Alpine forced to change Alonso's engine for Australian GP

© XPB 

Fernando Alonso will receive a new penalty-free engine for next week's Australian Grand Prix after Alpine diagnosed a water pump failure and collateral damage on the Spaniard's Jeddah unit.

Alonso was running seventh in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and enjoying a competitive race when he was forced to retire on lap 35 of 50, the two-time world champion coasting to a terminal halt in Jeddah's pitlane.

Alpine initially suspected an engine issue had undermined Alonso's evening. But a post-race inspection revealed the root cause of Alonso's retirement and its unfortunate effects.

"It wasn't the engine, but a water-pump failure," Alpine boss Laurent Rossi told Auto Hebdo. "And that led to a lack of cooling and to a host of problems, like the engine overheating, which triggered more troubles.

"Fernando managed to continue as the engine was working, although in less than ideal conditions. But we preferred to stop him as the water pump was defective.

"We've identified the problem, and hopefully ii will be solved for Melbourne. It's related to some brand new engine components that haven't yet been fully validated, as is the case for all teams.

"The good news is that it isn't a structural or inbuilt issue. There are no doubts about the engine's design and architecture as the unit is working as expected."

Unfortunately, the extent of the issue has forced Alpine to introduce a new Renault engine into its pool of hardware.

"The problem is this component [water pump] is an integral part of the engine. The water pump ended up disintegrating and falling into the engine.

"If we had wanted to repair it, we would have had to break the seal. So the engine is lost to us. Even if its physical integrity is not directly affected, for us it's one less engine."

Despite his disappointing retirement in Saudi Arabia, Alonso believes the performance of Renault's latest unit is on apar with that of its rivals.

"I think we are now on the same level as the others," said the Spaniard last weekend in Jeddah.

"We have been able to fight on the straights, both here and in Bahrain.

"I’m happy with the performance," he said. "To be honest I think I could be in sixth or seventh place in the Championship, but I’m not there,” he said.

"And it’s not because we don’t deserve it, it’s because we haven’t maximised the points. I think we’ve lost too many points."

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