MARANELLO, Italy (Reuters) - Ferrari have recruited Jock Clear, the Mercedes engineer who helped Lewis Hamilton win this year’s Formula One world championship, as the last key element in the Italian team’s rebuilding after a dismal year.
Ferrari failed to win a race in 2014, their first blank season since 1993, while dominant Mercedes won 16 of the 19 grands prix and took both titles.
The sport’s oldest and most successful team have carried out a major restructuring, with a host of senior staff leaving and Maurizio Arrivabene now installed as their third principal of the year.
Arrivabene told a news conference at the team’s Fiorano test track on Monday that Clear would be taking the departed Pat Fry’s job as head of engineering with his arrival date still being negotiated with Mercedes.
“We respect agreements and regulations,” he added.
Clear, who also worked with Jacques Villeneuve at Williams when the Canadian won the 1997 world championship, will bring invaluable knowhow to Ferrari from Mercedes at a time when the Italian team are playing catch up.
Arrivabene dismissed speculation that former Mercedes technical director Bob Bell, who resigned in December 2013, could also be moving to Maranello and said Ferrari now had the right people in place.
“The team is there,” he said. “There is no great news to be announced, no surprises. We have to believe in the people we have.”
Spain’s double world champion Fernando Alonso has left for McLaren and been replaced by quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull, with 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen staying.
Asked what he expected from Vettel, Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne smiled: ”I expect the same thing from a German driver as I do from a Spanish driver. To drive the hell out of the car and win races.
“Their role in life is to race and to win.”
Arrivabene, who previously worked for team sponsor Philip Morris, said he was looking to the German to lead and motivate a team that finished fourth overall this year.
”No man is an island,“ he said. ”I am not a magician, there are no miracles to be made. We have to work as a team, this is the most important thing.
“I don’t believe in individual success. I believe in team success,” he added.
“Drivers become the stars of the show but they must be treated like employees. They must work as a team and help rebuild the team.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris