Chief race engineer at Williams Xevi Pujolar is set to leave the team in order to take up a role with Toro Rosso, paving the way for Rob Smedley to leave Ferrari and re-join Felipe Massa next season.
As reported by veteran journalist Adam Cooper today, Pujolar, who joined Williams in 2011, will leave the Oxfordshire-based team in order to take up a role with Toro Rosso. Although Williams has failed to live up to the expectations of many in 2013 by picking up just five points, Pujolar was instrumental in the team’s excellent 2012 campaign when he worked as Pastor Maldonado’s race engineer. He was promoted to the role of chief race engineer this season, but it appears that a move to Toro Rosso is now on the cards.
This will allow Smedley to move to Williams for the 2014 season. The Briton has worked at Ferrari for almost a decade and as Massa’s race engineer since 2006. Together, the pair have built up a close working relationship, with Smedley telling the BBC how he considers Massa to be a “little brother” whom he has nicknamed ‘Phillip’.
Although moving from Ferrari to Williams may seem like an odd move, Smedley would enjoy a bigger role with the British team. He would most probably directly replace Pujolar as chief race engineer, meaning that he would not be working directly with Massa on the team radio as we have seen in previous years. Instead, it is possible that Pastor Maldonado’s engineer, Andrew Murdoch, would be working with Massa as his race engineer. Smedley would also be working with Massa’s teammate in 2014, Valtteri Bottas.
With the arrival of Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari, it was always thought unlikely that Smedley would be able to continue in his current role. Raikkonen is known for his affinity for minimal communication over the radio, something that has sparked many a humorous radio exchange in his time with Lotus.
Smedley has history with Williams, having worked for the team’s touring car operation back in the 1990s.
Cooper also reported today that Sauber’s head of track engineering Tom McCullough would also be switching team, expressing a desire to return to the UK that is thought to be Force India.