Jock Clear, the veteran Formula 1 engineer, has said that he has no doubt that Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has it in him to go ahead and live up to the pressure of fighting for a world title. The 23-year-old had made his F1 debut in Australia in 2018 and earned a rapid promotion to Ferrari in the subsequent season. Since then, he has already clinched two race wins and a total of nine podium finishes over the course of 69 race starts.
However, he is yet to finish in the top three in the drivers' championship, with his best result being fourth in 2019. Even in the current season, he is currently placed seventh after 11 rounds and is even trailing his new teammate Carlos Sainz by three points. Despite that, Clear, who now works for Ferrari, aiming to develop drivers in the squad's Driver Academy like Leclerc, Antonio Giovinazzi and Mick Schumacher, is convinced that Leclerc is prepared to fight for the title.
Verstappen made lots of mistakes but nobody’s telling me that he isn't ready: Clear
"My initial reaction is, ‘God yes, he is absolutely ready,’"Clear told the official Formula 1 Beyond The Grid podcast this week.
“You have to balance that with there is no substitute for actually being in that position where ‘Oh my God, I could win a championship here’", he added. "That is a different level of pressure. All I can say at the moment is he’s managed and coped with every other level of pressure so far," Clear explained.
"Yeah, he’s made mistakes. People might say, ‘He made loads of mistakes in his first year’. Yes, he did, but all drivers are going to make mistakes. Max [Verstappen] has made lots of mistakes in his earlier career, but nobody’s telling me that Max isn’t ready to win a championship," he stated.
“All I’m saying is, so far he’s met every challenge and been up for it and been strong enough to move forward from those mistakes. If he is put into a position where he can challenge for a championship, it is going to be against Max, it is going to be against Lewis [Hamilton]. It is going to be tough. You are going to slip up, make a mistake, drop some points," he further said.
Clear highlighted how Leclerc had coped with the pressure to win the GP3 title in 2016 and then managed to win the Formula 2 title in the following year, still a few days away from his 20th birthday. It was his performances through which he has cemented a place in F1.