The new generation of 2022 machines have provided some surprises this year, and teams have sometimes been chased on race weekends where they expected to do much better.
But there is also a downside, with teams sometimes discovering that their performance is much better than they expected.
Ferrari is looking for answers to that situation this year, having recently struggled hard at Spa-Francorchamps before performing much stronger at Monza – despite both circuits requiring low downforce and good aero efficiency.
Jock Clear, the team’s senior performance engineer, admits that even the best engineers on his team don’t have a full explanation for why there has been such a varied performance.
“Honestly, if we really knew those things, we’d have the golden bullet,” he said. “It’s really hard to work these things out.
“You talk to teams that put in really good performances in a race, and you talk to teams that relapsed, and it’s a real mystery to unravel all this.
“That’s why this job isn’t easy, and that’s why it’s so intriguing for all of you [the media] and all of us guys.”
While Clear accepts that it cannot fully explain the difference between Spa and Monza, Clear says that as teams gain more experience with the cars, they will begin to have a much better understanding of what is happening.
“Honestly, we don’t know all the answers, and we still don’t understand exactly what happened at Spa,” he said. “We have a number of ideas, and we have clearly done something with them.
Jock Clear, Driver Coach, Ferrari
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
“We’ve come to Monza, a track with similar low downforce to Spa, but different, and we feel like we seem to have understood something of what happened in Spa.
“We may find out more later in the year, but we’re constantly learning.
“None of us know all the details, because it’s a relative sport, and it’s always a relative sport, and you don’t know what everyone is doing, there are a lot of areas where you have to give your best. almost.”
Clear doesn’t think the new generation of ground effect cars are particularly difficult to understand, but he believes the fact that the rules are still in their infancy means teams have a long way to go before they can fully understand them.
“I think it’s because they’re so new,” Clear added.
“There will always be a steep learning curve with a new development or a new set of rules, and everyone is on that steep learning curve.
“We saw that at the beginning of the year. Many people said: [to us]: ‘Why is your car so fast so early in the year?’ It’s a relative sport.
“Maybe we arrived to understand a little better and some people were just figuring out where their cars were.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
“That was the great thing about starting a year with a new scheme. There is, of course, the high performance aspect of your car package, but there is also an understanding of that car and the drivers’ understanding of how to drive it.
“With drivers from Max’s [Verstappen] quality, Charles’ [Leclerc] quality, Carlos’ [Sainz] quality, you expect those guys to be on it right away.
“They are people and they work on their talent every day, and they have improved over the year. Maybe they understood more.
“It all comes together at different speeds and different times, and in different teams. If it’s a relative sport, you can’t really know all the answers.”