The summer break was meant to be a reset for Ferrari after Max Verstappen won the Hungarian Grand Prix from 10th at a track where it is notoriously difficult to overtake. While Verstappen still had pole at Belgium, a grid penalty that put him 14th meant Carlos Sainz led the pack in what should've been an easy lights-to-flag victory. But yet another display of domination from Verstappen enabled him to kick start a win streak that would not end until the Singapore Grand Prix. At certain points in the second half of the season Mercedes have been Red Bull's nearest rivals on track, notably the Dutch Grand Prix where they challenged for a win. Ferrari looked lost before they cured their blip in performance at Monza, however Senior Performance Engineer Jock Clear explains to The Race that the team carried out numerous tests to try and understand the weaknesses in the F1-75 which cost them vital performance on track. “It’s been crucial to confirm that we’re going in the right direction,” Clear said. “And as soon as you have these question marks over ‘OK, have we gone the wrong way in set-up?’, you have to be quite brave and say ‘OK, you’ve got to understand where you are, you can’t afford to carry on [in the direction you were going]’. “It’s a bit like if you’re lost, the last thing you should be doing is just barrelling down the road saying ‘let’s see what happens later on’. No, no, no – stop and look at the map!"
Ferrari's performance in Suzuka shows they were on the right path
The team had to regroup following the disappointing string of race performances, especially as they still lead Red Bull on the number of poles this year due to their single-lap pace being superior. He explained: “You might say ‘well, that cost us some valuable race performance over those five races’, but it would be unwise not to do that because the future is always there. “You can never ignore the fact that you must keep on top of exactly which direction you’re developing in. “And we did that, we stopped, we looked at the map, and we’ve confirmed that we’re going in the right direction.” Even though Charles Leclerc finished the Japanese Grand Prix still echoing his concerns about excessive tyre wear with the F1-75, Clear believes they've got on top of the main issues given their closer pace to Red Bull. “It’s working and the proof is in the pudding. We expected Red Bull to be very strong [at Suzuka], Spa is a similar circuit and they gave us a bit of a whooping there," he said. “We were very pleased to be as close as we were. In fact we were very frustrated not to be on pole.”