Ferrari expecting 'desperately close' racing in 2022

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Ferrari senior performance engineer Jock Clear won't go out on a limb and offer a prediction on F1's pecking order in 2022, but the Briton does believe the racing at the front will be "desperately close" under F1's new regulations.

Grand Prix racing's 2022 rules were designed first ands foremost to promote better racing by improving overtaking opportunities, with the help of simplified aerodynamics.

But Clear says it's impossible to forecast the field's future running order, or where Ferrari will slot in, arguing that such guess work would prove futile given the complete lack of knowledge of how the Scdueria's rivals will fair.

"It’s not difficult to predict, it’s impossible to predict!" said the Ferrari engineer on Formula 1’s Beyond The Grid podcast.

"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.

"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 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."

Although he won't venture a prediction, Clear is nevertheless convinced that the battle at the front will be fierce.

"It really is impossible to say, and you might say you’re Ferrari for god’s sake, you should be fighting at the front," he added.

"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."

In addition to improving the spectacle on the track, Formula 1's new regulations have also been designed to help level the playing. Clear believes that there are no longer any "small teams" in F1.

"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," said the former Williams, BAR and Mercedes engineer.

"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."

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