Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Korea, 2010

The engine situation with two races to go

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Korea, 2010
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Korea, 2010

Tom Hogan wrote in to ask:

I have been trying to get my head around the engine situation among the championship contenders. Sebastian Vettel?s Korean engine was on its third race, Mark Webber has (barely) used his last engine.

How many does Fernando Alonso have left as he blew a few in the beginning of the year?

On a personal note thank so much for all your work this year you have made following F1 in Australia far more enjoyable than ever.
Tom Hogan

First thing first: you can find an up-to-date list of how many new engines each driver has used on the statistics page here: New engines used.

Drivers can use up to eight engines in a season without a penalty. Once they use a ninth engine they get a ten-place penalty. All five championship contenders have used all eight of their new engines.

But, as Tom points out, Alonso hit the magic eight much earlier than the others:

Driver Round when first used eighth engine
Fernando Alonso Monza (round 14)
Lewis Hamilton Suzuka (16)
Jenson Button Suzuka (16)
Sebastian Vettel Suzuka (16)
Mark Webber Korea (17)

Remember that drivers can use their engines in any order and we don’t have a complete picture of who used which engine in which session (when asked for the data the FIA responded “This kind of information is confidential between each team and the FIA.”)

Therefore Alonso’s engine situation may not be that bad. Remember his engine that was replaced at Bahrain (along with Felipe Massa’s) was later used again in Shanghai. Alonso lost another engine at Malaysia.

Also keep in mind the following regulation ahead of the final race at Abu Dhabi next week:

If an engine is changed in accordance with Article 34.1 the engine which was replaced may not be used during any future qualifying session or race with the exception of the last Event of the Championship.
FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations Article 28.4 (e)

As for Sebastian Vettel, his Korean engine had also done race distances at Germany and Belgium (minus one lap) and the failure was traced to the con rod in the number four piston, according to Peter Windsor.

His Brazilian Grand Prix engine is the same one he used for the Monaco and Singapore Grands Prix – both circuits which do not stress engines too much (a lap of Singapore is 48% full throttle, Monaco 42%, Interlagos 63%).

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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77 comments on “The engine situation with two races to go”

  1. Without knowing which engine did which race and for how long, it is hard to say who needs to go easy on their engines.

    1. I think Alonso’s remaining engine did Monza or something, I hope. I also hope it blows up, twice.

      1. Why?? Thats not exactly a sportive comment.

      2. YES, I hope it blows in the last corner.. lol

        1. Hilarious! “That’s not a sportive comment”!

          Oh dear, I’m doubled-up. :D

      3. Lmao, me too scribe.

      4. Scared Alonso might win the title after all?

      5. Yes but he got a fresh one in spa if I am not mistaken.

      6. fernandoelmatador
        3rd November 2010, 8:32

        ok bro no prob…as long as Lewis’s,Button’s,Vettel’s,Webber’s engine blow up,tyree prob or soft accidents they have… then 11 points of gap (at least) would be protected.good luck el nano…

  2. Im really worried about Ferni. But I think if he wont blew it in practice or race, all will be ok

  3. So, basically, it’s anyone’s guess, if it’s not disclosed who used which engine where?

    1. I think so.

      It would be good if the FIA would publish information on engine usage. It would be really simple to do as well. A simple table for each car, with the number of each engine in one column, and then the kilometres travelled with each engine in the next column. When an engine blows up the number of kilometres travelled for the particular engine is simply changed to “Engine Destroyed”.

  4. A german site reported that he’ll use the monza engine for this weekend. For abu dhabi he’ll use the engine that was changed after quali in bahrain.

    1. The bahrain quali engine expired in china free practice I believe, and the bahrain race engine expired in the malaysian race.

    2. It is my limited understanding that once an engine has been run in anger, the clock is ticking on degradation. Modern F1 engines are like soft fruit, they simply cannot sit on the shelf for 8 months and then be switched on again and forced to race, they can’t and won’t take it.

      So although the rules say the Bahrain FP engine ‘can’ be used, unless Ferrari are really desperate, chances are that particular lump is now being measured-up to be turned into a coffee-table.

      It is the more recent vintage engines that will have to be stretched to the last race (and last lap), by careful lifetime management and I’d imagine reduced FP running.

      1. I find it very doubtful that the current engines (ones with 4 races required) are going to suffer any significant degredation by sitting on a shelf without fluids for 6 months. Most useful alloys are pretty stable (5 years *might* be an issue for particularly unstable precipitation hardened aluminum alloys, it is known that most aircraft aluminum needs to be replaced every 20 years due to over-aging). If the engine sat with all of the oil/coolant/grease/fuel/[insert other organics here] in it, maybe there would be an issue, but not with proper engine care and maintenance. Now if you were talking about the one trick pony engines of old that were replaced every time the cars went out on track, those engines were usually useless after race or qualy and had visible, large cracks (described by one person cracks large enough to see light coming through) throughout the block. However, requiring an average of ~2.5 practice+qualy+race distances for each engine makes things a little more tricky and I seriously doubt ANY team would be willing to take that kind of risk.

        1. Aso, they don’t just put them on a shelf and don’t look at them anymore. I once visited a BMW production site and they had a big empty room with one giant window and in it you saw 3 engines that were being connected to electro engines and to computers and engineers were monitoring the data while the parts of the engine were slowly being moved. It looked awesome, like in a science fiction movie.

      2. The Bahrein engine has been used the practices, and as long as I know it was the one broken in Intelagos.

    3. The engine run mostly flat out at Monza, most of the time direclty in Button’s exhaust plume, cannot still be fresh as a daisy.

  5. Well, if any of the drivers need to change an engine, im sure they r better off doing it in brasil than abu dhabi. Brasil is a good track for overtaking…however the weather looks like it is going to have a big say too

  6. It really boggles the mind when I think of the way F1 engines used to hand grenade on a regular basis and now they are getting 3 races from one and still going damned fast at that.

    Anyone know how many engines have been lost this season?

    1. The Ferrari engines are pretty solid for the last 10 years , the (mugen) Honda engines on the other hand…:P Sato in monaco comes to mind.

  7. In those statistics pages, comments go much further to the right of the page then they do in the articles. Is this something you’re going to implement for all articles in future, or is it just a glitch?

    That stats page is great btw.

    1. It’s not which engine was used at which race. The numbers are just the total amount of engines that have been used over the course of the season at each race. Their source is (Click the engine tab)

      1. Clockwork Kitty
        2nd November 2010, 14:42

        How embarrasing! Sorry

        At vivaf1 there is another interesting piece of data: FA’s engine #1 was used only in Bahrain’s free practice quali and maybe in free practice afterwards, but not in any race. It can be used however in Abu Dhabi without penalty.

        Assuming that the engine is as good as it should be (almost new) there is no reason for Ferrari to use a new engine for Abu Dhabi and assume the 10P grid penalty, even if they get a good result at Interlagos.

        1. The bahrain quali engine expired in China free practice.

          1. Clockwork Kitty
            2nd November 2010, 14:57

            Well, I did it again!

            Then it is true that FA situation is a lot worse than I thought and that it could be wise to get a new engine for the last race, penalty and all. We’ll see.

          2. Bahrain GP:
            Ferrari made a precautionary engine change for both Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso after the qualifying session. Engine 1 may now only be used for free practice sessions and the final event in Abu Dhab

            Wasn’t engine two the blew in China FP not engine #1

    2. I believe those tables shows how many new engines each driver had used at each point in the season. Otherwise Pedro de la Rosa/Nick Heidfeld used the same engine for five races in a row which seems unlikely.

      1. Yeah I think you’re right Keith. It’s just total engines used, not which specific engine was used.

    3. I reckon vettel will blow his engines in Brasil and Abu Dhabi due to his engines status and reckless driving.

  8. Engine mgmt is one of very complex thing like many things in formula one. It seems they evaluate throttle requirement for each race & does plan accordingly (and adjust if there were any failures). It seems everyone used new engines for each of spa & monza (webber didn’t use new engine in monza). So i believe alonso has to run atleast one engine for four races. So hope it stands out!!

    1. Engines are half of the bill of the teams.

      Since the 18k rev limit and the “no more evolution” are pretty solid, being Renault the worst and the Cosworth the less powerful.

      Alonso will use a 2 raced engine as long as I know.

  9. Alonso’s 1st engine replaced at Bahrain before the race under Parc-Freme condition blew up already in FP1 of Shanghai, which you can read from FIA Technical Reports issued in first four races.

    Since ‘low-mileage’ 3rd engine blew up at Sepang, Ferrari had just two engine – 1st engine used at Bahrain until the qualifying and 2nd engine used from Bahrain race to Sepang FP2 – when arrived Shanghai.

    Unfortunately, Ferrari blew up “a” engine in FP1 Shanghai but nevertheless stuck to the another one from FP2 to race without unboxing and firing up 4th power unit.

    That’s why you can see the broken engine at Shanghai is 1st engine allowed to use in just free practice by article 28.4, so Alonso’s engine situation is undoubtedly on the ropes.

    1. Forgot his Shanghai engine went in practice. It’s a bit worse than I thought, then.

      Under the circumstances, spending half the Korea race behind the safety car at low revs wasn’t so bad. Perhaps that’s why he was saying the conditions were the worst he’d ever seen!

      1. Hadn’t thought of it that way, they’ve always got an agenda huh?

        If it goes anywhere it’ll be in Abu Dhabi, they seemed to fix there engine woes comming back from the flyaways so Brazil should be within it’s capabilities, full race distance at Abu Dhabi especially with those two long straights looks difficult.

        Oh Please, let my McLaren go.

  10. I’m really ignorant on this topic, so, can a blown or used engine be repaired? In case this can be done, how many parts or percentage of the engine can be replaced/repaired??

    1. Blown engines can not be replaced.
      Used engines can continue to be used but never can they be refurbished, rebuilt, or touched in any way.

  11. Ferrari is the only engine manufacturer to get a “reliability” allowance this year to change their engine design, for the pneumatic system issues. I’m sure they took the opportunity to stretch the related changes to the max to improve both power and reliability.

    1. According to Ferrari themselves, the issue wasn’t a pneumatic system. And yes, they confirmed that the first engine of FA didn’t have the issues they thought, so it will be used in the last GP, as allowed. Which should probably mean that he will not push that hard in Brazil, but instead focusing on finishing the race on 3 to 6-th place.

  12. It’s like the old days almost, when we didn’t know if a particular car would get to the finish or not. And engine blow ups were a real threat.

    I like it.

  13. I think Vettel will finish 2nd in Brazil, if it’s anything engine based or letting Mark Webber win the race because he was 2nd in Monaco and Singapore

  14. Keith, Alonso is going to use the Monza engine for the final 2 races, is my understanding. Shouldn’t this put him at a disadvantage in Abu Dabbi ? So if he takes it conservative in Brazil (which is an engine-taxing track), and say he gets 3rd place (presumably behind the 2 RBRs) then he will most likely have to win in Abu Dabbi w/ the same engine doing its 3rd race. Not ideal.

    1. Only if it’s Webber doing the winning in Both Brazil and Abu Dhabi. If Vettel wins in Brazil, Alonso is fine coming in 3d in both races.

    2. Actually the altitude of Interlagos puts less stress on the engines than usual.

  15. I would have more faith in the strength of a Ferrari engine than a RBR one.Vettel has blown up 2?

  16. Mr. Zing Zang
    2nd November 2010, 17:25

    I praying and doing all sorts of rituals in hope that Alonso blows two engines in a row in these coming races.

    1. Clockwork Kitty
      2nd November 2010, 19:25

      And I’m praying that people who says stuff like that will go somewhere else to say it

  17. I am not getting one thing. Whay cant Alonso use the first engine which was changed in Barain in Brazil and Spa engine in Abu Dhabi ?
    How many races has his Spa engine done ?
    Has he really raced his last 4 races on the same engine ?

  18. Although off-topic, I will give a strong nod to Tom Hogan’s last paragraph:

    You do an amazing job here, Keith. I love reading your and your colleagues’ insights. This is – by far – the most constructive F1 site I have come across. Watching F1 is more enjoyable now for me because I learn so much here.

    I’ll add an apology: I know I don’t have much to add, except the odd silly comment here and there. It’s just my cry for attention. So forgive the daftness – it’s just my character. :D

    Thanks also to everyone who else who adds their comments to articles. Amazing how much knowledge so many of you have.

    1. the most constructive F1 site I have come across

      I think that’s one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever been paid – and everyone who comments here as well, by the way. Thanks!

    2. Clockwork Kitty
      2nd November 2010, 21:50

      Yup, this is mostly true. Still, there are too many comments of the “I hate such-and-such”, “I hope XX’s engine blows up” etc. variety. As I said earlier today, they should be fined for bringing the blog into disrepute.

      1. its just pasionate supporters venting there agravation…this site wuld not be as good as it is without them….inbetween there ranting thay leave valid comments….so live with it

        1. Yeah ,thats true. Even if some says one driver’s engine should blow and the other should crash, but they still want their fav driver to win and in turn they support F1 and are F1 lovers.
          Thank u guys.

      2. I would say a 10 place grid penalty should be handed out. Although we need a veteran commenter to advise the stewards.

    3. Ditto, Shimks. This site is the most intelligent, informed and objective F1 resource I have ever come across.
      Keith, well done.

  19. If an engine is changed in accordance with Article 34.1 the engine which was replaced may not be used during any future qualifying session or race with the exception of the last Event of the Championship.
    FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations Article 28.4 (e)

    …Why? This seems very arbitrary. What are the FIA trying to prevent with this? Am I missing something?

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      2nd November 2010, 22:09

      I think what this reg is trying to outlaw is the idea of the ‘qualifying engine’.
      Back in the Seventies and Eighties there were quali engines and super-sticky quali tyres which were put together to produce lunatic performance for a mere handfull of laps.
      This Regulation seems to seek to avoid the return of a quali engine, and to reinforce the idea of the engine that sets the qualifying time is the engine to be raced.
      In other words, it stops a team from having a ‘Wunder-Motor’ that guarantees them fastest time in practice and therefore at least fifth on the grid when they change back to ‘normal’ racing engine.
      However, for an infinitely more insightful explanation and several ideas of how to get around it – ask someone like Ross Brawn!

      1. Good point. I’m still unclear why it suddenly becomes OK to use them on the last race in the championship… and good idea, I may well make use of the BBC’s F1 forum and pester them for an answer…

  20. Surely this is only of passing interest these days. Twenty years ago we had the era of ‘hand-grenade’ engines that regulalry expired part way through the race, but over the past five to ten years, all the engines have been relatively bullet-proof.
    Such are the telemetry controls and observations, I cannot believe that Alonso’s progress to WDC will be thwarted by an engine that may or may not have done excellent service at this track or that track.

    1. Lol… tell that to Vettel…

      1. Yes, okay. You’re right! LOL.

      2. True lol, but remember he did say “relatively”!

  21. Hi Keith,

    Alonso did lose 2 engines earlier in the season (Malaysia race and China Practice) effectively since China Practice he has had 6 engines of which 1 by the time he took his 4th engine in Spain had quite a few miles on it. Effectively since those two early failures each engine has had to do 3 qualifications and races (not to mention practice sessions) where as other teams have only had to do this with a few engines over the course of a season.

    Alonso’s recent engine usuage:

    Engine 6: Germany, Hungary and Singapore
    Engine 7: Spa, Suzuka and Korea
    Engine 9: Monza (only Saturday and Sunday running)

    The issue for Ferrari is that this 8th engine has already completed the toughest GP in regards to engines on the calendar and now has to back up in a title fight at two more engine demanding circuits. Brazil should not be a problem however it would be worrying taking that same engine to Abu Dhabi running in temperatures of around 30-35 celcius with track temperatures much higher and facing the possibility of being stuck in dirty hot air for 309 km’s.

  22. Only Renault & some Cosworth drivers have some new engine left. The biggest question is how much good condition are or how much mileage is left for all those 8 engines that are been used so far.Mat be Vettel & Hamilton are in a better condition as they had more retirement then any other title contenders.

  23. It’s not “sportive” to wish Alonso blows his engines in the last 2 remaining sessions, as it is EDEFINITELY not sportive if he wins the championship by 7 points (the seven points Domenicalli made Massa give to Alonso as an early gift

    3rd November 2010, 4:01

    as far as I know, Alonso is a smooth operator along with Jenson when it comes to throttle control.

    What i don’t know is whether that’s enough to aid them both.

    And what I want is Alonso’s engine to blow up :) much like SCRIBE described

  25. Here some pretty reliable data on the Alonso’s first 4 races taken from the Autosport magazine.

    As for his last 3 engines (#6, #7 & #8), Ferrari are hoping to do all last 9 races of the season with these 3 angines. So far they are doing well…

    „Fernando Alonso won today’s Singapore Grand Prix using the same engine with which he raced in Germany and Hungary. It’s been a successful engine, scoring 68 out of a potential 75 points.

    That engine will now be used for Fridays for the remainder of the season.

    Despite having now used all his eight allocated engines, compared to his rivals Red Bull and McLaren who each have one fresh one to take, Alonso and Ferrari say that their running will not be compromised.

    He has two engines which have both done one race each – Spa and Monza. These will be used across the remaining four races.

    Ferrari say they are calm about the situation, given that the engine with which Alonso did his Friday running this weekend had covered over 2,500kms.“

    James Allen: „Ferrari told me on Sunday night that Alonso’s Singapore engine will be used again for Friday running. Spa and Monza engines with one race on them each will do the Sat/Sun for the remaining events“

    Cheers! :)

  26. Alonso fans .. Take heart from the fact that even new engines can blow up :)

  27. Can I just say, Hamilton should have the use of other engines which haven’t done the full race distance due to the DNF, especially the race at Sing when he crashed in 1FP & only got about 20min test time, didn’t have any FP or qually on the saturday & then DNF too, so doesn’t that give him a better chance with engines over the last 2 races???

    1. If he crashes again in Brazil, he should have a really good one for Abu Dhabi. :)

  28. I’ve done my research, here is a summary of which engine was used where for Alonso:

    #1: Did qualifying in Bahrain, was then assigned to practice sessions and expired in FP at China.
    #2: Did race at Bahrain and China
    #3: Australia and Malaysia (expired in the latter)
    #4: Spain, Monaco and Turkey
    #5: Canada, Europe and Great Britain
    #6: Germany, Hungary and Singapore
    #7: Belgium, Japan and Korea
    #8: Monza

    #8 will be used at Interlagos and Abu Dhabi. It’s not ideal to have the Monza engine do 3 races, but it should probably last, though they will have to manage it.

  29. keith, if you check out, it tells us which drivers have used which engines at which races

    1. No it doesn’t, it only shows where each engine was introduced.

      1. yes, but i would still expect Ferrari to try and keep running to a minimum / reduced power

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