Renault have confirmed that a software glitch caused Nico Hulkenberg’s MGU-K issue in China, rather than a failure of the component itself.
The German retired from the Chinese Grand Prix and Formula 1’s 1000th Championship race on lap 16.
Originally thought to be another MGU-K failure, the power unit element which has plagued the team and their customers all season, Renault have now claimed that a software glitch was the source of the problem – a new-spec MGU-K had been introduced for the Chinese GP weekend.
“It’s too early to say exactly what happened,” team principal Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.
“But we had the problem in Melbourne, and a very quick reaction in Bahrain for one part only for Carlos [Sainz].
“We had to push massively on production in order to get more parts, which meant that we had to fast track some of the process and some of the sign-off that we do.
“And basically something was triggered that we had not had the time to properly sign off. It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact.
“All of the other cars have worked without any problem using the same part. We’ve covered 5000kms on the dyno with that part.
“It’s just for one particular reason we went into a mode which triggered something in the software.”
Abiteboul hopes this will save Hulkenberg from needing a new MGU-K come the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“We think it’s a software issue, we think we need to change something on the software to deal with something that was changed in the hardware,” explained the Frenchman.
“That’s why we were hoping to try and fix it in the course of the race.
“Maybe it was not broadcast, but there were a number of actions that Nico was trying to do.
“He could not go as far as rebooting the whole car. That’s almost what was necessary. If you want to drive the car now, you could, it’s working absolutely fine!
“It’s a typical software problem – you have a ‘freeze’ you need to reboot. It’s pretty much what we were trying to do on track, but it didn’t work.”