The reliabiltiy of engines will be under greater pressues than ever at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix thanks to the demands of the two-race engines rule, the forthcoming engine development freeze, and the championship battle.
Three engine suppliers are bringing major upgrades to coincide with the Monza race which sees a greater percentage of maximum throttle use per lap than any other track on the calendar.
Championship leaders Renault have new engines for both Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso, both of whom forgo changing their engines prior to Turkey (as they were entitled to following their Hungary retirements) to ensure they would have the upgrade for Monza.
Honda and Cosworth are trying to steal a march in the development race for 2007, bringing major updates to Italy. Cosworth’s “very agressive” step will rev to 20,000 rpm, while Honda have their 2007 engine specification ready. It has only done 1,200km (less than two race weekend’s distance) in testing, however.
Neither team has much to lose. Honda are a solid fourth in the constructors’ championship and Williams have failed to score in the last nine races anyway.
Car reliability has dropped in 2006 for the first time in four years (see chart), which is clearly linked to the change to 2.4-litre V8 engines. Notwithstanding that, reliability in general in 2006 has been very impressive.
But the promise of extra-powerful engines could be rendered irrelevant if the reports of rain for Saturday and Sunday prove to be accurate…