Frederic Vasseur reacts to Ferrari rumour which would’ve alarmed Red Bull and Mercedes

Ferrari suffered three engine-related retirements in 2022, with two of them having come whilst Charles Leclerc was leading.

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has rubbished rumours that the Italians power unit is 30hp more powerful this season, with the Frenchman labelling such speculation as a “joke”.

Whilst engine performance upgrades are currently banned under the current engine freeze, reliability improvements are allowed “for the sole purposes of reliability, safety, cost saving”.

The Maranello-based team’s power unit reliability was abysmal last season, with Charles Leclerc’s engine having gone bang whilst leading at Barcelona and Baku.

Carlos Sainz’s also gave way in extraordinary fashion whilst battling Max Verstappen at the Austrian Grand Prix, with his engine having quite literally blown a hole in the engine cover.

READ: Lance Stroll praises ‘evolved’ Aston Martin after being in a ‘hole’

According to reports, by fixing their reliability issues, Ferrari have also been able to extract an additional 30hp from their power unit, something Vasseur clearly disagrees with.

“The numbers, I don’t know where the numbers are coming from, but it’s just a joke,” Vasseur said.

It’s not just Ferrari who’ve reportedly made performance gains with their power unit, with both Red Bull and Mercedes having also supposedly gained additional engine power for 2023, albeit not as much as the Italians.

The rumours of the frontrunners finding a way to improve the performance of their power unit has seemingly concerned Alpine, with Renault having not improved the performance of their engine.

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Renault have simply been fixing their own reliability issues, which resulted in Fernando Alonso retiring from six races in 2022.

Alpine engine boss Bruno Famin isn’t surprised to hear that “performance gains” are being made; however, he’s questioned where the “limit” is on what is deemed as a reliability issue that should be fixed.

“Behind the reliability issue you often have a potential performance gain, of course,” said Famin.

“The limit is not exactly always super clear. If you have a water pump issue, as we had in 2022, it’s quite clear it’s a pure reliability issue, there is nothing to gain in having a better or different water pump. But if you need to change the material of the piston rings, OK, you will be able to have something stronger to have more performance. So where is the limit? It’s not obvious.”

READ: Ferrari warn of sandbagging as they prioritise reliability

Whether they have found additional power or not, the off-season appears to have been very successful for Ferrari, with their power unit so far looking “OK”.

“So far it looks OK,” Vasseur said, “but the reality of the track is a different aspect.

“A couple of issues the teams – not just Ferrari – were seeing was coming from track issues, bouncing vibration and we’ll have a much better picture in testing in Bahrain.”