I mentioned on Podcast #157 that Ferrari were experiencing a pneumatic valve issue and the shortened pit stops gave them no time to re-air the system as it is leaking during the race. It seems that the FIA have given them special dispensation to make a reliability change as we discussed here.
Now before I get accused of being a Ferrari fan, which I am, I will try to be as unbiased as possible here. The reality is that this is truly a reliability issue and one need look no further than both Sauber’s as well as Ferrari’s to see that issue. With Sauber’s and Ferrari’s losing engines in the flyaway races, it is no mystery that there is an issue.
I maintain that is is the right decision on the FIA’s part to allow the reliability change to the engine. The last thing you want, in a limited supply regulation, is to have a team burning through engines and to damage their efforts of good racing mid-year. Especially as that team is also a supplier of another team who is also experiencing a season-ending performance on only 4 races.
If this were McLaren, Renault or any other team, I would be happy to suggest this is the right decision as it is, unlike the past perhaps, truly a reliability issue. Having valve failure is game over for a team and there is no way that Ferrari can remain competitive as the two drivers have already used 3 of their allotted 8 engines for the year.
It is important to understand that this is something that Ferrari may have been able to limp through the year with if the pit stops were still 8-11 seconds long. As it is, we are seeing 3 second pit stops and there simply isn’t time to plug an air hose in and adequately fill the system in that amount of time.
Yes, I am a Ferrari fan and yes I know the “Red Rule” rumors are flying but ask yourself; if this were Force India or McLaren or Mercedes GP, would you be outraged? I don’t think it is quite fair to say they made their bed and they have to lay in it as it is important to the FIA and FOM that the racing remain competitive and with all the teams at their best in both reliability and performance. If a team experiences an errant suspension like Toro Rosso did, they can easily change it for the next session or race but with the engine freeze rule, that is not possible without the FIA’s approval.
It’s the right call and the right thing for F1 as a whole. That’s my opinion and I am sticking with it.