Since entering F1 in 1989, initially as Head of Composite Design at Benetton, in his role as Race Engineer, the Briton worked closely with a number of drivers including Johnny Herbert and David Coulthard. However, it is his partnerships with Jacque Villeneuve and Rubens Barrichello for which he will be most remembered; following the Canadian from Williams to BAR and subsequently working with the Brazilian as BAR morphed into Honda and then Brawn.
Speaking in Brazil, Clear revealed that from next season he will be teaming up with another driver many believe is a world champion in the making, Charles Leclerc.
“It’s no secret that with a change of driver line-up, we, as a team, are just going to cut our cloth accordingly, as we say in English, so I’m part of the team, I’ve recently made a longer term commitment to the team, and as such, I will use my skill-set wherever we feel that’s best,” he replied, when asked about speculation linking him with the Monegasque driver.
“I have a lot of experience with young drivers,” he continued, “and a lot of experience with experienced drivers as well so with Charles coming in, I will help in any way I can to make his life easier, to ease some of the pressure and to make sure that we get the best out of Charles and out of the team as a whole over the next few years.”
Pushed a little harder however – like politicians, it is almost impossible to get a straight yes or no from people in F1 – he admitted: “It’s not all finalised at the moment but at the moment yes, I will certainly have a strong influence on his side of the garage and whether that is the job title or not we’ll finally decide upon but certainly I will be taking a closer attention to him than maybe I would have done on either of the individuals we’ve had – either Kimi or Seb – up to now.”
Asked how excited he and the team was to be working with the youngster, he said: Obviously we’re very excited. “We’ve known Charles for a while now. We’ve had a relationship with him over a few years, from his days in the Academy so he’s not an unknown entity for us, we’re not going into this completely blind and clearly in his first year in F1 he’s showed some great potential, he’s had some great races so I think everybody is excited about the prospect, everybody knows what kind of pressure he will come under, that racing at the very sharp end is going to be a very different prospect for him, but that’s a challenge for us as well.
“One of the comments that many people made was ‘is he ready?’ Well, we have to be ready as well, Ferrari have to be ready to take this step. It is a brave step that Ferrari has made and we’re all pleased about the fact that we’re willing to make that step but we have to be ready to give him the opportunity and support him in the right way and hopefully he’ll go on to great things and I think the relationship with Seb will be important. We need to manage that very positively and make sure the team as a whole grows, not just on Charles’s side and not just on Seb’s side.”