Ferrari: ‘Red Bull doing something very, very clever’ with their RB19

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen, Red Bull RB19 from above. Bahrain, February 2023.

A view from above of Max Verstappen driving the Red Bull RB19. Bahrain, February 2023.

Despite securing one pole position to Red Bull’s four, Ferrari fear Red Bull are “giving up some qualifying pace” in order to focus on race set-up.

This year’s RB19 has emerged as the car to beat, fast in qualifying and unstoppable on grand prix Sundays.

Red Bull have clinched four pole positions, P1 in all but Baku where Charles Leclerc was quickest, while in races they’ve won five from five of which four of those were 1-2 results.

In sharp contrast Ferrari have managed just one top-three result, Leclerc P3 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the team acknowledging their car is better in qualifying than it is over a grand prix distance.

It has Ferrari pondering whether they need to “take a hit” in qualifying in order to focus on the race but, as Clear is quick to point out, unlike Red Bull who can guarantee they’ll fight back on the Sunday, for Ferrari it will be a “very difficult pill to swallow.

“So, we can’t afford to take our eye off the qualifying ball,” he continued, “but certainly, we need to fully understand how we can get the race pace.

“We have to take our hat off to the Red Bull and say they are doing something very, very clever. That car works very, very well in race pace.

“We might also conclude that to do so, maybe they are giving up some qualifying pace.

“That’s why we can compete with them because they’re not optimal in qualifying.”

He added: “We have a good understanding of where the issues lie [with the SF-23]. It’s quantifying it.

“So, in some ways, we would say, ‘OK, 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.

“That’s the process that we’re going through at the moment, [it] is 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.” recommends

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The driver coach for Leclerc concedes Red Bull have done a better job with their RB19 than Ferrari managed with the SF-23. Thrown in the DRS and the Red Bull is supreme.

“They are very, very quick along the straights, especially when the DRS is open,” he added.

“Again, we have to look at that, see what we can do better to shed that drag, because that’s free lap time.

“The driver doesn’t have to use too much skill to get from [one turn to another] as fast as possible. That’s clearly an area where they were very quick.”

Clear recently spoke about Ferrari’s “peaky” car and the team’s efforts through revamped floors to negate that.

“With a new aero package over the winter, we’ve taken a while to find the set-up,” he said as per

“This floor contributes to getting the car in a better window, as the drivers were reporting earlier it is peaky.

“We need to get rid of some of that peakiness. That’s probably the main focus at the moment, to make the car a bit more benign so the drivers have a bit more confidence.”

Ferrari scored just 78 points in the first five races of this season’s now-22 race championship, 146 less than Red Bull.