Jock Clear is a senior performance engineer working for Lewis Hamilton and previously for Michael Schumacher. He graduated with a B. Eng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
Born and bred in Portsmouth, United Kingdom, Clear and his wife Carmel have twins India and Saskia, aged 10. With a passion for race cars since he was young and his father being a rally driver, the choice for Clear was clear, and he has been in the industry ever since he started out of university as a design engineer.
Here are excerpts of our interview with Clear:
What does a “performance engineer” actually do on the track and does the race outcome rely 100% on the car’s performance?
Teams have engineers looking at all aspects of the car in detail, but the performance of the car on track is more than the sum of its parts. As a performance engineer, I am juggling all those parameters to arrive at the best overall solution.
The race outcome is a result of performance and reliability, but generally it is true to say that you can operate more reliably if you have a performance advantage that allows the luxury of not having to run at full speed and still stay ahead.
It seems like the F1 industry is very posh and glamourous. What is the real deal?
A huge commitment to the job! Wherever you work in the industry, there is no room for an easy life. If, like me, you choose a trackside role then the highs are probably higher. I have stood on the podium and held the trophy aloft, but the cost is a life on the road, with 60 flights a year, 120 nights in hotels and sometimes it’s all for nought!
What is the percentage of your career knowledge being qualification-based and experience-based?
I have a B. Eng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering, but I have learned so much in the 25 years since I graduated. The way I see it, your qualification tells us you have the capacity to understand the language of engineering, and the aptitude to work at it.
How did Heriot-Watt University’s education system help you with your studies?
I felt that Heriot-Watt University had a very human approach to teaching a very technical subject, which is rare. It remains one of the top engineering universities because it pursues quality not quantity, and remains small enough to stay in touch with its students, and the industries they are feeding into.
Since Malaysia promotes itself as a Grand Prix country and is one of the most famous spots in the world for races, do you think there is a high chance for Malaysian students to venture into the industry?
Very much so. We have a number of Malaysian students working with us from time to time due to our sponsor links. They are very well received, and generally considered to be among the brightest.
“Recognise what you are good at, and maximise that potential; we naturally enjoy doing something at which we excel. Get the best education you can and enjoy your time doing it.” – Jock Clear
For more functional articles, click here.