Ferrari’s veteran engineer Jock Clear believes the level of competition going into the 2022 Formula One season will be ‘desperately close’.
In 2022 Formula 1 will introduce wide-ranging changes to the technical regulations, regarded as among the biggest in history, while it will compete under a budget cap for only the second year.
The changes are aimed at producing closer competition while enhancing the quality of the racing.
Clear, Ferrari’s Senior Performance engineer, has been involved in Formula 1 since the late 1990s, spending prominent spells at Williams, BAR/Brawn/Mercedes, prior to joining Ferrari in 2015.
“It’s not difficult to predict, it’s impossible to predict and actually, you’re asking me to go out of my comfort zone and I spend a lot of my time talking to drivers, F1 drivers and our academy drivers about objective expectations,” Clear said on Formula 1’s Beyond The Grid podcast.
“You can’t know what the opposition are doing, you have no idea what the other drivers are capable of. You only know what you’re capable of. You can only influence what you can do.”
“Where that puts us in the pecking order is really depends on technically what other people come up with and what we come up with. And I have no idea what other people are going to come up with.
“It really is impossible to say, and you might say you’re Ferrari for god’s sake, you should be fighting at the front.
“But you can’t know whether that’s going to happen, if you look at where all the teams are, you have to just have huge respect for all of them at the moment. They’re very, very capable and that’s a testament to the sport itself, that’s how it should be.
“Teams are not separated by seconds anymore. It’s not like the guys back in P20 are five seconds off the pace, the people in P20 are 1.4 seconds off the pace and everybody is in between and that means for the want of a tenth, you can be P5 or P10.
“So, for the want of a tenth next year I think you could be seeing the difference between P1 and P5 because I think the two frontrunners will have been caught up and will be in that mix for sure, but it’s going to be desperately close.”
Clear also expressed how the level of professionalism within the competition means that no team on the grid should be overlooked going forward.
“In one breath we’re all working very hard with F1, with Ross [Brawn], and with Stefano [Domenicalli] to get the sport to get to a point where it is competitive at all levels, that you can come in as an Aston Martin, as an AlphaTauri and can compete with the frontrunners,” he added.
“That’s what we want, that’s what we’ve been working towards, so I can’t then sit here as a Ferrari guy and say obviously, we should be miles better than them because they’re small teams.
“No, there are no small teams now because that’s how we’ve created the sport, that’s what we wanted and that’s what we’ve got, go figure. And we should all embrace that.
“In embracing that, I’ve got to say if we’re a tenth and a half, two tenths off, we could be the fifth quickest car and that’s not where we want to be, but if we’ve got it right by a tenth and a half we’ve got pole and that is where we want to be, and that’s how tight I think it’s going to be.”