Smedley: Massa has more freedom at Williams

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Williams’ head of vehicle development Rob Smedley has explained how Felipe Massa is feeling more relaxed and has more freedom at the British team than he enjoyed at Ferrari.

Smedley worked as Massa’s race engineer at Ferrari from 2006 until the end of last season, when the team opted to replace the Brazilian driver with Kimi Raikkonen. However, he found refuge at Williams, and Smedley followed suit ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix after being placed on gardening leave by the Italian team.

The two have forged a great friendship over the years, with Smedley treating him like a little brother, and the Briton thinks that the move away from Ferrari has given Massa a new-found freedom.

“He’s a very, very good driver and he’s been given the freedom of head space here to do what he’s paid to do, and he’s delivering,” Smedley explained to Autosport.

“I see Felipe now very relaxed, incredibly experienced, there’s a maturity about him and he carries that very well.”

For the first time in his career, Massa can be considered as the ‘team leader’ after spending his Ferrari years in the shadow of Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.

“He understands that the job he has to do here is not just about driving the car, it’s about driving the people as well,” Smedley said.

“He knows how to do that. He’s had some very good teachers in that area – I would cite Michael Schumacher as one – and now his time has come. He’s picked up the baton very well.”

However, Massa is by no means having it all his own way at Williams. Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas is certainly holding his own, scoring 24 points so far this season.

It all marks a drastic turnaround in fortunes for the British team which scored just 5 points in the entirety of 2013.

Marco Andretti to drive throwback scheme to honor 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario’s last win

Photo courtesy Andretti-Herta Autosport
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Marco Andretti wanted to do something really special to honor the 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario Andretti’s final Indy car win in 1993 at Phoenix International Raceway (now known as ISM Raceway).

So the third-generation Andretti, along with his team, Andretti-Herta Autosport, came up with a plan and design that will take longtime race fans back in time when it appears early next month for the Phoenix Grand Prix.

Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Oberto Beef Jerky Circle K/Curb Honda will be decked out in the colors of the car his grandfather won his last race on the one-mile short track 25 years ago.

“When the idea of a throwback livery celebrating my grandfather’s final win was thrown around, Oberto was ready to get to the drawing board,” Marco Andretti said in a media release. “The black, white and red car resembles many of my family’s race cars and was a big part of my life growing up.

“It’s really cool to be able to add one of my cars to that family legacy.”

The car is a virtual double of the legendary Newman-Haas Racing and Texaco/Havoline-sponsored car Mario drove on that celebratory day in the Valley of the Sun 2 ½ decades ago.

Various events and ceremonies during the April 6-7 race weekend will honor the senior Andretti. That includes several of his former competitors who will be on hand to celebrate with Mario, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, Arie Luyendyk, and of course, son Michael Andretti and grandson Marco Andretti.

Check out what happened on that day 25 years ago:

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