Fernandes: Lotus must match rivals’ reliability

2011 F1 season

Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Hungaroring, 2011

Both Lotuses retired in Hungary

More cars are finishing races than ever before as reliability in F1 continues to improve.

But one team is lagging behind this year: Lotus.

Team principal Tony Fernandes has urged his team to raise its game.

The T128 has been the least reliable car on the grid with Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli retiring from four races each due to car problems.

Gearbox problems have been a key weakness for Lotus this year and it was this that sidelined Trulli in Singapore.

Fernandes said: “Jarno suffered again with bad luck, but the reliability issue that ended his race is still something we need to improve on.

“We may be small and we may not have the facilities of the teams ahead of us, but that does not mean our standards should be any lower than them, so we have to make sure in Japan, and at the remaining races, that we are a two car team that can help us guarantee tenth place this year.”

Here’s how all the teams have fared in terms of reliability so far this year:

Retirements by team

Car failures in 2011

Car failures in 2011

Red Bull have had repeated problems with their Kinetic Energy Recovery System, but so far it is yet to cause a retirement. Were it not for Mark Webber’s crash at Monza the team would have a perfect finishing rate.

Virgin have made major strides with their reliability. Last year they suffered 13 breakdowns, more than any other team. So far this year they’ve had just three, though Timo Glock’s failure to start in Istanbul should also be included.

But as ever the most striking thing about reliability in Formula 1 today is how infrequently the cars break down.

So far this year 11% of all starts have ended in a technical failure. That’s less than last year but slightly off the all-time low of 8.7% seen in 2008 – although there were two fewer teams in F1 then.

A new record was set in Valencia as all 24 starters finished the race:

Retirements by driver

Driver Total DNFs Accident Technical failure NC DQ DNQ DNS W
Sebastian Vettel 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Pedro de la Rosa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Karun Chandhok 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bruno Senna 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Webber 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fernando Alonso 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Paul di Resta 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Lewis Hamilton 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nico Rosberg 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Felipe Massa 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Adrian Sutil 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Sebastien Buemi 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Jenson Button 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
Jerome D’Ambrosio 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
Daniel Ricciardo 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
Vitaly Petrov 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Narain Karthikeyan 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
Nick Heidfeld 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
Jaime Alguersuari 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
Rubens Barrichello 3 0 3 0 0 0 0 0
Kamui Kobayashi 3 0 2 0 1 0 0 0
Michael Schumacher 4 2 2 0 0 0 0 0
Pastor Maldonado 4 2 2 0 0 0 0 0
Timo Glock 4 1 1 1 0 0 1 0
Jarno Trulli 4 0 4 0 0 0 0 0
Heikki Kovalainen 5 1 4 0 0 0 0 0
Sergio Perez 5 0 3 0 1 0 1 0
Vitantonio Liuzzi 6 1 3 1 0 1 0 0

NC: Not classified (did not complete more than 90% of the race distance)
DQ: Disqualified
DNQ: Did not qualify
DNS: Did not start
W: Withdrawn

No driver has had more than two retirements due to crashes this year. However Vitaly Petrov was classified after crashing out in Malaysia.

Sebastian Vettel is the only driver to have finished every race this year.

Find updated statistics on reliability throughout the season here:

2011 F1 season


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47 comments on Fernandes: Lotus must match rivals’ reliability

  1. tflb1 (@) said on 2nd October 2011, 15:58

    The list of retirements is not completely accurate. Di Resta crashed out in Canada and Liuzzi crashed out in Italy. Those were not mechanical.

  2. Roald (@roald) said on 2nd October 2011, 16:24

    Yes, the reliability is a problem for the sport in my opinion. I wish we would’ve never gotten stuck with that stupid rev limiter… 18.000rpm is just no problem at all for the V8 engines. I’d have less problems with the disappearance of the V10 if we’d have the 2006 spec V8 engines instead… they sounded GREAT, and let’s be honest… as “unfair” as it may be to a driver, nothing is as thrilling as an exploding engine in the front runner’s car when it really matters most…

    Well, at least the 2014 engine formula has a rev limit that probably won’t be reached by the turbo engines anyway (15.000rpm)… but still, with the fuel flow restictions in those, there was no point in introducing a rev limit. Guess it just looks good on paper and is a nice way of satisfying the treehuggers that try to terrorise our sport.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd October 2011, 17:49

      Its not the rev limit as such, its far more that desing and manufacturing processes have matured and enable far more precise parts and less badly made parts.

      And the improved ways to check parts up front and monitor them during their lifecycle means that any parts with weaknesses get replaced before they even get on the car or long before they fail.

      • Randy (@randy) said on 3rd October 2011, 7:27

        Yeah, particularly interesting stat i read somewhere, before each cylinder head is mounted in an engine, it goes through total of 20 hours of magnetic imaging to check for internal cracks and other manufacturing errors. 20 hours each! (I’m almost certain about it since the source i got it from is pretty reliable, but if someone can confirm/disprove it, please say so)

        I’m a bit of a sucker for this kind of F1 pub trivia, so if you have more of this stuff, bring it on.

    • Mr draw said on 3rd October 2011, 22:29

      I’m missing the engine blow-ups too. Only ten cars can score points, so what difference do the other fourteen cars make? I would love to see the midfield contenders trying to reach that valuable tenth position by risking an engine failure, which would in turn increase the backmarkers’ chances to score a decent result.

  3. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 2nd October 2011, 17:37

    I think it’s clear over the winter Lotus focused only on performance as opposed to reliability; following the classic Adrian Newey route of fast but fragile. Sadly Newey does most of his fast but fragile rides in the lead of the race rather than back marking the field.

  4. iceshiel said on 2nd October 2011, 17:59

    What gearbox is Lotus using? Red Bull?

  5. Lucas Alexander Munro said on 2nd October 2011, 20:00

    I don’t blame Lotus, if you think about it, they are the only ‘newer’ team to have changed things for this year, Marussia Virgin & HRT both have Cozzie engines like last year, Team Lotus have new Renault engines so they have to adapt to that. Maybe the risks haven’t paid off but you have to admire Lotus for even taking them.

  6. AlonsoWDC (@alonsowdc) said on 2nd October 2011, 20:11

    Wasn’t Ricciardo’s result at Monza the definition of a NC finish?

  7. These engines and cars are very mature. Just wait until 2014 when you’re going to have one of the biggest mechanical/electrical revolutions in F1 history. We’ll see then!

    Also, anyone share a light on gearbox technology? I used to remember hearing improvements about gearboxes but now that seems to have dried up. Do they still try to develop them, are they allowed to? Apart from things like Williams low-line gearbox, which is mainly an aero thing anyway.

    I know in 2014, with the 8 fixed ratios for the entire season (lol), you should be seeing some new things. So not so sure if there will be much investment in that department until then.

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd October 2011, 4:12

      There isn’t much development on gearboxes mainly as the gearbox tech is very very efficient already; they’ve been around for quite a while these gearboxes. I’m curious why you see fit to lol at the 8 fixed ratios thing though.

  8. Ginger (@ginger) said on 2nd October 2011, 21:05

    Rob and Felipe should concentrate on their race pace I would suggest. It is all becoming a bit embarrassing now, the sooner his is replaced the better. A shame as he is a nice fella, a gallant loser. Almost British qualities!

  9. Rob Wilson (@rob-wilson) said on 2nd October 2011, 23:25

    Nico Rosberg has had the same amount of retirements through accidents as Hamilton, i for one didn’t expect that.
    After the millions of comments on a previous article about Hamiltons troubles this season and him getting a fair amount of critism from readers, it’s not that badas it seems, truth be told. A casual fan would probably guess Hamilton has DNF’d about 5 or 6 times through crashing when actually it’s nowhere near as bad.

    • Mahir C said on 2nd October 2011, 23:56

      Nico had 2 retirements due to accident, both of which was the fault of someone else. One was in Australia when Rubens crashed made a stupid overtaking move from too far back. The other is Monza, due to Liuzzi.

      Hamilton crashed a lot this year, but most of them didnt result in retirement. Mostly he broke his front wing.

  10. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd October 2011, 1:44

    No driver has had more than two retirements due to crashes this year. However Vitaly Petrov was classified after crashing out in Malaysia.

    Has anybody else noticed that despite a dozen accidents last year, Petrov has had only one crashing retirement – Malaysia – that was his fault? And even then, he was classified as a finisher. His accidents at Monaco and Monza were both triggered by someone else.

    That’s a massive improvement all-round.

  11. The Ram (@the-ram) said on 3rd October 2011, 3:10

    I think Button’s wheel falling off in England should count as an accident. It was not a mechanical failure, it was a human error on part of the pit crew and Button’s failure to wait seeing that the right lollypop guy did not lift up as yet.

    Hamilton has a large number of technical failures, but they did not end his races. Broken Floor in Australia, Defective Tyres in Malaysia, Non working KERS in Barcelona, Gearbox in (the time he couldn’t use on of the gears forgot which race).. a number of them. So yeah the tables here are a bit too selective and it does not do the article justice. We the readers want to see all in race technical failures for this year and years before, whether race ending or not.

    Can you do that kieth?

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd October 2011, 4:14

      I remember that Hamilton’s KERS was working all through Barcelona. However Jenson’s KERS failed halfway through Valencia. Gearbox 3rd gear failing was last year in Suzuka for Hamilton

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd October 2011, 4:55

      We the readers want to see all in race technical failures for this year and years before, whether race ending or not.

      Speak for yourself.

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd October 2011, 7:22

        Hear hear

        • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 3rd October 2011, 11:39

          I suspect there have been many minor technical failures on cars during the races which teams/drivers have simply managed. Only technical problems which are race ending or have a significant impact on the race are visible to us and unless the teams or drivers choose to report every minor problem then any list compiled would always be incomplete.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd October 2011, 8:47

      I think Button’s wheel falling off in England should count as an accident. It was not a mechanical failure, it was a human error on part of the pit crew and Button’s failure to wait seeing that the right lollypop guy did not lift up as yet.

      By your own admission, it was human error. It was not an accident. Button didn’t crash into anyone or anything. Therefore, it cannot be counted as an accident.

  12. Dev (@dev) said on 3rd October 2011, 3:51

    When Mike Gascoyne was at Force India, they too had many reliability problems. maybe Fernandes needs to find a new technical director who can set up a rigorous process to check in reliability.

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd October 2011, 4:14

      very ironic isn’t it; considering that at the start of last year their philosophy was to get the reliability up first and worry about the performance later

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 3rd October 2011, 9:21

      I’m not convinced about Gascoyne either. Renault got succesfull after he left them. But he always maintains that it was because of the structure he created at them.
      Force India also got fairly succesfull, the year after he left them. Maybe he’s the kind of leader who’s good at building, but not at making that last step? Or everybody is fed up with him after a few Years.

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd October 2011, 9:53

        Don’t forget he had that cumbersome 111 degree V10 to work with. I’ve always viewed Gascoyne as being able to make a winning, but not a champion, team

      • Dev (@dev) said on 3rd October 2011, 11:27

        maybe after he is gone the team feels motivated to do better. as in case with FI, the same people working under him did a great job in terms of getting on top of reliability problems. VJM02 was more reliable than VJM01 even when VJM02 had new engine, gearbox & hydraulics.

  13. What was Felipe Massa’s mechanical failure? I don’t recall that.

  14. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 3rd October 2011, 13:34

    This really is a credit to Red Bull most of all. After the traumatic start they had last year, what better way to shrug off those issues by no mechanical failures at all this year?

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd October 2011, 13:37

      I think in a way this is the sort of performance gap they should have had last year. If they had spent more time during the 2009 winter leading into the 2010 season on reliability; that would have meant less time on the car’s performance

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