Jock Clear does not think Ferrari’s troubles are related to supposed tricks some rivals may be deploying to lower tyre pressures in 2016.
In the last two races in particular, the Maranello team has fallen behind Red Bull and even further behind Mercedes, mainly due to a mysterious struggle in the latter stages of qualifying.
One theory might be that other teams are doing a better job with supposed trick technology in dipping crucial tyre pressures below the mandatory minimums set by Pirelli.
But Clear, an experienced and well-known F1 engineer who started work at Ferrari this year, doesn’t think so.
“Lower pressures give you more grip,” he admitted to Auto Motor und Sport, “but for one lap in qualifying, it is easier to keep the pressures in the window where you want them.”
Clear said regulating tyre pressures in the race – no matter the technology – would be much harder.
“We do not believe the stories that some teams can lower their tyre pressures significantly,” he insisted. “Perhaps half a PSI, but not two. We think that’s impossible.
“There’s a lot of talk about smart solutions that get the heat out of the wheels, but they are all illegal,” Clear added. “The FIA has confirmed that all the cars are legal and we have no reason to doubt that.”
As for Ferrari’s apparent performance dip, Clear also downplayed suggestions in the media that it is a ‘crisis’.
“The gap to Mercedes is bigger than we had calculated,” he admitted, “but it’s smaller than the average of last season and the last race of 2015. That’s the positive side.
“We are closing the gap to Mercedes, and we are sure that the two performance curves will overlap in the future. The only question is when,” said Clear.