20 Nov 2012

Everyone needs a Rob Smedley

For those who don't know, Rob Smedley is a race engineer from Middlesborough, UK.  He works for Ferrari and is the man who talks to Felipe Massa during F1 races - constantly.

Ever since Formula 1 made the decision to broadcast pit to car radio during the TV coverage we have been able to hear Rob talking with Felipe during the races.  And boy does he talk.  Some drivers don't like being told what to do, or what is going on.  Kimi Raikkonen famously told his race engineer to, "Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing," whilst Nigel Mansell used to sing into his radio during races.

Smedley, on the other hand, has to control Massa's race.  At the start of a race (with the benefit of being able to see everything on TV) he tells Massa exactly where the other cars are and where to go, he tells him when to speed up, when to slow down, when to overtake, when to save his tyres. He even tells him he's a "good boy".

At the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix, Rob's message to Felipe was "Hold Hamilton as much as we can.  Destroy his race as much as we can. Come on, boy!"  After which Felipe crashed into Lewis Hamilton.

Rob controls and cajoles Felipe.  He is his ego, his race manager and his strategist.  Without Rob Smedley you suspect Felipe would just trundle round on track until he ran out of fuel, not knowing what to do or where to go.  Felipe would be lost without Rob.

Felipe Massa has a talent.  But it is a straightforward talent.  He can drive a race car to the maximum.  This, though, seems to take up all of his brainpower.  Rob does everything else.

Smedley is a talented engineer.  For a boy from Middlesborough to rise to his position at Ferrari is testament to that.  But it is his talent for nurturing that seems to excel.  He has become the yang to Massa's ying.

What if Stirling Moss had had a Rob Smedley?  Sir Stirling finished second in the F1 drivers championship four times in a row.  If he had had a Rob Smedley whispering, "Come on Stirling.  Fangio is nothing to you.  Destroy Fangio's race,"would he have come first?

Would Henry Cooper have beaten Muhammad Ali in 1966 if he'd had Rob Smedley in his corner shouting, "Left hook, right jab, left, right, to the head!  Come on boy you can win this."?

Would Mitt Romney have won the US election if Rob Smedley had been shouting in his earpiece during all those debates and speeches, "Obama is nothing to you.  You can beat him, Mitt.  Go on son. Slay him with the healthcare question."?

And would you, in your annual review with the boss, get yourself a better payrise if you had Rob Smedley shouting at you, "Tell him you want another 20% and a bonus on top.  You're worth it boy.  Come on.  Tell him you're the best.  Destroy him!"?

Surely you would.  And surely we would all be higher achievers if we had a Rob Smedley.