Ferrari customer teams running new ICEs in Australia, Mercedes change exhaust systems

Michelle Foster
Valtteri Bottas' Alfa Romeo stripped back. Melbourne March 2023

Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas' C43 stripped back. Melbourne March 2023

Ferrari are not the only team running through parts early this season with all four customers cars taking new ICEs at the start of the Australian Grand Prix weekend.

Last season Ferrari’s performance, as well as that of Haas and Alfa Romeo, was handicapped when the team was forced to turn down the engines due to reliability concerns.

That, though, was expected to be resolved over the winter with the team insisting their reliability woes had been fixed.

There was also speculation in the media that Ferrari would head into 2023 with an extra 30bhp, most of that regained through reliability fixes.

Carlos Sainz declared during pre-season testing that the “engine is good, I have no doubts” while his new team boss Fred Vasseur said they’d done a “good job at the factory” and that he believed they were in a “good place”.

As for this customers, Haas team boss Guenther Steiner said he was told by former Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto in December that the new Ferrari power unit will go “like a rocket”

But while it has been suggested the Ferrari PU is the most powerful engine on the grid, reliability is once again hurting the team and its customers.

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Charles Leclerc was already taking engine penalties at round two of the championship, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as his SF-23 was fitted with its third Control Electronics unit with both drivers also moving onto their second Internal Combustion Engines.

One race later Haas and Alfa Romeo have befallen the same fate, all four customer cars fitted with new ICEs in Melbourne on Friday.

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With only three penalty-free ICEs available for each driver in a single season, all three Ferrari-powered teams are on the cusp of penalties.

Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas have also taken new exhaust systems in Melbourne. They’ve been joined on that by all four the Mercedes-powered teams; Mercedes, McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams. Drivers have eight penalty-free exhaust systems per season.

Yuki Tsunoda has taken a new gearbox.