While the French manufacturer showed great pace at the start of the season, both Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon suffered from engine problems in the opening races.
Alonso has already lost a power unit as a result of a water pump failure at the Saudi Grand Prix, while the future of Ocon’s first is in doubt after it had to be replaced as a precaution ahead of qualifying. of Imola.
After Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi explained that the team would prioritize performance over reliability this year with the new engine for 2022, some have suggested the team has gone too far.
But speaking ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Renault ‘s engine chief said the problems he is experiencing are more related to the consequences of porpoising than anything wrong with his design concept.
The intense jolting and track impacts that the 2022 F1 cars are experiencing from that porpoise have pushed some components to the limit, which is what triggered Alpine’s early headaches.
Bruno Famin , chief executive of Renault’s engine division at Viry-Chatillon , said the cause of the problem was that 2022 car phenomenon.
“I think the new generation of cars, with the new chassis and new aerodynamics, is putting a different level of restriction on the car,” Famin said when asked by Motorsport.com about the cause of the reliability problems.
“The Formula 1 cars are very stiff, they are very low and they suffer quite a big impact. The problems we had were not with the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) itself. They were with components around the ICE, unfortunately, with some impact sometimes in the ICE”.
“ICE itself is very good. We don’t have any issues at ICE, but the impacts are creating new levels of restriction that we’re resolving.”
“About the problem we had in Jeddah with Fernando’s engine [water pump failure], we already asked the FIA for a modification. And they accepted it. The modification is already on the engine for this weekend.”
Famin made it clear that Alpine was not the only manufacturer to suffer from reliability issues.
“All the manufacturers are submitting reliability requests to the FIA, and it’s a public thing among the power unit manufacturers,” he said. “We see that we are not the only ones to have small reliability problems.”
“But when you talk about a four-year freeze period, I think you have no choice but to choose the best possible engine knowing that the FIA will not accept any modifications, no improvements in terms of performance, just some modifications for reliability issues.
While Alonso’s Saudi Arabian engine is now out of service, Famin confirmed that the power unit with which the Spanish driver began the season, but was withdrawn as a precaution before Jeddah, was now back in the field. engines and could be reused.
However, the status of Ocon’s first power unit was less clear, as Renault ran into problems as to how to inspect it without breaking the FIA seals.
“We are still looking into it,” he admitted. “The problem we have with Esteban’s engine is that we would like to put it back on the test bench to see if it can continue to run. But unfortunately that is not possible under the FIA rules.”
“We can’t put the engine on the bench without breaking the seal. And our problem is that we can’t fully understand the problem without breaking it. That’s why we’re doing our best not to open the engine without touching the FIA seal to try to understand the problem.”