Alpine: Alonso F1 engine failures are "luck of the draw"

Alpine Formula 1 boss Otmar Szafnauer says another engine failure for Fernando Alonso in Mexico was just the "luck of the draw".

Alpine: Alonso F1 engine failures are "luck of the draw"

The Spaniard was forced to retire from last weekend’s race on the 64th lap with a cylinder issue while running in seventh place.

The retirement cost Alpine priceless points in its battle with McLaren for fourth in the F1 world championship.

After the race, Alonso reflected on how many engine problems he has had in 2022, and how they always seemed to happen to his car.

“So again, this was an engine issue,” said Szafnauer when asked why there was a pattern. “And we don't have the same people preparing an Esteban engine or a Fernando engine, they all mix around.

“The probability of this happening isn't zero. So it can happen. But it is lower to always to have it on one side or the other. But, when I was at Honda, I can't remember how many engine failures Takuma Sato had, like 13 in a year, and Jenson [Button] had none. Zero.

“And the question always came up, we couldn't find anything to show that it was one side or the other. And at that point, the questions were always does Takuma drive it so much differently to Jenson, that it always happens on his side?

“I think it was just the luck of the draw. So I think it's the luck of the draw [this time].”

Pressed on whether or not there was a reason, he said: “Not that we can find. So it's not that we can see that, 'It's this set of circumstances, it's always on Fernando's side'.”

An exasperated Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1 Team, after retiring from the race

An exasperated Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1 Team, after retiring from the race

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Szafnauer admitted that he understood that Alonso might be upset: “Look, we apologise to Fernando. You always feel frustrated when you're managing a race, forward, backward. I mean, there was no risk whatsoever.

“And you know the points are in the bag, no one's pushing you. And that makes it even more frustrating. So I get it.”

The race initially went to plan for Alpine, with Alonso and team-mate Esteban Ocon crucially ahead of the McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. Alonso also gained a place from Valtteri Bottas, with Ocon jumping the Finn later on.

“Once we were ahead of them, it was just about managing,” said Szafnauer. “Fernando, for example, was driving at about a second a lap slower than he could have. And just managing temperatures, brakes. We knew it was going to be tough to get it to the end.

“And Esteban, on the other hand, did a really good job to get ahead of the McLarens.

“We initially set out to go on to the hard. But then we did see that the soft was possible too, we watched some others. We didn't react too quickly. And Lewis's lap time was really good on the hard.

“So we kept with our strategy, which would have worked well to the end. But Fernando had his cylinder issue, which meant he had to stop. We tried to get him to limp home, but eventually he couldn't. He had that issue for about 13 to 14 laps before we stopped him.”

The good news for Alonso is that he should have enough power unit elements in his pool to make it through the last two races without penalty: “This engine was never going to run again anyway. However, the root cause we don't know yet. It could have been a sparkplug, could have been a piston ring, could have been excessive knock.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Szafnauer also revealed Ocon didn’t have a straightforward race to his eighth place, either.

“Esteban in the latter half of the race started losing water pressure, so we had to lift and coast it,” he explained.

“We don't know what it is yet. But it looked like it was a small water leak in the water system somewhere, which is why you start losing pressure.

Read Also:

“And the best way is to stabilise it. If you can imagine, if you're boiling water, the pressure will raise in whatever vessel it's in, and you bring it down, you cool it down, less pressure, less leak. So it didn't cause any damage. But we don't know the root cause.”

shares
comments

Related video

Valtteri Bottas set for belated Race of Champions debut in 2023
Previous article

Valtteri Bottas set for belated Race of Champions debut in 2023

Next article

Ferrari's rivals don't think Mexico slump was true reflection of F1 form

Ferrari's rivals don't think Mexico slump was true reflection of F1 form
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Plus

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return Plus

Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

He has more starts without a podium than anyone else in Formula 1 world championship history, but Nico Hulkenberg is back for one more shot with Haas. After spending three years on the sidelines, the revitalised German is aiming to prove to his new team what the F1 grid has been missing

Formula 1
Jan 29, 2023
The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected Plus

The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected

The late Mauro Forghieri played a key role in Ferrari’s mid-1960s turnaround, says STUART CODLING, and his pretty, intricate 1512 was among the most evocative cars of the 1.5-litre era. But a victim of priorities as Formula 1 was deemed less lucrative than success in sportscars, its true potential was never seen in period

Formula 1
Jan 28, 2023
Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss Plus

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

OPINION: Fred Vasseur has spent only a few weeks as team principal for the Ferrari Formula 1 team, but is already intent on taking the Scuderia back to the very top. And despite it being arguably the most demanding job in motorsport, the Frenchman is relishing the challenge

Formula 1
Jan 27, 2023
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Plus

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2023
Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Plus

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? LUKE SMITH asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Plus

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Plus

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023