Chief engineer Jock Clear says he is in no doubt Sebastian Vettel is 'up for the battle' in Ferrari's quest to revive its glory days amidst suggestions the four-time world champion could seek alternatives should success not come quickly.
With Vettel's arrival at the start of the 2015 season spurring Ferrari on to a vastly improved race-winning campaign in 2015, the Italian team has endured a relatively indifferent 2016 season amidst continued Mercedes domination and mounting pressure from Red Bull.
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Indeed, with Vettel and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen repeatedly speaking of their frustration at not being able to consistently challenge for race wins, ex-Brawn, Mercedes and Benetton engineer Clear understands the 'hurt' of these let-downs but doesn't feel Vettel's patience is thinning as a result.
“Seb is every bit the four time World Champion that you people know him to be and he is a very, very integral part of what we're trying to do to win another World Championship at Ferrari,” he said. “How patient will he be? He is a racing driver who is used to winning and passionate about winning – all racing drivers are passionate about winning – but as I say, he's used to winning so it hurts, it cuts him deep to be not being able to compete side by side with Lewis and Nico at the moment.”
Clear's comments come after Christian Horner – who helmed Vettel's four world titles with Red Bull – suggested the German could look elsewhere if Ferrari cannot give him the package to challenge for championships.
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Nonetheless, Clear is certain Vettel considers himself a contributory factor Ferrari's success and is working with the team to return it to success, comparing him to F1 legend Michael Schumacher in that aspect.
“He's up for the battle. He enjoys the fight, he said as long as we can go there on a Sunday and we can have a battle, even if it's not at the front, if it's with the Red Bulls, he enjoys racing, he just loves racing racing cars. He's a bit like Michael when he came back into Mercedes; he just loves racing racing cars.
“Now, yes of course he wants to win but he believes in us, we believe in him, he's part of this Ferrari team, he doesn't consider himself an outsider. He's part of this as much as we are and he considers his contribution will be measured by whether we make it or not as well.”