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Customer engines vital to Ferrari's 2014 plans

22 February 2013

Ferrari hopes and expects to continue supplying customer engines to a number of their F1 rivals in 2014 when new technical regulations come into effect - and says that such deals were not only important to helping to pay the development costs, but are also crucial to the development process itself.

"I think a customer team is a very important opportunity for an engine supplier," insisted Luca Marmorini, Ferrari's Head of Engines and Electronics.

"First of all we can test more engines," he explained. "With there being no test during the season we can collect a much wider database. In this sense it's very good having customer teams.

"It's also important to have a reference with a car with basically the same engine, to have a good relative comparison to your car. So Ferrari is strongly committed to supplying a competitive engine to customer teams."

That said, Marmorini didn't know who would be in the Ferrari corner next season. Force India is said to be working on a Ferrari engine supply deal for 2014, but existing partners like Toro Rosso might equally be looking elsewhere.

"I don't know if Toro Rosso will be next year with us," Marmorini admitted. "Still now we're working very well with them, it's an important contribution for Ferrari's engine development and I think also we are giving them a competitive engine."

The supply of customer engines means that Ferrari even has to work in a sometimes strained partnership with their main F1 world championship competitors such as McLaren, who have the contract to supply the new version of F1's standard ECU.

"We had some problems but we were expecting them at the beginning, this is a brand new ECU," said Marmorini. "We are working with them, everyday they are having some update on the software and I am confident we are able to race with a reliable system but even to be done.

"We have a lot of development to do be done. So no panic at all, lot of work yet to be done," he continued, while also adding that the work done so far was already quite far down the road.

"While we cannot say everything is already set in stone, it's true to say that the development phase is already quite advanced," he said. "It's a very tight deadline, but we have got an intensive development programme in place and we hope to have a power train that delivers good performance with reliability right from the start of the 2014 season."

Getting enough time on track to test the new engines could prove to be the most crucial - and most problematic - part of the whole process.

"At the moment, no ruling has been put in place which would allow us to test the new type of engines outside the usual testing limitations," he explained. "And of course, with the rule change, this new engine will be expected to complete almost double the mileage of the current ones and getting it to run reliably will be a very big task.

"However, I would estimate that, by the second half of this season, every team will have an engine that, while not being the finished article will be the engine that will be used in 2014 and the top teams will have an engine that is 90% the same as the one that will be raced next year," he said.

Many of the teams are already getting a head start with the development of new 'extreme' exhaust systems. Once such evaluation session this week during the Barcelona test led to problems for Fernando Alonso's run on Wednesday.

"We tested the exhaust right to the very end of its life, as we need to know where are the limits and this failure can therefore be seen as part of our routine work at the track," Marmorini explained.

He went on to point out that perhaps the biggest single task ahead of all the teams adapting to the 2014 engine regulations will be the return of turbochargers.

"It's definitely interesting from a technical point of view but there is still a lot of development work to be carried out," he said. "Not just at Ferrari but for all the teams, who will have to use the same turbo, which is of a completely different type to the one we saw back in the Eighties."


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