After Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel
and Lotus' Romain Grosjean
both retired mid-race during the European Grand Prix at Valencia a fortnight ago with alternator problems, Renault
have been busy looking into the problem.
While they believe they know the basic cause of the alternator failure, Renault
engineers can't be sure that they've so far been able to fix it or totally ensure that there will be no recurrence in future races.
"The failure was due to overheating - overheating from within the piece, not from outside the piece," explained Renault
Sport's Rob White at Silverstone on Friday. "Both Sebastian's car and Romain's car stopped on the track following the alternator failure. Clearly the alternator generates all the electricity on the car. Without electric power the car stops very quickly."
White explained that engineers had checked external issues such as whether the teams had been running the engine in a non-recommended manner, but had found nothing significant.
"We wanted to find out whether there was anything unusual relative to our recommended operating conditions. The truth of the matter is that both of the teams were completely within the recommendations we had previously made," White conceded. "There wasn't any change underway that went pear-shaped. The spec was something that has been stable for quite a long time – some years – apart from little details in the piece that actually broke.
"We had to look deeper," he continued. "We had to challenge ourselves on whether the recommendations we made were the right ones. We were able to find places where, with hindsight, we were at risk."
While the team found some areas where the unit was at risk, there has been limited time to put in any changes ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix.
"We found some conditions where we felt we might have pushed the piece beyond its comfort zone and that's where we've had to focus our attention for this week," said White. "A very small amount of time to react. Without any great surprise, we don't have a magic wand to wave that will make all the trouble go away, so we've had to deal with it in a fairly classic way."
That's included reducing the electrical loading on the unit, and to remove component parts with the same batch number as those that failed at Valencia.