Ferrari: “Maybe we have to take a hit in qualifying” to improve Sunday performance

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Ferrari Senior Performance Engineer Jock Clear says Ferrari has to sacrifice outright speed over a lap for race pace to catch Red Bull.

The Italian team have endured a lacklustre start to the season accumulating 78 points and sit fourth in the championship behind Mercedes and Aston Martin.

“If you’ve got any answers on a postcard, we would be very pleased,” Clear joked in Miami as to why the team were losing so much to Red Bull in the race.

“That’s what we have to try and work out. We have a good understanding of where the issues lie, and it’s quantifying it.

“So, in some ways we would say: ‘Okay, we’re looking at what’s going on in the race compared to what’s going on qualifying, we can see some differences, maybe what we can’t quite align is how those differences turn out to be so significant.’

“That’s the process that we’re going through at the moment: to identify what we can do, or what we can shift around in terms of our focus, to maybe bring that race pace back into line.

Ferrari have only achieved a single podium this year through Charles Leclerc in 2023 in Azerbaijan.

The Monegasque drove to two pole positions for the Sprint and Grand Prix in Baku showing the SF-23 does have pure speed in qualifying.

However, should qualifying speed be sacrificed for a better Sunday? It’s something Ferrari are considering.

“Maybe we have to take a hit in qualifying, but that’s always a very difficult pill to swallow, because races are very often made in qualifying, so we can’t afford to take our eye off the qualifying ball.

“But certainly we need to fully understand how we can get the race pace.”

Ferrari have tended to be a long stronger compared to the reigning champions on a Saturday afternoon, but the RB19 heads off into another planet on a Sunday.

“We have to take our hat off to Red Bull and say they are doing something very, very clever – and that cars works very well in race pace,” Clear said.

“We might also conclude that maybe they are giving up some qualifying pace, and maybe that is why we can compete with them in qualifying, because they’re not quite optimising qualifying.

“So this is the learning process with a new car, and I think both drivers would agree that, in Azerbaijan, we had a car that they were comfortable to race.

“We were disappointed to be that far behind the Red Bulls and not be able to take the challenge to them – but it was a good step forward for us in terms of our relative pace to the Mercedes and the Aston Martin.”