Ferrari were left surprised by what they deemed as Red Bull’s ‘Muhammad Ali approach’ in 2022, according to senior performance engineer Jock Clear.
The season did not begin in ideal fashion for the Milton Keynes-based squad, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both retiring from the season-opening race in Bahrain due to mechanical problems.
There were further reliability issues in the opening races, while the RB18 car was also struggling with being overweight.
Ferrari capitalised on this to take the momentum in the early stages of the title fight, but Red Bull soon bounced back and became a dominant force en route to winning both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships.
Clear believes that this ability to come back from struggles proved to be one of Red Bull’s key strengths in 2022.
How Ferrari learned from Red Bull’s strength
“I think that’s probably Red Bull’s strength this year, as they look to have been flexible,” Clear told Autosport.
“There were times when it was a bit of a Muhammad Ali approach.
“It looked like you’ve got them on the ropes and they just squirm a bit and come out and ‘bang’. And you are like: ‘Oh, my God, where did they find that?'”
Clear thinks that this is something Ferrari have been able to learn from in their own quest to return to the top.
“I think that’s just the experience they’ve had as World Champions. And that’s what we have to get used to doing,” he continued.
“This year has been a great help. We’ve been at the front, we’ve been fighting at the front.
“We’ve learned a huge amount this year and we’re on a steep learning curve, as are all the teams.”
Clear: Ferrari underperformed compared to Red Bull
Clear feels that Red Bull were able to maintain consistency throughout much of the season, while Ferrari and Mercedes both ‘peaked’ in performance at the beginning and end of the year respectively.
“Red Bull have obviously done a very good job of reacting to where they’ve seen the pressure, but not losing sight of the fact that they have to focus on just bringing performance to the car,” Clear said.
“And I think from our point of view, we’ve done everything we planned to do this year. But it’s a relative sport.
“So yeah, we have underperformed compared to Red Bull in the second half of the year, but you would say that Mercedes have left it all too late, if you see what I mean.
“Between the three teams, you’ve got us maybe pushing a bit too early on, Mercedes pushing a bit late, and Red Bull striking the right balance. And we have to learn from that.”