Jock Clear says speculation about Ferrari’s severe tyre degradation were a “misconception”, it was simply a case of they just weren’t fast enough in the second part of the championship.
Ferrari’s new all ground-effect aerodynamic F1-75 was arguably the pick of the field early in the season, only for the team to be let down by strategy errors and power unit reliability.
Their aspirations for a post-summer break charge were knocked back with the introduction of TD39 and with it the changes Ferrari had to make to their floor.
Spa was the race where the FIA’s technical directive came into effect, implemented to not only curb porpoising but also erase a grey area in the regulations that allowed teams to flex their floors more than the allotted 2mm.
Ferrari’s F1-75 became a tyre eater.
Clear, however, says that’s not how things played out.
“I think that’s a misconception to be honest,” the Ferrari senior performance engineer said as per Motorsport.com.
“I think what we’ve struggled with is ultimate pace. We’ve got two drivers who got used to 12/13 races at the beginning of the year where they could fight toe-to-toe with Red Bull.
“Red Bull pulled out a little bit of a two-tenth gap, which meant that we weren’t quite able to nail the pole positions. So we were playing a little bit of catch up.
“And, of course, then you’re trying to race a car that’s actually quicker than you, and that will just manifest itself in tyre deg I’m afraid. So we don’t think that’s a big issue for us.”
In fact Clear believes there was very little different between Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s tyre degradation at grands prix where the cars were evenly matched.
“Over the course of the year, when the cars were balanced, our tyre deg was slightly better than Red Bull’s,” he continued.
But at the ones they weren’t, the ones where Ferrari were off the pace, the drivers pushed too hard to try keep pace with the Red Bulls and that cost them.
That he understands, conceding that a driver never wants to acknowledge he’s in a slower car and settle for second.
“But now [at the end of the season] we’re suffering from Charles going out there and just trying to keep up with Red Bull,” Clear added. “And unfortunately, it’s a slightly quicker car.
“You just thrash your tyres a little bit too much, trying to hang on to it.
“And of course, it’s very difficult for Charles to say: ‘Okay, I can’t keep up, I’m just gonna let him go.’ He’s a racing driver. That’s not going to happen.
“So you’re just using a bit too much juice and you pay for that in the long stints.”
Verstappen won the 2022 title with 454 points, Charles Leclerc a distant second with 308.
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