Bruno Famin, Executive Director of Renault's engine department at Viry-Chatillon, has explained that he is not unduly concerned by the manufacturer's early-season reliability issues, having already brought in necessary fixes.
Formula 1 introduced an engine freeze ahead of the 2022 season, with the power unit specification locked in place ever since 1 March. Changes targeting improvements on the performance front aren't permitted, while there is a strict process in place for any developments on reliability grounds.
If an engine manufacturer identifies a reliability issue, and finds a means of solving it, a request is made to the FIA. The governing body then share the details of the problem, as well as the fix, across the other power unit manufacturers. If the consensus is that the grounds of the request are valid, then the manufacturer is permitted to make the desired change to their engine.
With Alpine's Renault power units encountering various issues over the opening handful of races, as well as a spectacular blow-up for Fernando Alonso at the pre-season test in Barcelona, the Spaniard is already onto his third engine of the year, and is on the verge of a grid penalty when the fourth unit is eventually introduced.
Famin: FIA processes show Alpine not the only ones having issues
But Famin believes that the reliability issues have been largely addressed, and has taken solace in the fact that the FIA processes mean it has been possible to see other engine manufacturers also having problems.
"I think everybody, from what I see and from what I read in the press, [is having some reliability issues]," he told select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com.
"We know, also, because all the manufacturers are sending reliability
requests to the FIA and it's public [knowledge] within the PU
manufacturers, then we see that we are not the only one having small
"When you are just starting a four-year 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 modification for reliability issues."
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Famin points to chassis changes as cause of engine issues
While the engine formula, from an architectural perspective, hasn't changed since 2021, the biggest development has been the switch to E10 fuel.
Yet Famin thinks it is the fundamental change of the cars, aerodynamics and tyres as a package that is causing the biggest problems for the latest specification power units, due to altered frequencies, vibrations, and impacts such as extreme porpoising.
"I think the new generation of cars with the new chassis, the new aero, is generating a different level of constraint on the cars," he explained.
"The cars are very stiff, very low. We have had some quite big impacts on the car [with] the problems we had (such as porpoising), [which] were not from the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) itself, they were from components around the ICE and, unfortunately, sometimes had some impact on the ICE.
"The ICE itself is very good, we have not got any single issue on the
ICE, but the fact that all the cars, and everybody is having more or
less the same problems, the impact is a new level of constraint. We are
"The problem in Jeddah with Fernando's engine, we already asked for a modification from the FIA which was accepted, and that modification is already in the engine for [Imola]."
Famin was asked by RacingNews365.com to confirm what the specific issue was with Alonso's engine at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
"We had a water pump issue, most likely due to an impact. The water pump failed and the engine over-revved," he stated.
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