Ferrari’s engine chief, Luca Marmorini, has said that the Ferrari drivers will use the engines they raced in Bahrain at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix and they have no worries about their reliability. This comes after three Ferrari engined cars retired in Sepang; Fernando Alonso and both Sauber drivers.
Marmorini said that analysis of the engine which failed in Fernando Alonso’s car during the Malaysian Grand Prix revealed, as expected, that it was likely to have been caused by Alonso’s gear selection problems and was not related to the last minute changes made in Bahrain,
“We believe there was a role played by the unusual way in which the driver had to use the engine during the race, because of the gear selection problems he experienced right from the start. Additionally, there is no connection with the problem the Sauber team experienced on the engine front at the last race, which we believe was down to an issue with electronic sensors.
“Each car has eight engines it can use per driver over the season and we plan our useage strategy around this. As a precaution, we opted not to use the Bahrain race engines in Australia, but they will be used in China, having concluded that they are fit for purpose, despite what happened at the Sakhir circuit.”
Marmorini’s calming voice comes at an important moment for the team as it heads both championships with a quick car, but some apparent concerns on engine reliability after Malaysia. Ferrari made changes to the pneumatic system on both Alonso and Massa’s engines before the race in Malaysia and changed both driver’s engines hours before the race as a precaution in Bahrain, both tracks with a very high ambient temperature where cooling is critical.
Shanghai will be easier on the engines, “I would describe it as medium load,” said Marmorini. “It features a very long straight, but nothing that causes any particular concern for the power unit and also, the ambient temperature is not usually very high, which makes life easier on the engine front.”
They also ran special gills on the car in Malaysia to help with cooling. “It is impossible to have a clear picture of how this side of the package is working, as there has not been a single race weekend not affected by the weather,” was Marmorini’s take on that.
The rules allow a driver eight engines to be used during the 19 race season, for all the practice sessions, qualifying and races.
The Ferrari drivers have used three engines so far, but can re-use them at various stages for races before moving them on for practice session use. Alonso has one less engine going forward, so will have to be tactical in his use of them and will not want to lose another if he is to make the most of his practice sessions and challenge for the championship.