Ferrari: “Not wishing bad luck on Max… but reliability will play a part”

Jock Clear, Ferrari's senior performance engineer, thinks that reliability will play a pivotal part in the season - and that goes for Red Bull as well.

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc
Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc

Reliability is perhaps one of the most important aspects of a Formula 1 calendar. This has also been true for this current season. Ferrari and Red Bull looked fairly near in Bahrain, but retirements from mechanical issues for both Red Bull drivers meant that Ferrari had a very nice cushion from the first race of the season.

Then, Max retired in Australia – and this just gave Charles Leclerc even more of a gap on top. However, Red Bull began to strike back, as their pace looked better for the next few races and the reliability much improved. Spain was supposed to be the turning point for Ferrari. It wasn’t.

Charles Leclerc retired from the lead of the Grand Prix in heartbreaking fashion, and Max Verstappen took the victory, with Red Bull completing a 1-2. Then he retired again in Azerbaijan, and his teammate Carlos Sainz did as well. Moreover, Carlos Sainz had already retired twice before, which just made it worse.

The Spaniard retired in Australia after a tough weekend where he complained of engine issues, and he had also retired in Imola, albeit from an incident. All of this means that currently, Max Verstappen has a cushion of 49 points on top, and Red Bull are 76 points ahead of Ferrari. This is not the gap on performance, and a lot of it comes from reliability issues.

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Jock Clear is pleased with Charles Leclerc’s performance this season

Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc in the F1-75 in Baku

There is still a long way to go, and if Ferrari can get on top of their reliability woes, then they certainly have a chance. And it is not as if Red Bull have been exempt from reliability issues. Max Verstappen has complained of DRS issues on more than one weekend, and last race in Canada, Sergio Perez retired from what was presumably a transmission issue.

So it is not out of the question that another mechanical retirement may strike Max Verstappen in the future. This is the view of Jock Clear, the senior performance engineer at Ferrari. Talking on the F1 Nation podcast, he said:

“We’ve seen, not wishing bad luck on Max or not wishing to sort of win it by virtue of DNFs and that sort of thing, but reliability will play a part in this championship later on in the year as well, for everyone.”

Charles Leclerc has certainly been fast this season, which is why he has taken pole positions in 6 out of the 9 races that have been competed in yet. But he has only been able to convert 2 of those into victories. But at least 3 of those have not been particularly down to him – Spain, Monaco, and Azerbaijan. Clear feels that Leclerc has not done much wrong this season – apart from the mishap in Imola.

“What we need to do is make sure that we go to every race and we do the best job we can in terms of performance. We make sure we get on the front row and put it on pole and keep the pressure on Max and keep driving as Charles has and as we’ve seen Charles drive all season very, very well.”

Clear thinks that the impetus is on Ferrari to get it right this season and keep the pressure on Red Bull. Silverstone offers Ferrari an opportunity for the same, and get back to winning ways.

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