. However the other teams should forget about them and allow them to come grovelling later down the line.

      3. What do you want? Some afirmative action to bring the teams that have failed, consistently, to compete, to start winning?

        Be careful what you wish for, you might not like the result

        1. The issue is that the bottom teams struggle due to money. Ferrari gets huge sums just for being Ferrari… The teams are also struggling to get good sponsors as the value of putting a logo on a car is falling because less people are watching.

          Tracks are losing money, tv viewers are dropping away quicker than rats running from fire. And the response previously has been to charge more to tracks, make up for viewer shortfall by putting even more of the action behind paywalls and no change to the teams pay structure.

          More of the money made by F1 needs to go to the teams but unfortunately this is now impossible as Liberty have massive loans to pay. The tracks need to be charged far less so that they can make a healthy profit. This is not really possible as Liberty have huge loans to pay off. And the TV paywalls need to come down as that drives new viewers and keeps existing ones. That is not really possible because Liberty have huge loans to pay off.

          And the real big issue is that Liberty is struggling to pay off its loans as they are not making enough money because viewers are turning off and so sponsorship value is falling.

    3. @mickharrold baby stay cool, we will bring you good F1 stay cool, we are in a good position

    4. @mickharrold I don’t think all that is correct. And let worked for 20 years in F1, he wants to have more time with his family which is perfectly understandable and has nothing to do with the state of F1. Others have done the same. Remember Sam Michael?

      Newey’s situation might have to do with the limitations in design these days but think.about it, the guy won everything, he needed new challenges as he said. His reasoning was more profound than simply “I don’t like current formula 1”, at least that’s what he said in his book.

      Alonso has no real options. And Riccardo, I don’t know what about the current generation of F1 cars have to do with his decision to leave a team that’s winning races. He’s taking a gamble like Hamilton did in 2012.

      I agree with the rest of the comment anyway. F1 needs more competition. But those individual situation are no valid argument in my view.

      1. Newey stayed around for the start of 2014, but once the writing was on the wall that Renault and RB couldn’t challenge for at least a few years, he toddled off to do something more exciting. Sounds like disillusionment to me.

        Alonso has no real options. Sounds like disillusionment to me.

        Ricciardo is prepared to take a massive risk (way bigger than Hamilton’s) to try and secure a good drive 3 years from now. Sounds like disillusionment to me.

        I don’t know the ins and outs of the Smedley decision. However, if Williams were on the up and challenging for something real, I doubt he would be going. Sounds like disillusionment to me.

        41% of viewers have dropped off in the last decade. Sounds like disillusionment to me.

        The writing is on the wall. But will F1 see the problems now and fix them or will they band aid over them. People can put their heads in the sand all they like, but it all Sounds like disillusionment to me.

        1. @mickharrold I still don’t understand this type of sentiment. Liberty has barely had time to affect things due to the spill over from the BE era, and they have also talked about not doing more knee-jerk reactions to try to bandage over problems. Not to mention there are contracts in place that Liberty had nothing to do with and just have to see their course through. Liberty on the other hand has all kinds of plans for when they can affect things, and that has been discussed widely. Exactly what would you have them somehow magically do now, this instant, because of your impatience? Btw you can categorize all you want into the ‘disillusionment’ file, but you are firstly assuming that is the reason for certain things you have cited, and secondly there will always be some who are unhappy and want to make a move for umpteen reasons that simply suit them better. I’ll ask again, what are your suggestions then, that Liberty should act on immediately, to satisfy you?

          1. I get that Liberty have only been in charge a relatively short time.
            I get that liberty have been lumbered with a list of existing agreements that are hard to change.
            I get that Liberty don’t want to follow down a well trodden path of knee jerk reactions.
            I get that this whole problem is difficult. Very difficult.

            What I don’t get is people trying to suggest that nothing is wrong here. I have been watching F1 for 25 years. Almost every race in that time.

            I watched the Schumacher years of domination. But never have I seen a period like this.
            – Never has it been the case that someone like RB can spend Millions and still come up with a hopeless case. – Never have I seen a period where the front runners are so far ahead of everyone else.
            – Never have I seen a period where teams like Williams and McLaren face financial ruin (not to mention the others)
            – Never have I seen a period where the gaps are growing and the cracks are showing, but the next possible date for fixing it is 3 or 4 years away.

            Worst of all. Never have I seen a period where the disadvantage is so entrenched as to completely remove all hope from everyone other than the top 3 (or 2, or 1) teams.

            You can wallpaper over it all you like and say give them time. But F1 needs solutions now. Liberty need a good chance. But I am not sure they are up to the challenge. Firstly, I strongly believe (as do others) that the 2021 rule changes will become the 2022 rule changes. What will that be. 6 years after they took over? Oh man. And each year between now and then it will probably get worse.

            In the past, relative parity in the rules is supposed to bring teams closer together due to the laws of diminishing returns. But for the first time ever, this isn’t happening. That is a problem. A major problem. Maybe you don’t see the writing on the wall. But I do and so do others. People like Keith who normally don’t comment on the day to day are posting about the gaps from the front runners to the F1.5 teams. And the hopelessness of their plight.

            I get that Liberty are hobbled. But they can effect change. Look at the changes to the front wings next year. They can effect change if they want to. It’s just hard and they are struggling to decide what to do while keeping everyone on side. But they have had time.

            A decision made after 2 years is only a knee jerk reaction if you spent 1.8 years not thinking about it and then made a decision. A decision made after 6 years is 4 or 5 years too late. We are talking years here. Not days. Years!

            If BE was still in charge, he would put sprinklers on track or reverse the grid or some other stupid idea. But at least he would do something. Liberty right now have done nothing of note except talk. They are destroying their own investment though inaction.

          2. Watching 25 years doesn’t stop the effect of rose-tinted spectacles, @mickharrold.
            During your 25 years:
            – Ferrari – top spending team – had to wait until 99/00 to get their next championships.
            – teams went belly-up left right and centre.
            – teams couldn’t even qualify within 7%.

            I’m not saying everything is perfect, but I can see some slow movements in the right direction.
            And whilst my glass might only be half full, it is at least not a half-empty sieve.

          3. @mickharrold As I suspected, you have nothing substantial that you would do this minute other than more BE type reactions ‘because at least that is something.’ And those ‘somethings’ are what got F1 into the place it now is and that Liberty has taken on the task to try to rectify. What you call ‘inaction’ and ‘just talk’ by Liberty is exactly what they should be doing now as they deliberately try to correct some wrongs in a meaningful and long-standing way for the overall health and longevity of F1. The ‘decline’ of F1 if you will, started on BE’s watch well before anybody even knew who Liberty was. The new front wing for next year is about as far as Liberty wanted to go in terms of an attempt at a slight improvement on the racing without it costing a formidable amount of money and advantaging the most resourced yet again.

            Nobody, certainly not me, is trying to wallpaper over reality. I think if anything it is you that has convinced yourself that it was better before, and you haven’t even given Liberty the time to show us what their overall plan will bring, so you want to wallpaper over what they are trying to do assuming it is inaction. BE had 50 years and Liberty has had 2 that are still greatly affected by the BE era.

            The Schumacher years of domination were created by Max Mosley and BE and no driver before or since will ever have the advantages the likes that MS had over the rest of the field, by design, by BE and Max.

            You have seen a team spend billions in the past with hardly anything to show for it. Toyota.

            McLaren, that I’m aware of anyway, are not facing financial ruin.

            To say the next possible time to fix the performance gap is in 3 or 4 years is pure speculation as there is a very good chance Ferrari may be even closer to Mercedes next year. With stability in the Pu regs there is a good chance that the field might tighten before the 2021 major reg changes, not broaden.

            Liberty destroying their own investment through inaction? No it’s the opposite. Liberty acted immediately by making their plans clear, that include an effort for F1 to figure out who it is and wants to be and to get everyone on board, not just the big teams to which BE handed the power. Liberty has acted in every way possible within their power for now. They have set the tone for an improved F1. They have talked about all the things many of us have been talking about for years, and they simply cannot contractually instigate those changes yet, nor want to spring things on teams that would only keep the top teams with a lock on the top spots.

            Whether or not the teams will cooperate and to what degree remains to be seen but all indications are that they are on board with what Liberty and Brawn are suggesting. Not with everything, and that’s fine. It’s a discussion and a reaching for consensus on F1’s new direction for when that direction can actually be implemented.

          4. @mickharrold, no offence, but when you say that “Never have I seen a period where the front runners are so far ahead of everyone else.”, doesn’t that gloss over seasons such as 1996 that saw a similar concentration of success at the front, if not even more so (with wins taken pretty much solely by Williams and Ferrari, and with commentators saying that pretty much any driver could have won a race with the FW18, such was its inherent pace advantage)?

            As for saying “Never have I seen a period where teams like Williams and McLaren face financial ruin (not to mention the others)” – well, teams like Lotus or Ligier, once major forces in the sport, went into bankruptcy whilst you were watching the sport, and indeed at least half a dozen teams vanished between the start and the end of the 1990s, so it’s not exactly a new issue. The way in which you complain about the downturn in fortunes of Williams and McLaren makes me wonder if part of that is because that was the “natural order” when you began watching, and thus that is your idea of how the sport “should be”.

          5. I thinki mick makes some good points. 1996 is just one year. We are now into the 5th year into this new hybrid era and it is 100% guaranteed that nothing is changing. It has been 5 seasons of total mercedes domination with some ferrari challenges at individual races and some lucky or tactical wins for redbull. Nobody else has never had a chance. This is much worse than the total mclaren domination years, red bull years or the ferrari domination years. 99.9% of the races we know who will win and we know it is mercedes.

            It is not that we have seen 5 years of totally predictable wins and finishes. It also the fact that it is going to continue like this until eternity. There is nothing in the future that is going to change this. New aero at best can reduce dirty air and downforce levels but it will only make the gaps little smaller. F1 needs a total reset and at the heart of that problem is new engine. As long as this heavy, expensive computer engine that favours factory teams stays we are only going to get reruns of 2014 with small twists. At its absolute best case scenario we can hope to get mclaren and renault into division 1.5. That is the absolute best case scenario for the next 10 years! 10 years!

            To get better we need new cheaper engines and less downforce. We need lighter engines so we can have lighter cars so we can have less downforce without sacrificing the lap time too much. We need less downforce to prevent aerodynamics being money burning contest. And we need less downforce so we have less dirty air. And we need a budget gap. Even with its problems it has never been this bad as it is now. There is no other way. The changes that are currently coming are mainly cosmetic. I’ve been saying a long time that the big manufacturer’s will fight ross brawn until the bitter end so they get what they want. Watered down compromises, threats of leaving and stalling. It is all happening right now.

            And in some ways both ferrari and mercedes are right too. It is not right to change the engine rules just after 5 years after these teams have spent billions making these engines. But 2021 sounds reasonable-iesh considering how short lived the v8 were. If the v8s only got 8 years then the hybrids deserve not one single day more than that. Make the engine reg to be 8 year formula.

            But even if the current engines are really bad for f1 the costs for ferrari and mercedes have been immense. In f1 everybody are in it for their own benefit only. Merc and ferrari are no different. The huge mistakes that lead to this situation were done before 2014 when these horrible engine regs were approved and before 2017 when f1 decided massive increase downforce levels to make the hybrid engines look faster was required. Obviously we can not go back to 2013 nor should we go back in time at all. But f1 needs to go somewhere because where it is is the worst place it can be now. It is the longest era of total domination and even longer future of more of the same ahead.

          6. @robbie @coldfly @socksolid @jeremysmith6058 @fer-no65 @fer-no65
            Sorry, Slow reply. I don’t come on here every day. But I don’t think I am wrong here. But firstly, I still love F1. I still watch every race, qualifying and half of the practices and almost always live. But F1 isn’t without fault. Just because I love it doesn’t mean that I should stand by and watch it make bad decisions without saying something.

            Yes, in the past their have been inequalities. In fact, in the past there was even bigger inequalities and that is why the 107% rule was brought in. I still remember the Forti cars. It was said that they were called Forti because you passed them 40 times in a race! F1 should also always reward good teams, so inequality should be ingrained in F1. But it should be based on effort, not other things.

            Yes, in the 90’s Ferrari spent big and failed for a long time before success. But in that case, they deserved to lose for so long. They were inefficient and it wasn’t lack of money that was their problem, it was lack of leadership. When they fixed the leadership problem they also fixed the winning problem as well. And that is the way it should be. It’s also why Force India do so well despite their relatively small budget.

            The reason that I am so annoyed right now is because of the lack of possibilities outside the top 3. There are so many small things right now that when added up make a big problem because they entrench the power of the top 3.

            In the past, it was just lack of money , or lack of leadership (or both) that stopped the smaller teams getting there. But now, it is much more than that. It’s about ingrained power at the top.

            Take some examples.
            – Voting in F1 meetings. Almost every team votes the same way that their top 3 benefactor votes. This makes change impossible because teams don’t vote on what they think is right. They vote the way their benefactor tells them to vote. Given they need an absolute or 75% majority for most things, it is therefore assured that no decision can ever be made.
            – I call them benefactors. They might supply an engine, or suspension parts or gearboxes or whatever. But once you start buying from them, you are locked in. I don’t actually mind the customer system in theory. However like communism, it is only good in theory. In practice it doesn’t work because people run it and they want control and power.
            – If the customer system worked, you could buy suspension from Merc. An engine from Ferrari and suspension components from McLaren. But that won’t happen here, because the top 3 won’t allow it. I am not suggesting this system should work either.
            – Once you end up buying from 1 supplier, you might be allowed to rise high enough to beat their competitors, but never to get closer than that. They won’t let you beat them. And god forbid you decide to make a few components yourself instead so you can get ahead in the future. Well off to the scrap heap for you, because we won’t sell you the other components either or we will give you out of date ones to keep you down.
            – Drivers. The big 3 control at least 80% of the emerging driver market. It’s not until you are established that you have any control. Yes they invested in those drivers. But should it be this way?
            – Prize money from F1. How can I forget that one. So unfair that I can’t even be bothered explaining my thoughts here. I doubt you would disagree anyway.
            – Second Driver syndrome. I know this has existed for a long time, but it is still relevant. Even if we have 2 teams capable of the WDC, we only have 1 driver from each team capable. Ferrari and Merc chose their second drivers for a reason. So they can put their support behind their chosen champion. Even f the second driver was really good, it would take a massive push for them to break the shackles and be given a chance. It all adds up to even less competition at the top.

            To summarise my real problem right now. There is inequality right now. There has always been inequality and there always should be. The problem I have is that the inequality is now so ingrained in so many small ways, that I fail to see how anything but major rule changes can fix it. The Formula 1.5 teams are stuck there for an indefinite future.

            Take Renault. It probably doesn’t matter what they spend right now. They are in it for the long haul and waiting for rule changes in the hope that they can climb the ladder. Entering the top teams and challenging for podiums is out of reach. But they do have the budget to do so in theory.

            Take RB. They are actually part of the top 3, but not. They are in a 1 team race for Formula 1.25. Right now, they have pinned their hope on Honda. They are talking big, but who really believes they will close the gap? This is all despite them possibly being the best team on the grid. But they face a choice like McLaren faced. McLaren chose between Merc second team and guaranteed “Never 1st” status or Honda F1 glory and possible failure. They tossed a coin and lost the bet big time. They may never ever recover from that decision and that is sad. Red Bull haven’t made the same decision, because they are already starting further behind than McLaren were. While I don’t think they tossed a coin to find the solution, but I bet it felt like they had. Poor results with Renault Vs possible glory with Honda. Or failure. For one of the top 3 teams, that is not what I want to see when it comes to choices. Failure Vs Failure (and an outside hope at some success in a few years)

            For Honda and Renault. It seriously shouldn’t be that hard for them to close the gap. But it is. Ferrari got there after 3 years, but Renault and Honda seem no closer than before. I see that gap closing slowly, but not by enough. It just shouldn’t be that hard to close the gap. It’s another one of those ingrained advantages for the top teams. Small and justified (good work deserves results), but also unfair. No-one should command such a big advantage for so long. It is time to level the engine advantage a bit.

            I am not for knee jerk reactions. I was 100% against the recent “Make cars go faster” rules. I was against them because it was plain to blind Freddy that they were only going to spread the field and don nothing else of benefit. If I told you that the 2006 cars were faster than the current cars, I bet you would jump on the web to find out if it was true. You might assume I was wrong, but you wouldn’t know for sure. Which is my point here. No-one can see the extra speed of these new cars and it has affected racing, so they were silly rules. If you have to check the web to find the results, then clearly you can’t see it on the TV.

            Liberty do need to do this right. No more silly knee jerk reactions. It’s those reactions that are part of the problem. But like Ferrari in the 90’s, the real problem is leadership. BE knew he was going and signed silly deals on the way out to gain maximum selling price for himself and CVC. Liberty are just getting their heads around what to do. The end result is 5-10 years of a leadership vacuum. The top 3 teams have had and continue to have a field day with it and work it to their advantage.

            Liberty are lucky that they have a monopoly on the top tier of motorsport. In any normal business, taking 5 or 6 years to make a decision would end in bankruptcy or similar. But monopolies fail. Like MySpace or the Taxi industry. It can happen to F1. I bet right now, BE could tempt half the field and most of the circuits away to a rival competition next year. I am not saying it would be a good thing, but it is possible. P.S. I am no BE Fan here. But he was a shrewd operator and I respect that. The CVC deal put him in a position of making poor decisions though and well…. here we are :)

            I say it again. A decision made after 2 years is only a knee jerk reaction if you sat on you hands for 1.5 years and then rushed into it. They have made some rules around the front wings. They are talking about changing qualifying (Which isn’t broken). They can make change now and have proved it. They just need figure out what needs to be done and do it. Right now it seems they too are scared of the big 3 and are making decisions based on their thoughts. They are afraid of losing them. But fear doesn’t make good decisions.

            Liberty are taking their time and want to do it in one big move. Well… Blind Freddy could tell you that if you make major changes in one foul swoop, that the Big 3 will be the winners. They have the money and power to adapt. So in 2021 or 2022 or whatever, expect the gap to the big 3 to grow, not lessen. I hope (and do believe) that they will make decisions that in the long term help F1. But what are we looking at? 2025 before we see some competition? Oh man… Will Williams and McLaren still be racing in F1 then? I would prefer to lose Ferrari and RB in a hissy fit of rage because the new rules didn’t favour them than to lose Williams and McLaren because the rules were unfair to them and they were forced out.

            As for McLaren facing financial ruin. I am not sure I said exactly that, but I do see it as a possibility. The shareholders just recently tipped in more money and there is hope. But they are now on the Williams slippery slope. Poor results = less money. Less Money = poor results. Even poorer results = even less money. Even less money = …. well you get the point. And just in case you think I am talking about prize money, I am not. Look at the sponsorship bleed as well. They have lost all of their major sponsors.

            Back onto the Liberty thing. They can make good decisions quickly if they try. On the engine front, go to Mario Ilmor. I 99% bet he can help in a very short time. Then go to Dallara or Lola are whatever and get their help. Yeah, it will cost money. But did I mention earlier that F1 has lost 41% of their viewers in the last decade. What is that worth? How many more will they lose before they make a decision. And what if they make the wrong one! Brawn is trying to build a team in house which is admirable. But Honda anyone? It takes time and you often make the wrong decisions if you do it in house from scratch. F1 isn’t and will never be an F1 car manufacturer. They don’t have the advanced engine knowledge and CFD knowhow. So why try and beat the teams at their own game when you know you can’t? Get help from experts who do know how to beat them!

            OK. I am gone now. :)

          7. @mickharrold You’ve made your opinion very clear, but for me it has many speculations and assumptions to it. You’ve said a lot of things I agree with, but then follow them up with things I don’t. You acknowledge BE put F1 where it is today, and he had 50 years at it, and particularly screwed things up over the last 10, but you seem to have no patience for Liberty to take some time to improve things. You seem to want immediate action but no knee-jerk reactions and that can’t happen. Or that whatever Liberty does, things cannot change because of things that are engrained. I would say nothing is written in stone and the only thing constant is change.

            Anyway, a lot of mixed messages I find in you commentary but of course I respect that is where you are with F1 right now. I would only say that we really have no choice but to now watch and see over the coming years what Liberty and Brawn will do with F1. I personally can only envision improvement over what we were getting and still are from BE. Liberty will be going ahead with the daily work in progress that is F1, and even they likely don’t know exactly how F1 will look in five years, at this particular point in time.

            For me, speaking in real generalities, they must reduce their dependence on clean air, and invite closer racing so that the product on the track is improved, and that will hopefully invite more excitement and audience and sponsorship to the entity, and then they can take it from there. And that is how they have been talking.

          8. @robbie
            I agree with a lot of what you are saying. In fact almost all of it. However I think you are getting sucked in by the media in some respects.

            Everyone right now seems to say that increasing overtaking will help F1. They say we must allow cars to follow more closely and allow them to attack and overtake. I also 100% agree with this, but I temper that agreement. I only want it as a replacement for DRS. I don’t actually want overtaking to be easier on the whole. I want it to be slightly more than where it is now, but I want more natural overtaking rather than DRS assisted. Better aero will change that balance, but it won’t improve the game as a whole.

            I may sound confusing here. But imagine a world where cars can follow more easily and also overtake more easily. So now we have Max (for instance) running a different strategy to Lewis. But Lewis comes up behind him in his superior machinery and just overtakes him at will. What is the point in that? Now we have ensured that the fastest car wins every time. It also throws differing race strategies out the door. Why run a differing race strategy if you can’t also keep a car behind you.

            People seem to be focussed on overtaking as the big problem. They can overtake now with DRS. While I don’t like this and want it changed, I don’t see overtaking as the big problem.

            The big problem right now is the lack of competition. Actually that is still only part of the problem. I could live with that if I though it was only this year. The big problem is I don’t see it changing any time in the near future. That is why I am so incensed right now. I am hoping that 2021 or 2022 might deliver some competition. But in my gut I think the big change will decrease it for a while. Do I seriously have to wait until 2023+ to see some change?

            I get that BE (and others) wrecked it for financial gain. I get that Liberty haven’t had heaps of time to fix it. But the fact is that Liberty are in charge now and under their watch it has gotten worse. They need to take action now. The longer they wait, the longer it will take to fix it. The bigger the changes they make at one time, the more it plays into the big teams hands. They must make smaller incremental changes now.

            And YES. I am certainly not convinced that another international media conglomerate can succeed where another international conglomerate failed. Especially when I can see that IMO they aren’t taking the right steps. It’s all talk right now but no action.

            The worst bit is that most of the talk I hear doesn’t target the actual problems.
            – Let’s fix qualifying! You don’t need to fix it. It isn’t the problem. Focus on the big items please. Wasn’t it only 2 or 3 years ago that they tried it and everyone agreed unanimously that the current format was fine? Why are we talking about this again??
            – Let’s make overtaking easier (and spread out the field even further). Yay. There’s some smart thinking as well. This isn’t rocket science.

            These decisions are the exact same type of decisions that BE used to make and we all hated him for it. It’s time F1 started making some smart decisions. Not the same old dumb knee jerk ones.

          9. @mickharrold With respect to overtaking, I agree. I don’t want DRS and have never agreed with it, and I also don’t want passing to be easy. And I don’t think Liberty does either. I think they will not eliminate aero completely, and there will always be some negative dirty air effect to the trailing car, and that can be countered with reliable and sticky tires for mechanical grip, and the leading car will have those too, in order to show us the art of defending. I don’t think we have heard Liberty say they want passing to be easier, but rather that they want cars to be able to follow more closely, and that will invite more passing attempts rather than just sitting back away from the dirty air in order to preserve tires.

            I’m still a bit stuck where you say you want action now but no knee jerk dumb ideas. I think the smaller incremental changes you speak of are exactly what keeps the more resourced teams ahead. The plans for 2021 give all teams time to do a ground up rethink. These cars are just too problematic in terms of aero dependence and they’re designed for DRS as well. There aren’t incremental changes that can be made that will be meaningful enough for the two years we have left, although the front wing is an example, and it may help, but overall they need to get away from these BE cars and build cars that right off the bat are less disturbed in dirty air and do not have DRS built in. They’ll likely have more ground effects built in, as well as making much less wake, beyond this 2019 in washing rather than out washing front wing.

            I can’t tell you how to feel of course, but in all of this since Liberty took over I just can’t help but defend them for I think they need to be given their chance in the sun, and they’ve only just begun, and I believe they are doing everything they can, and things just have to take their course. Yeah it might take some time, but yeah F1 is a constant work in progress. I’m just glad it is (particularly) Brawn who is doing that work, and not BE.

            I don’t agree that it has gotten worse since Liberty took over, as we have at least had Ferrari challenge Merc, and now we will have this new front wing, so I really don’t see what more they can do for now, and I still haven’t heard from you what you would do in the short term, other than not change quali (which will matter little if they do or don’t do that) or not make passing too easy (which they haven’t talked about doing).

            I’ll ask again, respectfully, what would you do immediately if you were Liberty/Brawn?

          10. @robbie I think we probably both agree on more than we disagree on here.

            I do see way more hope in Liberty than I ever saw in BE/CVC. They are making some really good noises about wanting to do the right things. Brawn = brilliant decision.

            But Brawn is 1 man. He now heads up the lowest funded team ever in F1 racing. Even Marrusia probably spent three times what he has got access to in R&D before they went bankrupt. And he is going up against the likes of RB, Ferrari and Merc. Brawn is a brilliant Manager, but he isn’t a chassis designer or engine designer. He has employed people, but what kind of quality staff do you think he has at his fingertips. I haven’t heard of 1 big name joining his ranks. Not one person with relevant experience. I am sure with time he will get this thing humming. But how long will that take and will he stick around? If Brawn wants to understand engine rules, subcontract it out to Mario Ilmor. If he wants to understand chassis’, contract it out to Dallara. Then he has something real to manage. Experts.

            I will point out that Brawn’s budget F1 teams is still miles better than the BE 1 man calamity.

            So what would I do? Well firstly I am not in a position to fully understand the business. However.

            Short term stuff
            – I would be directing the TV team to show more coverage of the mid field battle. There are some really intense battles going on but we never see them. They are interesting too, but all we see is the cars at the front mostly and we only switch to the midfield for an overtake. Make them analyse the strategies more. This one is really really important. Liberty can’t change the funding agreements to the teams right now. But by increasing coverage of the lower teams, they give them more screen time and generate more interest. The end result is that these mid field teams will have access to more sponsorship dollars and this will go some way to righting the funding balance. And I think us viewers will be genuinely interested as well, so it is an easy win.
            – I would be talking to every expert company in every area. Engines, Brakes, Chassis, Tyres. I wouldn’t be going it alone.
            – I would ban the MGU-H. From what I read it seems to be where all the problems are with competitiveness. They are also the reason the cars are so muted. Bring back the sound and reduce the gaps! Solid winner there.
            – I would revert back to rear tyres that have less width. Dirty air is the problem.
            – Would do what they are doing with the front wings. (Dirty air again)
            – I would reduce the width of the rear wing. (Dirty air again)
            – I might ban barge boards and complex underfloor elements (Dirty air again) But I am not smart enough here to know if this is right.
            – Would bring in rules to try and remove any major influence that the top teams can have over their satellite teams. The Satellite teams can buy parts, but the benefactor can’t place undue force on their customers. They did this with RB/TR back in the day, but this influence seems to be eroded now.
            – Fanboost. Nah just joking.

            I am sure that I could come up with more if it was my job to do this. My major 3 focusses right now would be.
            – Changing the rules for the better in 2021.
            – Getting more money for the lower teams now. I would be promoting the heck out of them so they can access sponsorship and raise their profile.
            – Working out how to fix the funding rules for the future.

            I wouldn’t be focussing on.
            – New races in markets we don’t care about. (While losing races we do care about)
            – 18″ tyres. How is that going to help anything. It’s just more aero wake. Bad Bad decision.
            – Some kind of new Qually format. (It ain’t broken, so don’t fix it)
            We can do all of that once we sort the real problems.

            I will leave you with this comment from Sean Bratches of Liberty in response to them possibly losing Silverstone as a venue next year. It sounds a heck of a lot like CVC to me. It’s also this type of comment that makes me scared that Liberty will be not a lot better than CVC/BE.

            “We do value certain races highly and we do what we can to preserve racing there, but we are a business.
            “We are a public company and we have a lot of stakeholders and shareholders and we’re trying to marry what’s best for fans with running a successful business.”

            I am not Brittish, but I do respect that there must be a GP there. But what they are talking about is moving it elsewhere, but in the mean time we may have no Brittish GP for a few years! But hey. Who cares about that when we are running a business. Can you imaging the backlash if there is no Brittish GP. Even if it is only for a couple of years. And will people really accept a London street race over Silverstone. This is such short sighted thinking. To be fair, this is probably all just posturing and won’t actually happen.

          11. @mickharrold I agree that we agree on more than we disagree on, lol.

            Your comment about Brawn and his lowest budget ‘team’ came out of left field for me. Aren’t you making a lot of assumptions about the wind tunnel work that he and his team are doing? Why are you assuming they haven’t much money nor expertise?

            More coverage of the mid-field battles? Ok sure that wouldn’t hurt. I personally haven’t felt much of a lack there.

            You wouldn’t be ‘going it alone’ but would be talking to all the experts? I don’t see anyone going it alone and I’m sure all kinds of experts are consulted at all times.

            Banning the MGU-H. Yeah that’s been considered but the Pu makers have bucked that because that would require more expensive redesign of the pu’s as it turns out. One can’t just remove that and carry on, and one of the things Brawn has to do is respect the hundreds of millions that the teams have spent on these Pu’s. It may appear to some that he is doing a BE and bowing to them by letting them keep too much power over the regs, but it is also prudent business to placate them somewhat for all the astronomical money they spend. There’s also consistency in the regs as a benefit to keeping the MGU-H for now, and a spreading of costs over more time.

            Reducing the rear tire width and the rear wing width and banning barge boards sound like very expensive things to do ahead of a major regs overhaul for 2021. They shouldn’t cause all the teams huge sums of money now when they are about to do a rethink and redesign for 2021.

            Your 3 major focuses…they indeed are changing the rules for the better for 2021, implementing a plan for more money for the lower teams, and working out how to fix funding rules for the future.

            Regarding Silverstone. Bratches has not said anything that BE hasn’t been saying for years now. BE tried to move the British GP away from Silverstone a few times in the past. It seems the BRDC who runs Silverstone generally has always wanted to pay less for the F1 race but not be willing to upgrade the track and facilities. Not sure where the track and facilities stand right now, but suffice it to say the butting of heads goes way back. Liberty has made it clear they want to keep all the historic traditional venues, but obviously they can’t be held hostage by those venues either. I think there is a good chance they will come to an arrangement, and I certainly would not use Silverstone as some sort of indication that Liberty does not care about classic venues and only cares about their shareholders and new untapped locations. As he says, they have to appease the fans and run a business and look after shareholders too. I’m sure the ideal scenario for Bratches would be that they come to an agreement with Silverstone.

            We do agree on much, but I think where we disagree the most is simply the timing of all of this. And I still don’t see how Liberty and Brawn can go much quicker when they are forced by existing contracts to wait it out in many areas, and at the same time they want to be careful and deliberate and get all the teams happy and on board whenever and wherever possible. They only want a happier, healthier, and growing entity, as should the teams, and that is going to take cooperation from the teams as well. The teams are not just innocent bystanders that are victims of the state of F1 as it currently is, victims of BE if you will. They have been complicit in a lot of areas that have F1 sitting with necessary fixes that everyone knows it needs. BE has made many people in F1 millionaires and billionaires. It is time for them to give back when the whole world can see that changes are needed and it is no longer the BE era of greed at any cost. The costs of that greed are now there for Liberty to deal with, as it would have been for any entity that was inevitably going to take over the reins from BE sooner than later.

            I’ll repeat my stance. Let’s give Liberty their fair shot and some patience, for no entity was ever going to just come in and snap their fingers and make everything right. It’s massively complex.

        2. @MickHarrold
          Points well taken allthough you are painting a picture of doom and gloom aren’t you in all your posts ..
          I attended the race in Austin and thoroughly enjoyed it, it looked to me that the other 120,000 fans were having lots of fun as well …

        3. Ricciardo walked because he knew that he would never succeed playing second fiddle to Max Verstappen, Red Bull’s golden boy. When a driver realizes that, as Alonso did back in 2007, they walk away. At Renault, he will hope, that he can build that team around him and Daniel can only do that by beating Hulkenberg week in week out. Pierre Gasly, I feel sorry for him, all he’ll be will be another Bottas.

        4. Look, I am kind of sad to see people we have heard in and read about in the sport (on the radio, doing interviews or indeed driving) go too @mickharrold.

          But really, isn’t this just the shift of a generation? Look at what all these people have already achieved in the sport. And look at how many young talent is hoping to get in on the other hand. They have all achieved a lot more than most others who participated in F1. Maybe they just do not feel the need to push themselves anymore? That happens to everyone, doesn’t it?

          Sure, if we had a field of 15 teams with over 30 cockpits to fill maybe there would be a place for all of them to achieve something. But there is not. So shouldn’t we instead of looking back on them, look forward to what new engineers, drivers will bring? What they will come up with?

    5. @mickharrold Things have been worse. Keep the flame burning that allows you to enjoy the sport. Things turn around quickly in this game. Remember 2012?

    6. I can understand @mickharrold and the points made although they’re probably coloured by passion.

      F1 is in my opinion in its worst sustained state. There have been other periods where things have been bad for a year or two but this period (which will probably go all the way to 2022/2023) is the longest I’ve experienced where such huge imbalances have occurred.

      What worries me more is that the new owner is a listed company that is beholden to shareholders.

      In my experience, shareholders and boards don’t wait for years if profits are slumping. There usually pare down and sell off assets. I seriously doubt
      we’ll see Liberty last until 2021. They bought a turkey and have no idea how to cook it. Going to be some interesting reports from them this year.

    7. Very nice.

  5. They’ve never really had a talent shortage at Williams, and the team has always run on a fraction of the big manufacturers’ budgets. Williams’ problem, in my view, originated with a strategy failure back in the early 2000s. In particular, I think a couple of decisions that were taken back then – decisions that have been stuck with for a long time – proved fateful. I don’t know if they know, or care, much about personality theory down at grove, but there is quite a body of work that shows how sensitive an organization’s performance can be in response to personality investment. Like a blocking protein in an immune system, there is something acting as a brake on efficiency at Williams, and it can only be an interpersonal issue. The good news for Williams is that they are at bottom. They cannot pretend any more. If things get any worse the team would have to close or be sold. All the shibboleths must go. They must find the spanner in their works.

  6. Why are people surprised, this announcement has been coming for months, he has been on the road for nearly 20 years and wants to spend time with his family. give him a break and don’t blame Williams. Ill miss his great facebook videos with Karun Chandhok and Robert Kubica that they have done every race this year.

  7. it is called the “when-adrian-newey-leaves” effect. since he left Williams and McLaren, those teams became a joke and the same will happen to RBR when he leaves them.

    1. In Dietrich Mateschitz’s book, that effect is probably sub-titled “a.k.a. when to sell-out to Honda”

      1. Honda as its own team in f1? Well there is an interesting thought… as in 8 teams on the grid in 2025 when honda pulls out again due to lack of resources. But maybe we would get a fairytale 2026…

        1. Meant to say due to lack of results

    2. Claire, Sauber are faster than us, can you confirm you understood that message

  8. So who will be left at Williams for the 2019 season? At this rate, Claire will be on one of the wheelguns during pitstops with all the holes this ship has…

    1. It seems they were already using dummies during the Mexican GP; one even fell over when the car drove past ;)

  9. I cannot claim to have read every post in detail but have glanced at most. However whilst the gist is that most people/things are to blame one name that I have not picked up is that of Paddy Lowe. As I understand it he was recruited by Williams for Mega Bucks including a stake in the team. Since then what? the team has sunk to an all time low. Remember under Pat Simmons & most of the now departed they were 3rd in the championship. I seem to remember that Lowe, when joining Mercedes said words to the effect ‘Brawn was all right but I can take things to a new level’. Well since his departure I do not see Mercedes sinking into oblivion & after two years we still await his magic to be worked at Williams. I do not know the financial implications but if I were running Williams then Paddy’s coat would be hanging on a very shaky nail.

    1. If Paddy Lowe had the resources he needs, he would be a hero. This is a fickle sport.

      1. Resources is not the issue for Williams; they’re the 5th best-funded team (just behind McLaren).
        Paddy clearly hasn’t (brought) the magic .He joined early 2017 with a promise to focus on 2018.

    2. Neil Dockray, the team was 3rd for a while, but fell back after that – by the time Symonds left, they’d already slipped back to 5th in the WCC and managed to be beaten by Force India, a team with significantly fewer resources than them.

      In reality, 2014 and 2015 were freak events compared to where Williams usually were before that – after splitting with BMW, they were usually 6th to 8th in the WCC and, if you strip out the 4th place in 2007, their average performance as an independent team was 8th in the WCC.

      Even those brief moments of triumph were still punctuated by technical failure – the FW36 to FW38 all still had common issues that the team never really solved with the handling balance, and which they basically tried to mask with more downforce (part of the reason behind their persistent decline in competitiveness over that period). To me, it seems more like the current situation is part of the general long term decline of Williams that has been going on since the mid 2000s.

    3. The williams 2018 car is faster than the 2017 car. The main difference in performance is the drivers. Stroll is several steps slower than massa was. The current car may some issues but I’m not sure how overblown those issues are when you have 2 inexperienced money bag drivers in the car. If you compare stroll in 2017 to 2018 you see they have better car this year period. Paddy may not have got it all right but he has done good job. At least when you look at it from the outside.

  10. While we do not know …my feeling is that Rob and Paddy have different visions how to take the team forward…and Rob has decided its not going to be his way, so goodbye Williams…and I fully expect him to resurface with another team. I have seen nothing from Claire W that makes me full of confidence for the teams future…
    As said in a earlier post by Neil Dockray….Paddy’s coat should be hanging on a very shaky nail..(and now its the only coat in the office..)

  11. I hope Rob Smedley writes a cracker of a book in the next few years. I have always enjoyed his perspective.

  12. Williams Head Of Performance is like being the Saudi Arabian Minister for pork imports.

  13. “I’m thoroughly looking forward to spending more time with my family before deciding on future opportunities.” You never want to lie on your deathbed thinking: “I should have spent more time with my family.”

    1. I looked up the ‘spending more time…’ quote and found this on phrases dot com. Probably highly accurate…
      What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘Spend more time with my family’?

      A euphemistic way of describing being made redundant.

  14. Go to see your Baby in Formula E!

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