Alpine traces causes of F1 recent reliability woes

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In Austria, Fernando Alonso failed to start the Saturday sprint event after his car shut down on the grid.

At the time, the team pinpointed a failure of the ECU, which is a standard supply component or SSC used by all teams.

However, following further investigations back at Enstone this week, it was concluded that the issue lay more on the team side, and thus could not be blamed directly on the standard part. The team now knows that the ECU was not receiving power.

“At that point in time, we thought it was an ECU failure,” Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer told Motorsport.com.

“We took it back to the factory, and we were able to replicate the problem. And it wasn’t the ECU. It’s a box that powers the ECU.

“And so the ECU was fine, but the power box that powers the ECU wasn’t fine. And if you don’t power it, it looks like the ECU is dead. All indications were that the ECU had failed, but we didn’t know then that the power box wasn’t working. And it’s an Alpine part.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Meanwhile, the fuel pump issue that caused Esteban Ocon to retire at Silverstone, and which was repeated on the Frenchman’s car after the chequered flag in the Red Bull Ring sprint, was related to the SSC high pressure pump supplied to all teams by Bosch.

Alpine has now traced the fault to a fix that the team itself had to initiate earlier this year after several teams experienced problems with the standard pump, and specifically the electrical connection to it.

“The issue on the fuel pump is that we had a couple of early failures on the dyno,” Szafnauer explained.

“Therefore, we tried to fix those problems ourselves, as the Bosch standard issue wasn’t working in an F1 installation, because it’s a road car part.

“Several teams had this problem, and us and Ferrari got dispensation from the FIA to do our own fixes. Therefore we went our own route to fix the Bosch problem.

“And our own fix worked fine for the first nine races. We had no problems on the dyno, or on the track. Then something happened, probably we saw some different types of loadings for whatever reason. And they started to fail.

“Bosch also improved from the beginning, they’ve made changes to improve the electrical connection. So some of the teams used the Bosch improvement, and two of the teams used their own improvement.

“We’re working on a new fix ourselves for France, and at the same time exploring what Bosch have recently done to fix their initial problem.”

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