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GP Week : Issue 160
The outcome of last weekend’s European Grand Prix in Valencia was shaped by two alternator failures for Renault engine customers: race-leader Sebastian Vettel, whose RB8 stopped on track on lap 34, and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, who retired from P2 on lap 41. “On both Sebastian [Vettel] and Romain [Grosjean]’s car, the alternator – which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy to power the engine and ancillary systems – failed,” deputy managing director Rob White explained. “In both cases the failure of the alternator cut the electrical supply, causing the engine to shut down very quickly and stop the car on the track. It appears that both alternators overheated. “We've checked over the parts thoroughly now and it seems that there were no obvious reasons for the failure, so we are conducting further tests on the dyno at Viry to replicate conditions and double checking the findings.” White admitted that his team had seen similar failures in the past, but only when components were being deliberately stress-tested to destruction during pre-season testing. The objective was to find safe operating limits for the various engine components, and those limits have been adhered to since they were established. While the cause of the overheating is a mystery for the moment, White was keen to assure Renault’s engine customers that precautionary measures were being put into place to prevent similar faults occurring at Silverstone in a week’s time. “We are looking at several solutions,” he said. “The first is to use another batch of alternators for Silverstone across all our clients, or a slightly modified design. We are also looking at returning to an older specification of alternator from 2011. Then we are working across all our partner teams to potentially introduce some mechanical and cooling solutions, or changing a few settings on acceleration maps so the running is less severe. “All of these will be in evaluated between now and Silverstone, plus we will also look at everything after Friday running and see what additional measures we may need to take.” ALTERNATOR FAILURES STILL A MYSTERY TO RENAULT F1 >>> NEWS 5 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: