After working with several F1 World Champions in his career, veteran engineer Jock Clear thinks that it is impossible to select one defining characteristic they all share. However, he believes that the one feature many of them appear to have is a certain mental strength.
Clear – Senior Performance Engineer and Driver Coach at Ferrari – has worked with the likes of Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel over the years, and has noticed that many champions are similar in terms of how they deal with things mentally, though this can manifest itself in different ways.
"I don't think they really have genuinely a common trait," Clear told the Beyond The Grid podcast when asked about the similarities between the World Champions he has worked alongside.
"If you'd like me to say, 'This is the ingredient that all champions have', I can't put my finger on that ingredient. [But] the mental strength aspect of it, I think is something that is common.
"And whether that manifests itself as extreme confidence, or extreme ability to bounce back, or an arrogance or whatever that way it might manifest itself.
"Certainly there's a mental strength that they all have, a self-belief that they all have. But I think that is probably a result of other things, if you see what I mean.
"I think they probably have other inner skills that make them good racing drivers, and then their objective brain just arrives at the point of saying, 'No, I'm good enough to do this.'"
Clear questions whether there is a key difference here in regards to the F1 drivers who don't have this mindset.
"Whether those that don't quite make it have somewhere in there almost a self-destructive loop, where as soon as they recognise that they have most of the talents enough to win, maybe some self-doubt comes in and actually they undermine their own ability," Clear explained.
"So I can't honestly say that that is the single common theme between all of them, that self-confidence is something that [they have]. Or whether, when you're as good as they are, you are going to be self-confident.
"But certainly [not many of them] were particularly guilty of not believing in themselves, or lacking their own abilities or lacking their own judgement."