APRIL 5, 1999
Pop goes the Supertec
THE recent testing in Barcelona has highlighted a series of problems with Supertec V10 engines. Ralf Schumacher suffered one failure in his Williams, Giancarlo Fisichella lost an engine in his Benetton and both British American Racing drivers also had to put up with blow-ups.
The rebadged Mecachrome V10s, which were themselves rebadged Renault engines, are costing each of the three teams around $23m a year when rebuild charges are included. This is $7m more than last year. There has been some limited development but it has not made much difference in terms of performance.
When the Supertec deal was first announced a number of team owners expressed doubts that Mecachrome had the capacity to provide engines for three teams - Supertec originally wanted to supply four. The problem stated at the time was that there would not be enough specialized dynamometers available to give the engine sufficient testing and they would suffer from poor reliability.
Over the winter the Benetton, Williams and BAR spent a lot of time doing "engine-mapping" tests. What this actually meant was that they were having to do the work which had previously been done on the dynos. Now we are seeing a rash of engine failures.
In the meantime, the owners of Super Performance Competition Engineering are laughing all the way to the bank...
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