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Ferrari must take qualifying 'hit' to catch Red Bull

Senior Ferrari engineer Jock Clear believes the Scuderia must trade Saturday pace to catch Red Bull on Sundays.

Sainz Verstappen Miami
To news overview © XPBimages

Ferrari must be prepared to sacrifice some of their qualifying speed to catch Formula 1 pace-setters in Grands Prix, according to Jock Clear.

The Scuderia have had a slow start to the 2023 season, with just 78 points and one podium finish from five races. Their race pace has become a cause for concern owing to high tyre degradation amongst other problems.

In Azerbaijan, on what was the cleanest weekend of the year for the team, Charles Leclerc did take pole position in both the Sprint and main Grand Prix, showing the one-lap pace of the SF-23.

However, Clear – who is currently working with Leclerc as driver coach – believes the team must trade some one-lap speed for better race pace.

Clear on Ferrari trade

"If you've got any answers on a postcard, we would be very pleased," Clear told media, including RacingNews365.com, in Miami as to why the team were losing so much to Red Bull in the race.

"That's what we have to try and work out. We have a good understanding of where the issues lie, and it's quantifying it.

"So, in some ways we would say: 'Okay, we're looking at what's going on in the race compared to what's going on qualifying, we can see some differences, maybe what we can't quite align is how those differences turn out to be so significant.'

"That's the process that we're going through at the moment: to identify what we can do, or what we can shift around in terms of our focus, to maybe bring that race pace back into line.

"Maybe, we have to take a hit in qualifying, but that's always a very difficult pill to swallow, because races are very often made in qualifying, so we can't afford to take our eye off the qualifying ball.

"But certainly we need to fully understand how we can get the race pace."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Red Bull playing games?

Such is the contrast between qualifying and race pace, Clear also wondered whether Red Bull might be deliberately turning things down on Saturdays.

"We have to take our hat off to Red Bull and say they are doing something very, very clever – and that cars works very well in race pace," Clear said.

"We might also conclude that maybe they are giving up some qualifying pace, and maybe that is why we can compete with them in qualifying, because they're not quite optimising qualifying.

"So this is the learning process with a new car, and I think both drivers would agree that, in Azerbaijan, we had a car that they were comfortable to race.

"We were disappointed to be that far behind the Red Bulls and not be able to take the challenge to them – but it was a good step forward for us in terms of our relative pace to the Mercedes and the Aston Martin."

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