After Alpine identified a water pump failure and collateral damage on Fernando Alonso’s Jeddah unit, the Spaniard will receive a new penalty-free engine for next week’s Australian Grand Prix.
The two-time world champion was running sixth in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and having a competitive race until he was forced to retire on lap 35 of 50, coasting to a halt in Jeddah’s pitlane.
Alpine assumed Alonso’s evening had been ruined by an engine problem. However, a post-race investigation revealed the fundamental reason of Alonso’s retirement, as well as its unfavorable consequences.
“It wasn’t the engine, but a water-pump failure and that led to a lack of cooling and to a host of problems, like the engine overheating, which triggered more troubles,” Alpine boss Laurent Rossi told Auto Hebdo.
“Fernando managed to continue as the engine was working, although in less than ideal conditions. But we preferred to stop him as the water pump was defective.’
“We’ve identified the problem, and hopefully it will be solved for Melbourne. It’s related to some brand new engine components that haven’t yet been fully validated, as is the case for all teams.”
“The good news is that it isn’t a structural or inbuilt issue. There are no doubts about the engine’s design and architecture as the unit is working as expected.”
Unfortunately, the severity of the problem has compelled Alpine to add a new Renault engine to its lineup.
“The problem is this component [water pump] is an integral part of the engine. The water pump ended up disintegrating and falling into the engine.
“If we had wanted to repair it, we would have had to break the seal. So the engine is lost to us. Even if its physical integrity is not directly affected, for us it’s one less engine.”
Despite his sad retirement in Saudi Arabia, Alonso feels Renault’s current model performs on par with its competitors.
“I think we are now on the same level as the others,” said the Spaniard last weekend in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
“We have been able to fight on the straights, both here and in Bahrain.”
“I’m happy with the performance,” he said.
“To be honest I think I could be in sixth or seventh place in the Championship, but I’m not there.”
“And it’s not because we don’t deserve it, it’s because we haven’t maximised the points. I think we’ve lost too many points.”