After a perfect start to the season by Ferrari, Red Bull gradually came back into the race before closing the gap and then surpassing the Italians. After being 49 points behind, the Austrian team ended the season with a 205-point lead. For Jock Clear, the Scuderia’s performance engineer, Red Bull’s ability to fight back reminded him of Muhammad Ali in the boxing ring.
Everything started well for Ferrari. Charles Leclerc had won two of the first three Grand Prix of the season and the Scuderia thought it was back on top and fighting for the world championship. But after sorting out their problems at the start of the year, Red Bull finally came back, only to see Max Verstappen crowned for the second time in a row and with no real competition. For Jock Clear, the Austrian team has shown more flexibility this season.
“It was a bit like Muhammad Ali…”
“I think that’s probably Red Bull’s strong point this year, they seem to have been flexible. At times it was a bit like Muhammad Ali. You felt like you had them on the ropes but they’d wriggle out, get loose and boom. And you’d think, ‘Oh my God, how did they do that’,” said the Ferrari performance engineer
“I think it’s just because of their experience as World Champions. We have to get used to that. This year has been a big help, we have been driving and fighting at the front. We’ve learned a lot this year, our learning curve is steep, as it is for all teams.”
“We did everything we set out to do this year”
For Jock Clear, Red Bull’s success is above all based on a very good management of expenses:
“The difficulty is to know where you are going to spend your money as efficiently as possible. It takes a bit of planning. Of course, as you plan, you learn that you may have made some bad decisions by going down the current path.
“Red Bull obviously did a very good job of reacting to the pressure but not losing sight of the fact that they had to focus on improving the performance of the car. I think from our point of view we have done everything we set out to do this year.
“But [F1] is a relative sport. So yes, we underperformed compared to Red Bull in the second half of the year, but you could say Mercedes woke up late, if you know what I mean.
“Between the three teams, maybe we attacked a little bit too early, Mercedes a little bit too late, and Red Bull found the right balance. We have to learn from that.”