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F1: Exclusive Rob Smedley Q&A Part 2

In the second part of an exclusive interview with Crash.net, Rob Smedley talks about the future Williams driver line-up and how the team can continue to grow
For part one click here

In the Williams environment, obviously you worked with Felipe [Massa] for so long at Ferrari and then coming here; have you seen him and his dynamic change coming in to a team like this?

Yeah, absolutely. I've said this before and there's no secret to it that he's much more relaxed. The team rallies round him so much more and I think he really enjoys that. He enjoys he fact that he is the more experienced driver, that's his role in the team and he has to deliver from that point of view. I was quite happy to see him have a decent race in Budapest but absolutely we have to get the monkey off his back if you like and get him in to positions where he's going to be back on the podium and eventually winning grands prix. He absolutely has the talent and the speed and the tenacity to do that – both of our drivers do – and that's what we need to make sure of. But yeah, I've definitely seen a difference in him. I've seen him more relaxed, I've seen him more comfortable in his own skin and when people have that and are like that then they usually deliver.

For you has it been hard personally to go from working so closely with him on one side of the garage to overseeing two sides much more and having to step back from him and let someone else take those reins?

No, not really. I wouldn't say you have to check yourself but sometimes … we worked so closely together for so many years that it's not strange as such, it's just difference. And you do notice that the difference is tangible sometimes. Definitely he's been very good and very professional about it, as we both have. My focus has to be to have both cars as high up the finishing order as possible. What order that is – as I've said before – makes no difference to me whatsoever. The focus is the team and the constructors'.

The drivers' championship – let's be honest, let's be frank – the drivers' championship, unless you're going to get the top spot, what does it matter? You could be second, fifth or tenth, it makes absolutely no difference to me. What makes a difference is the constructors' because that's what we're all aiming for as a group of people. So in what order they come in I don't really mind. We just get on with it, and on track it's absolutely as professional as possible.

Where's the biggest strength then of the pairing you've got now? Valtteri [Bottas] as well – someone you've been learning about this year – and is that one that you would like to see continuing through next year as well?

I would absolutely love to see that pairing continue through next year and that's the plan, obviously. I think that it's just a great blend of youth, enthusiasm – on both sides – and experience. There's very little conflict and they're both absolutely down with the fact that there's a common purpose, and that common purpose is to drag this team on the journey that it's on at the minute. It's not about what's happening today and tomorrow, but it's about what's happening in the next six months, one-year, two-year, three-year period.

That's the important bit and they both absolutely want to be involved with that along with us. I think there's a great blend of youth, of experience, common purpose, speed, racecraft… You've got one driver who has got a great deal of experience and you've got one driver who is learning on the job if you like. It's good to see and Valtteri learns a lot from Felipe while Felipe learns from Valtteri as well because Valtteri is a very, very talented racing driver. So even though he lacks a great deal of experience compared to Felipe there's still enough talent there that Felipe can learn from him. I think that's great; you've got two drivers that are pushing each other but also pushing the team.

On 2015 then, you're hoping for the same driver line-up and I assume focus on the car is more and more about next year. Can the gap to Mercedes be bridged next year? Or when you talk about the different phases will it have to be more like beating them in the odd race with a more long-term goal?

Well it's best not to talk about targets and talk about internal targets externally. What is the target? What in reality is the target in very, very broad terms? The target in reality is to keep moving forwards. So if I look at where the team is in Spa in 2014 and look at the gaps to the other teams and I look at our position in the championship then where do we want to be in 2015? We want to have moved forward. So does that mean that we need to bridge the gap to Mercedes? Yes, of course it does, and it would be absolutely naïve of me to say that it doesn't mean that.

That's part of what we need to do. And it's also paying maximum respect to the fierce competition we have around us at the minute – Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren – knowing that those teams have a huge resource, lots and lots of talented people, and trying to maintain where we are but move forward. Not an easy proposition to be honest!

But you believe that with the resource that you have then you can hold off those teams and it's not that this season was your big opportunity?

No, the resource that we have – not only the resource that we have but the way that we are increasing the resource as well, is very, very important. Doing it in a responsible way as a business and not just spending money for the sake of spending money, because that's what people do in Formula One. We're spending money in key areas and increasing resource in key areas. I believe that the team can keep moving forwards, absolutely.


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