Williams’ head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley will leave his position at the end of the season after five years with the team.

Smedley was appointed performance chief at Williams in 2014, playing a vital part in the team’s brief return to form at the beginning of the V6 hybrid era.

In his five-year tenure, Williams finished third in the constructors’ championship in consecutive seasons in 2014 and 2015; no immediate replacements are believed to be being courted for the role.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Williams,” said Smedley. “The team has been through great change since I joined in 2014 and it has been a pleasure to have played a part in that.

“Williams is a very special team within the F1 community and I’m certain that with all the talent that we have here they will go on and do better things.

“The team will always remain close to my heart. After 20 years in Formula 1, however, I feel it’s the right time to reflect on things and evaluate what the next move is.

“I’m thoroughly looking forward to spending more time with my family before deciding on future opportunities.”

Smedley’s imminent departure is likely to foresee a series to changes behind the scenes at Williams, with the Grove-based outfit bottom in the standings after a difficult campaign.

The 44-year-old began his career in Formula 1 at Jordan in 2001, joining Ferrari three years later and formed a popular relationship with Felipe Massa as his race engineer for eight years.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “It has been a pleasure having Rob in our team for the last four years and we will miss him both personally and professionally.

“He agreed to join us at a time when our performance was low, and we are grateful that he saw the potential for us to turn things around at that time.

“During his time with us, he has made a significant contribution to the team through his role, but he’s also been just a great person to have at Grove, inspiring many with his enthusiasm and passion for Formula 1.

“Rob’s been in the sport a long time, so we totally understand and respect his decision to take some well-deserved time out to spend with his wife and boys.

“We wish him all the best and thank him wholeheartedly for the time, passion and fighting spirit he’s given to Williams.”