Alpine’s early season engine troubles triggered by porpoising

Alpine’s engine reliability problems at the start of the Formula 1 season have been a consequence of porpoising rather than any inherent design weakness, the team has revealed.

Alpine’s early season engine troubles triggered by porpoising

While the French car manufacturer has shown strong pace at the beginning of the campaign, both Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon have suffered their share of engine dramas.

Alonso has already lost one powerunit as a result of a water pump failure in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, while the fate of Esteban Ocon’s first unit is in doubt after it had to be replaced as a precaution ahead of qualifying at Imola.

Against the backdrop of a push from Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi for the team to focus on performance rather than reliability with its new 2022 powerunit, it has prompted some to suggest the team has gone too far.

But speaking ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the team’s engine chief said the issues t is experiencing are more related to the consequences of porpoising than anything inherently wrong with its design concept.

The intense shaking and impacts with the track that F1’s 2022 cars are experiencing thanks to porpoising have pushed some components over the edge, which is what has triggered Alpine’s early headaches.

Bruno Famin, who is executive director of Renault’s engine division at Viry-Chatillon, said the cause of the trouble was the way the car environment was so harsh in 2022.

“I think the new generation of car, with the new chassis and the new aero, is in generating a different level of constraint on the car,” said Famin, when asked by Autosport about the cause of the reliability issues.

“The cars are very stiff, are very low, and they have some quite big impact on the car. The problems we had were not from the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) itself. They were from components around the ICE, unfortunately, with some impact sometimes on the ICE.

“The ICE itself is very good. We have not got any single issue on the ICE, but the impacts are generating new levels of constraint that we are solving.

“The problem we had in Jeddah with Fernando's engine [water pump failure], we already asked for a modification to the FIA. That has been accepted. The modification is already in the engine for this weekend.”

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Famin was clear that Alpine was not alone among the manufacturers in experiencing reliability problems.

“All the manufacturers are sending reliability requests to the FIA, and it's public between the PU manufacturers,” he said. “We see that we are not the only one in having small reliability issues.

“But when you are just talking about a four years’ freeze period, I think you have no other choice than going to the best possible engine knowing that the FIA will not accept any modification, any improvement, in terms of performance But they will accept some modifications for reliability issues.”

While Alonso's Saudi engine is now out of action, Famin confirmed that the powerunit that the Spanish driver started the season with, but was taken out as a precaution for Saudi Arabia, was now back in the engine pool and could be reused.

However, the situation of Ocon’s first powerunit was not so clear cut as Renault faced issues in terms of how to inspect it without breaking FIA seals.

“We're still investigating it,” he said. “The problem we have with Esteban's engine is we would like to put it on the dyno again to see if it could continue. But unfortunately, it's not possible with the FIA regulations.

“We cannot put the engine on the dyno without breaking the seal. And our problem is that we cannot fully understand the problem without breaking the seal. That's why we are doing all our best in not opening the engine without touching the FIA seal to try to understand the problem.”

shares
comments
Binotto: Sainz has to manage pressure of frontrunning F1 car
Previous article

Binotto: Sainz has to manage pressure of frontrunning F1 car

Next article

Ferrari's Russian F1 tester Shwartzman to drive under Israeli licence

Ferrari's Russian F1 tester Shwartzman to drive under Israeli licence
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022
The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022
Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing Plus

Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing

It has been a long time coming but Audi’s arrival in Formula 1 is finally on the horizon for 2026. But it won’t be its first foray into grand prix racing, as the German manufacturer giant has a history both long and enthralling

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022
The seven factors powering Verstappen's 2022 F1 domination Plus

The seven factors powering Verstappen's 2022 F1 domination

After a tooth and nail and, at times, toxic Formula 1 world championship scrap last year, Max Verstappen's march to a second consecutive title has been the exact opposite. But has he really changed in 2022? Here's a dive into what factors have played a crucial role, both inside the Verstappen camp and elsewhere, in the Dutch driver's domination

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022
Why Hamilton is still the man to keep driving Mercedes forward Plus

Why Hamilton is still the man to keep driving Mercedes forward

Lewis Hamilton’s words in a recent Vanity Fair interview define both his world-view and his approach to this season: one of perpetual struggle against adversity. As GP RACING explains, that’s what Lewis feeds off – and why, far from being down and nearly out, he’s using his unique skillset to spearhead Mercedes’ revival…

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2022
The time lag of ideas that offers intrigue over F1's future fight Plus

The time lag of ideas that offers intrigue over F1's future fight

The pecking order in 2022's Formula 1 season may look pretty static as the season draws to a close, but the unique nature of the cost cap means that preparation for next season takes precedence. New developments are being pushed back to 2023 - which could mask the technical development war ongoing...

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2022
How one retro event could prove an alluring prospect for Formula 1 stars Plus

How one retro event could prove an alluring prospect for Formula 1 stars

While Formula 1 drivers taking part in retro events can prove costly, as Charles Leclerc discovered at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, the Goodwood Revival could prove an interesting experiment for today's stars. As the event's own Tourist Trophy race proves it means serious business, a race for current F1 drivers feels as though it’s in line with where the event is currently at

Goodwood Revival
Sep 21, 2022