Rob Smedley

Rob Smedley is a familiar name to F1 fans as Head of Vehicle Performance at the Williams Martini Racing Formula One team. Middlesbrough-born and bred, Rob was race engineer for Felipe Massa at Ferrari. You might have heard the pair as guests on the Chris Evans breakfast show recently. Rob is noted for his frank and funny radio transmissions to Massa, most famously at the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix when he was heard saying “Felipe baby, stay cool.” He is currently based in Oxford where he lives with wife Lucy and boys Frankie, six and Felix, four

Luxe people >>

My wife Lucy, my kids and the rest of my extended family. I travel a lot and live in a world that’s not entirely realistic or doesn’t really resonate well with the ‘normal’ things in life most of the time. As such I need my wife Lucy and kids to keep my head straight. She is my rock and my guide as well as being my best friend. We are in turn very close with both sets of parents and siblings. Family is a really important part of my life. I also have some close friends that I’ve had for many years who I really enjoy spending time with.

Luxe places >>

For a weekend > Tokyo. This is an amazing city, truly out of this world. Colour, noise, culture and a nightlife like you can’t believe. Lucy and I went there last year for a long weekend before the Japanese Grand Prix and stayed in the Park Hyatt. I’d always wanted to stay in that hotel since I saw it on the film “Lost In Translation” with Bill Murray. The hotel is just stunning. Pure luxury and a sense of serenity that is other worldly. Close by in Shinjuku there is a small area called Golden Gai where there are some of the best bars in the world. Tiny, tiny places with a hugely eclectic crowd and simply the best atmosphere ever. The place literally never goes to bed.

A long holiday > Perth in Australia. We have family there and so we love to go and stay with them. We tend to go in the winter around Christmas time which is their summer so it’s really nice to get some sunshine. The place itself is really cool and laid back with that whole surf and city vibe going on. There are beaches which are really perfect for ocean swimming and lots to do for the kids. I really love the outdoor lifestyle they have. Mostly though it’s an opportunity for some downtime and to be together with our family.

A treat > Saltburn by the sea eating fish and chips. Can’t do it that often but when we can it’s such a special treat. It’s really nostalgic for me and in turn the fish&chips are the best in the world! If I can squeeze in a pint of Black Sheep afterwards whilst looking out onto the sea then I’m even happier.

Luxe relax >>

Best food > I’m trying to think of something to make me sound sophisticated but the reality is my favourite food is house special curry with fried rice and a portion of chips from the Chinese takeaway. Every now and again on a Saturday evening when it’s not a GP weekend and we’ve got the kids in bed I’ll pop to the local takeaway and order this king of dishes! When we first met, Lucy bought me this exact dish one Sunday night and it was the first time a girl had ever paid for me – I loved her for it.

Best wine > I’m not really a wine drinker to be honest. Ask me about beer….

Favourite restaurant > Hakkasan in the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi. We visit Abu Dhabi every year with the F1 circus and Lucy and I always manage to sneak off to this place for dinner one of the evenings. The food is stupendous; a modern take on Chinese food with a couple of Michelin stars thrown in. We get a table on the outside terrace which overlooks the Emirati corniche. The dim sum is out of this world so we always share that along with other really amazing dishes. My mam and dad are coming to Abu Dhabi with us this year for the GP in November so
I’m hoping that they might babysit the kids one night so we can get to Hakkasan…

Perfect weekend > No Formula 1 racing but lots of time with my family. Start on Friday night with the boys for a few beers in London’s east end. Saturday morning at the local picture house with the kids watching a film (they sometimes put classics on from when I was my children’s age) followed by wandering round the museums or something to keep the kids entertained. We usually end up in the pub in Jericho in Oxford at around tea time and have a few drinks and something to eat before bundling the kids home and to bed. Sunday is all about chilling out together, the papers and eating a good Sunday roast with friends.

Downtime means > Switching off and remembering what is important.

Best telly > I really like either very well written dramas or very well written documentaries. I think that the depth of talent we have in Great Britain in the TV industry is remarkable and something we should all be really proud of. I thought that Shane Meadows’ This Is England was absolutely excellent TV and a real showcase for British talent. Red Riding was equally outstanding and did a lot of justice to the books. Really dark, emotive TV. The BBC and Channel 4 just keep throwing out better and better stuff.  I’m a bit of a knowledge-aholic too so good documentaries always catch my attention. Louis Theroux is a genius in the way he tells a story and takes you on his particular journey whilst at the same time allowing you to decide on how you feel about the subject. Not an easy thing for a film maker to do.

Best book > The best books I have ever read have to be David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet (1974, 1977, 1980 and 1983). He is an exceptional talent. It was referred to as Yorkshire Noir and I think this sums it up perfectly. I really loved his take on the Miner’s Strike in GB84. Incredibly powerful writing. Gordon Burn is another great British writer (he was also a solid North Easterner!). Happy Like Murderers was an outstanding piece of work. Its genius is that it takes you there and holds onto you. If I want something a little more light-hearted then Hunter S Thompson is the man. I sometimes have to break off from reading because I laugh so hard. Brett Easton Ellis (American Psycho, Rules of Attraction) is another good author to have in my briefcase for the long haul flights.

Best sounds > My wife finds it hilarious that I still love all the music from the late 80s and early 90s but it’s still the best era for music ever. Fact. Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, The Las, The Charlatans. Great bands that changed the face of music. This is the music that I grew up listening to and I have so many good memories from that time which I put to the music. I saw the ‘Roses lots of times and had a thoroughly good time doing so. Their first album still sounds as great today as it did more than 25 years ago (is it really that long ago?). I’m a little less ready to change the world today so I also listen to stuff like Florence, Bon Iver, Richard Hawley. If it’s good music I’ll give it a whirl.

Luxe shop >>

Best shopping city > London. You can pretty much get everything you want there on any budget. I can be in the middle of it all in less than an hour so it’s also really convenient too. I’m not a big shopper however and tend to buy a lot of stuff on the spur of the moment without having planned on doing so.

Favourite shop > I’ve got two. The first is “& Other Stories”. It’s a woman’s fashion store on Regent’s Street which does really nice clothes for girls. There is only one in the UK. The reason why I like it so much is twofold; it’s my wife’s favourite shop so if we are in there then she is happy and if we are in there it means I’m having a day off work. Fairly good compromise in my eyes.

My other favourite shop is Psyche on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough. I travel far and wide around the world and I can firmly say that the people of Middlesbrough are really cool. They have their own style and very much their own outlook on things. I think Psyche reflects that whole thing really well. They have loads of great collections whether you want to dress up or down and the prices are really good too!

Luxe retail treat >>

The mad sprees I talked about earlier. Not really sure why but I tend to get into a zone every now and again where I go a bit mental. Afterwards I feel a little bit guilty but the feeling of elation while I’m on the spending spree far outweighs it!

Best buy > A Smythson travel wallet. With all the travelling I do this has been the stalwart of my briefcase for many years. It holds my passport, loyalty cards, driving licence and boarding pass. I’ve had it for more than 10 years and it’s such good quality that it still looks great. It was actually given to me by my mate as a gift for being his best man so it’s not actually a “best buy” but you get the idea…

Luxe party >>

A memorable night out > Ah, way too many to mention. They shouldn’t be entirely memorable either in my opinion…

Perfect party > Surrounded by family and friends. Maybe a big house in the country for the weekend where we could all relax and have fun together. A really good drinks selection with plenty of real ale on tap. Finger food as there’s not enough time for formal dining. The sound system playing all my favourite tunes as a reasonable enough volume that we don’t all have to shout in each other’s faces but still loud enough to inspire a bit of dancing. Buzzing round the room catching up with friends and family and generally laughing. No one trying to hog me for elongated periods of time and an absolute ban on talking about Formula 1!

Dinner date > Lucy, my wife, who else? I’m actually a really private person and I tend to reserve myself for just my family and close friends. Lucy understands me better than anyone and we have a really close connection. I really love being in her company and we’ve always got so much to talk about as there’s always a million things going on. Sitting with her over a really good dinner and a few drinks is just perfect.

Your luxe thing in life >>

Family time.

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