Ferrari denies big PU gains as Alpine wants 'stronger' engine freeze

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New Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has rubbished reports of big gains from the team's power unit in 2023.

Earlier this month, Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport claimed the Scuderia will benefit from an additional 30 horsepower this season as a result of reliability fixes implemented following numerous failures last year.

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner has also hyped up Ferrari's performance, revealing former team boss Mattia Binotto told him the updated power unit was "going like a rocket".

However, at his first press meeting since taking over the top F1 job at Maranello, Vasseur quickly poured cold water on the suggestions.

“Regarding the engine, I don’t know where the numbers are coming from but it is just a joke!” he was quoted by RACER magazine.

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“We made some steps, but it is just about reliability. I think the performance of the engine was not an issue at all.

"The issue was the reliability, and the first target is to fix it. So far it looks okay, but the reality on the track is a different aspect.

"Everybody will have a much better picture in Bahrain."

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The reason for Vasseur's swiftness in playing down performance gains is F1 imposed an engine freeze last year, supposedly restricting power unit development to areas of reliability, efficiency and safety.

While it is likely that a boost in performance will come from simply running the power unit at a higher mode compared to last year thanks to a reliability fix, Alpine admits it is concerned their rivals are still bringing updates under the guise of reliability.

“What is a pure, genuine reliability issue?" executive director Bruno Famin argued to The Race.

“Behind the reliability issue, you often have a potential performance gain, of course but the limit is not exactly always super clear.

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“If you have a water pump issue, as we had in ‘22, it’s quite clear it’s a pure reliability issue, there is nothing to gain in having a better or different water pump.

“If you need to change the material of the piston rings, OK, you will be able to have something stronger to have more performance, then where is the limit? It’s not obvious.

“The process in 2022 with the FIA and the other PU manufacturers has been quite good, it has been transparent at least in that everybody was aware of the request and this is very good. It has been well managed by the FIA.

“Now I am expecting the FIA to be a bit stronger in the future. It has been quite tolerant in ‘22 and I think it was quite normal because everybody was affected by a reliability issue.

"We had 30, 40, 50, 70 requests from the different manufacturers. Then everybody was affected by this kind of problem.

“I am expecting the FIA to be a bit stronger in the future, but I have no new information.”

In reporting Ferrari's alleged 30hp gain in 2023, La Gazzetta dello Sport suggested Mercedes and Red Bull have also found a solid increase in power while Alpine [Renault] is the only manufacturer at the same level as 2022.