Interview with Jock Clear: where is Ferrari?
Interview with Ferrari chief Jock Clear
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Where is Ferrari?

C lear: The distance to Mercedes is greater than we had calculated, but smaller than im Average of the past season and the last races in 2015. That is the positive aspect: We are closing the gap to Mercedes and we are also certain that the two performance curves will overlap in the future. The only question is when.

What does it depend on?

Clear: In our sport, it's not just about having potential. You have to prove it on the racetrack too. We did that to a large extent in the first 4 Grands Prix. Sometimes it was missing there, sometimes there, but always just a little. That happens to others too. In racing, you rarely have the perfect weekend. Look at Mercedes. Rosberg wins 4 times in a row, and Hamilton jumped from one problem to the next. For us it was true: The speed was there in the first 4 races. We made mistakes in qualifying and weren't as fast as we could have been. We paid a price for that in the race. Nevertheless, with the exception of the Mercedes, we were able to keep everyone behind us. The story only changed in Barcelona.

In what way?

Clear: Because we drowned out in qualification. That was a nasty surprise for us too. The car was much better than the training result. But at the crucial moment we didn't understand how to get the most out of the tires. We made Red Bull look good. And that put us in a difficult situation on Sunday. We had the faster car in the race, but we couldn't get past the Red Bull.

Has Ferrari gambled away with the strategy?

Clear: That would i don't say We were punished for the bad starting positions. If we start from the second row of the grid, as is normally the case, this question doesn't even arise. Look: Barcelona is a track on which you can only overtake if you have a significantly better car, significantly fresher tires or if the person in front makes mistakes. But today's drivers are so good that they are practically noneMake more mistakes. Not even 18-year-olds. So it's all about strategy. But we all rely on the same calculation models. Today there is no more shooting from the hip. Like 2004 in Magny-Cours, there is no longer the one person who says: Now we come to the pits. At that time Ferrari won with 4 stops. But only because they had the clearly faster car. The mathematical models always win. That's why it's getting more and more difficult to outsmart your opponent. We saw two duels in Barcelona. Ricciardo against Vettel and Verstappen against Raikkonen. We won one thing, Red Bull the other. Unfortunately, the duel we won was only about 3rd place.

Was it a mistake with Vettel on Ricciardo's three-stop strategy to react?

Clear: It was clear to us: We can only overtake one of the two Red Bulls with the strategy, but not both. Our speed advantage was not enough to drive them so far away to trick both of them with the earlier pit stop. Apparently the Red Bull command center thought similarly. Their decision to set Ricciardo to 3 stops changed our calculation model. So I can't say what we would have done had he stayed outside. Because then our strategy program would also have assumed different assumptions. Ricciardo shrugged and we were faced with the choice of driving two cars against Verstappen, or one against Ricciardo, who was still the more dangerous opponent for us. That's why we put the driver closest to him against him. And that was Seb.

And why was the duel against Verstappen lost?

Clear : The plan was to outsmart him with an undercut. But the window for the earliest possible second pit stop was not yet open. It was exactly on the lap in which Kimi was brought in. Red Bull was up a lap earlier. We assumed that Verstappen would make some mistake in the remaining 30 laps. Only once stood sideways out of the chicane. That would have been enough for Kimi. But the boy really didn't make a single mistake.

Is Monte Carlo a strategically easy race?

Clear: Only at first sight. It's a one-stop race, although 2 stops would be faster on paper. But you would have to be able to overtake. The tires decide whether it is better to come in sooner or later. And the gap you have with the next group. A good example was in 2013, when Mercedes deliberately drove slowly at the front so that no gap could open at the back for which an undercut would have been worthwhile. That only works in Monte Carlo. The difficulty is that you are totally dependent on what is going onhappened around you. If you end up behind a slow car in Monaco, you could lose 7 or 8 laps and your race will be over. Just like it happened to us with Massa. This is the general problem that many do not see when they sit on the sofa at home and say: Why did they do it that way? Depending on the route, you are always dependent on others to a certain extent. They help determine how you operate. You can't always take everything into your own hands. And then there is still the risk of a safety car in Monte Carlo. The rate is almost 100 percent. The trouble is, you never know when it's coming. And in that case you are also dependent on where you are on the track when the safety car is deployed. Jarno Trulli also owes his 2004 victory to the fact that he was in the right place at the right moment. Races like Monaco are particularly frustrating this year. I bet there are 5 or 6 drivers who say afterwards: If we had done this and that, we could have won.

We saw a similar one in Monte Carlo Picture like in Barcelona. The car had the speed, but couldn't convert it at the crucial moment. What happened there?

Clear: It looked similar from the outside, but it was a bit different. In Barcelona we had the speed in the third practice session, but only sporadically. The cars weren't well balanced. The third training session in Monte Carlo went like clockwork. We were consistently fast. Even after Q1 we were still confident. Seb was very comfortable with the car. In Q2 things didn't go that well anymore, and in Q3 nothing worked. With a time of 1.14.6 minutes in Q1 we should have ended up with 1.13.8 minutes with the normal improvement over qualification. Seb also felt that he could have driven the Mercedes times. Since we lost grip in a short time, the car's setup must have been right. We just couldn't get the tires into your work window. It's an art. Others had these problems too. Ricciardo only drove 1.14.1 minutes in his last attempt. He was out at the same time as Hamilton and therefore had to accelerate because he had no way of knowing whether Hamilton would not undercut him. Had Ricciardo not been on pole, he would have cursed like Seb.

Did you find out afterwards where the lap time was lost?

Clear: To be honest, no. It is a balancing act to have all 4 tires in their work window at the same time. You have to look to get the front and rear tires into the optimal window at the right time. The key was safe in the warm-up laps before. In Monte Carlo you usually prepare the tireover 2 laps forward. This second warm-up round, which we call the preparatory round, is critical. Seb even drove 2 preparatory laps in his last attempt because he wasn't sure whether we would get the tires warm enough. It didn't work either.

What happens to the tires: Are they too cold or too hot?

Clear: Don't laugh, but the tires are still a mystery. A black hole. We have 1,000 sensors on the car and know every detail of the car, engine and transmission. Only we have practically nothing from the tire. Just the temperature and the pressure. But there is a lot more going on inside the rubber. That makes tire management so difficult and so interesting. It's not an exact science. The feeling of the driver and the engineer plays a major role here.

Some teams are apparently able to keep the tire pressure below the starting pressure while driving. How do you rate that?

Clear: It is more important in the race than in training. Lower pressures give you more grip. For one lap of training, it's easier to keep the pressures in the window you want them to be. This is what the warm-up laps are for. In the race you are more dependent on the starting pressure. There are laws of physics that you can hardly override. You are a victim of the starting pressure, how much energy you put into the tires, how hot the car runs, what your camber and toe-in angles are, how the driver handles the tires. We don't believe in the stories that some teams can significantly lower the pressures compared to others. Maybe half a PSI, but not two. We think that's impossible. Each team has its own methods of controlling tire temperatures and air pressures. There is a lot of talk about clever ways to get the heat out of the wheels, but they're all illegal. The FIA ​​confirms that all cars are legal and we have no reason to doubt it.


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