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Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 12:31 UK

Fernando Alonso is unfazed by Ferrari's engine problems

Fernando Alonso's Ferrari is lifted off the circuit in Shanghai
Alonso's Ferrari was hauled off the asphalt after his first-session engine failure

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Shanghai

Fernando Alonso says he is not worried about Ferrari's engine reliability - despite another failure in China.

His first practice session was cut short when his engine, recycled from the Bahrain race weekend, caught fire.

"I'm not too worried," said Alonso, who now has six new engines remaining of his allotted eight for the season.

"On Fridays from now on we will use very old engines and that is the only risk. Everything is still going according to plan."

Ferrari downplayed concerns over their engine performance after Alonso and both Ferrari-powered Saubers retired from the Malaysian Grand Prix because of engine problems.

In Bahrain at the start of the season, Ferrari were forced to change the V8s on their cars before the race when they discovered slight reading abnormalities.

In the winter we've been pushing our engines to the limits of mileage and after finishing the life of the engine we did some tests and saw that the performance lost was very low

Fernando Alonso

Alonso's car had been fitted with the engine used during practice and qualifying in Bahrain and the Spaniard remained philosophical about its subsequent failure.

"We knew this engine was a little bit damaged after Bahrain and that it was degrading a bit every Friday," he said.

"The failure is something we were expecting, maybe not here but either here or in [the next race in] Barcelona.

"So this failure was maybe expected but the Malaysia one was a little bit of a surprise."

Alonso came to the fourth grand prix of the season in China having already used three new engines, as had his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa and Red Bull rival Mark Webber.

The rest of the field have used two engines, with the exception of Renault's Vitaly Petrov, who has so far only used one.

The worry for Alonso is that none of his chief rivals have suffered engine failure and so have more engines at their disposal for the 15 remaining race weekends.

Ferrari have started the season strongly, with drivers Massa and Alonso first and second in the drivers' championship and the team leading the constructors' chase by 10 points.

However, Alonso remains undeterred by the latest mechanical setback as he chases a third world title.

"I don't think it will be a big problem," said Alonso, who won back-to-back world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006.

"In the winter we've been pushing our engines to the limits of mileage and after finishing the life of the engine we did some tests and saw that the performance lost was very low.

"I don't see any reason not to be optimistic about this weekend. I think it will be fine." Under the sport's rules laid down by governing body the FIA, the teams are not allowed to tweak their engines once they have been used on the track.

However, the teams are allowed to ask for permission to work on the reliability on any engines that have not been used so long as it does not alter performance.

JONATHAN LEGARD BLOG

Ferrari's head of engine and electronics Luca Marmorini had said earlier this week he was not overly concerned by Alonso and Sauber's engine failures in Malaysia.

"We have carried out an in-depth study and the problems are not related," he told the Ferrari website.

"In Sepang, Fernando's engine suffered a structural failure, of a type we never saw during the winter.

"We believe there was a role played by the unusual way in which the driver had to use the engine during the race, because of the gear selection problems he experienced right from the start.

"Additionally, there is no connection with the problem the BMW Sauber team experienced on the engine front at the last race, which we believe was down to an issue with electronic sensors.

"I'm happy because I think the Ferrari package is quick."



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see also
Hamilton sets China practice pace
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Buemi escapes 200mph China crash
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Chinese GP practice as it happened
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Chinese Grand Prix practice results
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Massa undeterred by Kubica rumour
15 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Ferrari play down engine concerns
14 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso faces first Ferrari test
29 Mar 10 |  Formula 1


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