Ferrari DNFs Tied to McLaren?
At the Australian Grand Prix, the unthinkable happened. Both of the Ferrari team cars, that driven by Kimi Raikkonen and that of Felipe Massa, failed to finish.
At the time, both DNFs were attributed to unspecified “engine failure.”
It now develops that the “engine failure” was really a failure of the electronic control unit, the “ECU,” the computer that controls engine functioning.
It’s made by McLaren.
The ECU is a standardized part, specified by the FIA and, thereby, supplied to all the Formula One teams by the same supplier. This year, apparently, a subdivision of McLaren is that sole supplier, having won the contract to supply all teams through 2010.
(more after the jump)
According to Ferrari, inspection of the cars following the Australian Grand Prix concluded that there was no defect within the Ferrari engines themselves, but that the problems were entirely attributable to the ECU.
Speaking to GP Week, a Ferrari spokesman essentially said that the issue turned on an incompatibility in the programming language: ““The issue was caused because of two conflicting procedures. This kind of thing can happen when you are working with one procedure that you do not know so well. Now we know that there is a conflict we can make sure it does not happen again. If you have a Macintosh and you use Windows software it can get stuck and you don’t know why. “When that happens you reset your computer.”
Some observers delighted in suggesting that this was another instance of McLaren pulling strings or, even, payback.
But, there’s a much simpler explanation.
It seems that the McLaren contract for development of the ECU’s is actually a joint project. They have a partner.