Alpine urge FIA to take action against Ferrari, Mercedes and Honda trickery

Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull will all have a more powerful engine in 2023, despite their being an engine freeze on performance upgrades.

Alpine executive director Bruno Famin has questioned “what is a pure, genuine reliability issue?” Following reports from Italy that Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes have all increased the power of their power units.

As of the start of the 2022 season, the FIA implemented an engine freeze on performance upgrades; however, reliability modifications are allowed.

By fixing their own power unit reliability issues, the three leading teams have all found power gains, with Ferrari’s 2023 engine set to be 30hp more powerful than it was in 2022.

The news comes from Gazzetta dello Sport, who have reported that ‘in reality the modifications to increase the reliability of the engine, even without a direct performance purpose, also helps the power.

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“And Ferrari seems to be the one ahead from this point of view.”

As mentioned, Ferrari have reportedly found an additional 30hp for 2023, whilst Mercedes have discovered an extra ’16hp’, with Red Bull having extracted ’10hp’ more.

The only manufacturer not to have seen a power increase is Renault.

With this in mind, it’s been reported that Alpine are ‘suspicious’ of the remarkable gains made by their competitors, given the five-year engine freeze that it currently in place.

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“There is no real margin to be honest because, by rule, you cannot improve the performance of the engine,” Famin told the race.

“What we can do is try to improve the performance of the car, and the possibility we still have as per the regulation is the packaging.

“For example, we can imagine changing the inlet line or exhaust line to allow our colleagues from Enstone to make better aerodynamics.

“This is where we are working. We’re working of focus in the use of the energy management, but here again we are going to be very limited as we’re going to have only one software version per year now. We are pushing like that, but it’s more on the on the drivability.

“We are going through the ideas to progress, which is very small margins. It’s not pure performance, it’s more drivability and integration/aero gains.”

With teams having found additional engine performance through reliability-based upgrades, Famin is “expecting” the governing body to come down hard on the loophole, but “in the future’.

“Behind the reliability issue you often have a potential performance gain, of course. The limit is not exactly always super clear,” Famin added.

“If you have a water pump issue, as we had in ‘22, it’s quite clear it’s a pure reliability issue, there is nothing to gain in having a better or different water pump.

“If need to change the material of the piston rings, OK, you will be able to have something stronger to have more performance, then where is the limit? It’s not obvious.

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“The process in 2022 with the FIA and the other PU manufacturers has been quite good, it has been transparent at least in that everybody was aware of the request and this is very good. It has been well managed by the FIA.

“Now I am expecting the FIA to be a bit stronger in the future. It has been quite tolerant in ‘22 and I think it was quite normal because everybody was affected by a reliability issue. We had 30, 40, 50, 70 requests from the different manufacturers. Then everybody was affected by this kind of problem.

“I am expecting the FIA to be a bit stronger in the future, but I have no new information.”