Renault Sport expect the FIA to be ‘a bit stronger’ when it comes to requests to change power unit components across the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.
The power units are currently in the middle of a development freeze up until the end of the 2025 Formula 1 season, with only fixes to improve reliability issues being allowed. Anything designed purely to improve performance is currently outlawed until the new regulations come into play in 2026.
Bruno Famin, the Executive Director of Renault’s engine department that powers the BWT Alpine F1 Team, says the FIA will likely look closely at any request made by any of the engine manufacturers to ensure any changed aimed at improving reliability does not offer a performance gain at the same time.
“I think the process in 2022 with the FIA and the other manufacturers has been quite good,” Famin is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. It has been transparent at least, so everybody was aware of the request of the others, and this is very good. It has been well managed by the FIA, I think.
“It has been quite tolerant in 2022. I think it was quite normal because everybody was affected by reliability issues: not only us, clearly, because I think we had 30/40/50/60/70 requests from different manufacturers, so everybody was affected by this kind of problem.
“I am expecting the FIA to be a bit stronger in the future, but I have no information.”
Renault suffered with auxiliary problems mostly related to their water and fuel pumps during the 2022 season so are in the process of addressing those problems, but Famin acknowledges that there is certainly a grey area when it comes to redressing reliability issues.
Scuderia Ferrari are said to have gained a lot of performance over the winter as they looked to solve their own reliability issues, and Famin says the FIA will need to look closely to ensure the design was changed purely for reliability.
“What is a pure genuine reliability issue?” Famin said. “It’s a question we can’t answer because behind the reliability issue you have often a potential performance gain of course. The limit is not always super clear.
“If you have a water pump issue as we had in 2022, I think it’s quite clear it’s a pure reliability issue right: there is nothing to gain in having a different water pump.
“But if you need to change the material of the piston rings, you will be able to have something stronger, to have more knock, to have more performance, then where is the limit? It’s not obvious.”