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GP Week : Issue 27
> F1NEWS> Teams move to refute engine upgrade fears FORMLA 1 team bosses have denied they are concerned about rumours surrounding the illegal development of engines. With Formula 1 currently under an ‘engine freeze,’ teams’power units may only be modified for reliability or cost purposes under the supervision of the FIA and with the agreement of all rival teams. Despite such checks, however, recent speculation has circulated that a number of teams have used the moniker of reliability to improve the performance of their engine. Ferrari was the first team to be accused of such activity, with rumours earlier in the season suggesting that a reliability upgrade had gained the team in the region of 25 extra horsepower. These rumours reached a peak in the run up to the Hungarian Grand Prix when Renault boss Flavio Briatore and lead driver Fernando Alonso suggested that the French manufacturer had stuck to the engine freeze more rigidly than their competitors. “In fairness I would say we have raised some concerns,” said Toyota’s John Howett. “We feel they have been handled very professionally by the FIA, so we don’t have concern. Most of the engine power evolution that’s been coming over the last five or six years is by extending engine rpm, so from a mechanical perspective, now with frozen rpm, it’s extremely hard to believe the figures that one hears quoted for the evolution, purely from mechanical changes with a frozen engine rpm.” Ferrari’s recent spate of engine failures has brought the question of engine development into stark contrast, as a once seemingly reliable engine has subsequently appeared to have been stretched to breaking point. The team has blamed the engine failures on a dud batch of con rods however, and was confident moving into the Belgian Grand Prix that the issue had been cleared. “I don’t sense within the sport at the moment a lot of concern about this issue,” confirmed McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh. “Inevitably, when you have some stability in this area, there is speculation as to who has got the best engine and who’s got the worst engine and therefore some people can grow concerned about that. I’m sure there is a spread across the engines. I don’t think that it’s huge and significant but as to the process, then I believe at the moment, by comparison to the various suspicions and concerns that we’ve had in the sport in the past, I think we’re in a fairly healthy situation.” Honda team Principal Ross Brawn agreed with Whitmarsh. “I think the process which is in place is pretty robust. I don’t suspect there has been too much going on. There is still an open point on ‘do you want to fix a reliability problem because you’ve changed something else?’Let’s say you run a different fuel and you start to have piston problems, do you apply for a piston modification? What’s the situation? “That’s a little bit grey but I think the FIA are aware of that and the teams are aware of that and they try to seek further clarification if they feel a modification might be linked to a performance gain from another area. Whilst we froze the engines, we didn’t freeze the oil, we didn’t freeze the fuel, we didn’t freeze a lot of the other peripherals around the engine. But I think the process is pretty robust – I don’t think there’s any bending going on.”