Ferrari’s decision to bring a bespoke package to the Italian Grand Prix despite the limitations of the cost cap is not just a sentimental choice but the right call performance-wise, according to Jock Clear.
Carlos Sainz took his first pole position of the season at Monza – with Charles Leclerc third and just 0.067s adrift of his teammate – as the Scuderia made the most of its low-downforce car at its home race. A number of other teams have adapted existing parts for the circuit characteristics, but senior performance engineer Clear says it became obvious in the opening races this year that Ferrari could be particularly competitive in Italy.
“I was going to say, go figure!” Clear said. “Have you seen how much red there is out in the crowd?! Obviously there is a cost cap and everyone has to decide what they want to spend money on, and nowadays it is a unique race and the only place where we would run absolutely low downforce.
“But given that early in the season we recognized that lower downforce was suiting us better, it would have been silly for us, not just from a sentimental point of view and not just because the crowd is full of red, but it’s clearly a circuit that is going to benefit us, and we knew that a few months ago.
“Doing a bespoke package for here was the right thing to do from a performance point of view and of course it comes with a Ferrari being on pole at Monza, and that is worth a huge amount to all of us, as motivation to crowd, the Tifosi, the drivers, there is nothing better.”
And although Max Verstappen was competitive enough to be within 0.013s of pole position despite Red Bull not bringing a Monza-only rear wing, Clear says beating the championship leader should not be underestimated.
“I don’t think there’s any alarm. To be brutally honest with you – and not wishing to blow smoke up Red Bull’s arse – a car that strong and a driver that strong, we are over the moon to be ahead of them. That is a real achievement.
“They are on song, that car works everywhere and they may not have brought a specific wing package for here, but we very much appreciate the competition they represent at every race and to be ahead of them is fantastic.”