Ferrari’s new chief engineer Jock Clear admitted that Ferrari didn’t manage to clear up the mystery why its cars become victims of unclarified tyre problems and fail to deliver in the dying minutes of qualifying.
Ferrari seems to be dogged by grip problems since the Barcelona qualifying. Sebastian Vettel topped the timing sheet in the third practice session in Spain and then failed to repeat his previous best time in the all-important qualifying despite using more aggressive engine mapping and running less fuel while others found significant amount of time.
The Italian team tried to cure the issue during the post-race testing and left Spain in the hope that they found the solution. In Monaco a similar problem hampered the red cars. Vettel topped the third practice session and the first qualifying segment, but his speed faded and could not better his time despite running less fuel and track evolution and complained about sudden grip loss.
Asked by auto motor und sport Ferrari’s Jock Clear answered that the Scuderia have not found the root of the problem yet.
“To be honest, no. This is a balancing act to get all four tyres in the operating window.”
“You have to bring both the front and the rear tyres in the operating window.”
Clear suspects that Vettel had problems on the out-laps.
“You prepare your tyres over two laps in Monte Carlo. Seb had two warm-up laps in his final run, because he was not sure whether we could get the tyres up to temperature. However, it did not work out.”
The Englishman pinpointed the tyres as the hardest element to control on a F1 car.
“We have 1000 sensors on the car, we know every single detail of the car, the engine and the gearbox.”
“However, we barely know anything about the tyres. Only the pressure and the temperature. There are many other elements inside the tyre though. That is what makes the tyre management so difficult and interesting.”
“It is not an exact science. The feeling of the engineer and the driver plays a big part.”
On the subject when Ferrari can finally threaten Mercedes on a regular basis, Clear replied:
“The difference to Mercedes is bigger than we have calculated. However, it is smaller than in the last races of 2015.”
“That is the positive aspect: We close in on Mercedes and we are completely sure that the two performance curves are getting closer,” concluded Clear to auto motor und sport.