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Formula 1

Why both Alpines are on brink of F1’s first exhaust penalty

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

Fernando Alonso has joined Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon on the brink of a grid penalty, as both have reached Formula 1’s new limit on exhaust systems in a season.

For 2021 the FIA sporting regulations were updated to add exhaust systems to the list of limited power unit components to be used by each driver.

The change was originally planned when 2021 was meant to usher in brand new sporting and technical rules but while they have been postponed to 2022, the new exhaust limit has been introduced this year.

As with the other restricted components, the purpose of this was to reduce the amount of money being spent on development in the pursuit of performance, because it forces the exhausts to hit a certain amount of mileage.

Alpine had to introduce multiple new exhausts in the early part of the 2021 season because it had a reliability concern that meant it limited the mileage to avoid a failure during the race.

Alonso had two exhaust changes at Imola alone, another at Barcelona two races later and used his fifth in Azerbaijan – just six races into the season.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Monza, Italy

The two-time world champion was able to make that pool of exhausts last until the summer break but he has now taken a new system at each race of the triple-header: the Belgian, Dutch and now Italian GPs.

Ocon had already moved onto his eighth exhaust system in Belgium.

Earlier this year Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski explained that the increased use of the exhausts at the start year had been to “contain that risk” until the problem could be solved.

However, he conceded that it left the team “exposed” to penalties later in the year, which both drivers are now on the brink of.

“What we are doing now is really adding the pool,” Budkowski said in Hungary in July.

“We have a number of exhausts per car for the season. We just need to manage it and effectively, you manage them between practice sessions, qualifying, race.

“By having a bit more exhausts in your pool you can use them in the most efficient way for the rest of the season.

“Touch wood we don’t expect to take penalties this season, but obviously as we’ve used a few more than we would have liked to at the beginning of this season then we are a bit exposed.”

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