Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Hungaroring, 2011

Fernandes: Lotus must match rivals’ reliability

2011 F1 season

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Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Hungaroring, 2011
Both Lotuses retired in Hungary

More cars are finishing races than ever before as reliability in F1 continues to improve.

But one team is lagging behind this year: Lotus.

Team principal Tony Fernandes has urged his team to raise its game.

The T128 has been the least reliable car on the grid with Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli retiring from four races each due to car problems.

Gearbox problems have been a key weakness for Lotus this year and it was this that sidelined Trulli in Singapore.

Fernandes said: “Jarno suffered again with bad luck, but the reliability issue that ended his race is still something we need to improve on.

“We may be small and we may not have the facilities of the teams ahead of us, but that does not mean our standards should be any lower than them, so we have to make sure in Japan, and at the remaining races, that we are a two car team that can help us guarantee tenth place this year.”

Here’s how all the teams have fared in terms of reliability so far this year:

Retirements by team

Car failures in 2011
Car failures in 2011

Red Bull have had repeated problems with their Kinetic Energy Recovery System, but so far it is yet to cause a retirement. Were it not for Mark Webber’s crash at Monza the team would have a perfect finishing rate.

Virgin have made major strides with their reliability. Last year they suffered 13 breakdowns, more than any other team. So far this year they’ve had just three, though Timo Glock’s failure to start in Istanbul should also be included.

But as ever the most striking thing about reliability in Formula 1 today is how infrequently the cars break down.

So far this year 11% of all starts have ended in a technical failure. That’s less than last year but slightly off the all-time low of 8.7% seen in 2008 – although there were two fewer teams in F1 then.

A new record was set in Valencia as all 24 starters finished the race:

Retirements by driver

Driver Total DNFsAccident Technical failure NC DQ DNQ DNS W
Sebastian Vettel00000000
Pedro de la Rosa00000000
Karun Chandhok00000000
Bruno Senna00000000
Mark Webber11000000
Fernando Alonso11000000
Paul di Resta10100000
Lewis Hamilton22000000
Nico Rosberg22000000
Felipe Massa21100000
Adrian Sutil21100000
Sebastien Buemi21100000
Jenson Button20200000
Jerome D’Ambrosio20200000
Daniel Ricciardo20200000
Vitaly Petrov22000000
Narain Karthikeyan20100100
Nick Heidfeld32100000
Jaime Alguersuari32100000
Rubens Barrichello30300000
Kamui Kobayashi30201000
Michael Schumacher42200000
Pastor Maldonado42200000
Timo Glock41110010
Jarno Trulli40400000
Heikki Kovalainen51400000
Sergio Perez50301010
Vitantonio Liuzzi61310100

NC: Not classified (did not complete more than 90% of the race distance)
DQ: Disqualified
DNQ: Did not qualify
DNS: Did not start
W: Withdrawn

No driver has had more than two retirements due to crashes this year. However Vitaly Petrov was classified after crashing out in Malaysia.

Sebastian Vettel is the only driver to have finished every race this year.

Find updated statistics on reliability throughout the season here:

2011 F1 season

Browse all 2011 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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47 comments on “Fernandes: Lotus must match rivals’ reliability”

  1. The list of retirements is not completely accurate. Di Resta crashed out in Canada and Liuzzi crashed out in Italy. Those were not mechanical.

    1. Di Resta was still classified which is why that one’s not included.

      However Liuzzi’s should be in there and has now been added.

  2. Yes, the reliability is a problem for the sport in my opinion. I wish we would’ve never gotten stuck with that stupid rev limiter… 18.000rpm is just no problem at all for the V8 engines. I’d have less problems with the disappearance of the V10 if we’d have the 2006 spec V8 engines instead… they sounded GREAT, and let’s be honest… as “unfair” as it may be to a driver, nothing is as thrilling as an exploding engine in the front runner’s car when it really matters most…

    Well, at least the 2014 engine formula has a rev limit that probably won’t be reached by the turbo engines anyway (15.000rpm)… but still, with the fuel flow restictions in those, there was no point in introducing a rev limit. Guess it just looks good on paper and is a nice way of satisfying the treehuggers that try to terrorise our sport.

    1. Its not the rev limit as such, its far more that desing and manufacturing processes have matured and enable far more precise parts and less badly made parts.

      And the improved ways to check parts up front and monitor them during their lifecycle means that any parts with weaknesses get replaced before they even get on the car or long before they fail.

      1. Yeah, particularly interesting stat i read somewhere, before each cylinder head is mounted in an engine, it goes through total of 20 hours of magnetic imaging to check for internal cracks and other manufacturing errors. 20 hours each! (I’m almost certain about it since the source i got it from is pretty reliable, but if someone can confirm/disprove it, please say so)

        I’m a bit of a sucker for this kind of F1 pub trivia, so if you have more of this stuff, bring it on.

        1. Here’s one: after one or two races all paint is removed from the entire body of the car. Also to look for tiny fractures.

          1. Actually that would be after every race; except for the back to backs. Also; the fractures are actually detected via ultrasound

    2. I’m missing the engine blow-ups too. Only ten cars can score points, so what difference do the other fourteen cars make? I would love to see the midfield contenders trying to reach that valuable tenth position by risking an engine failure, which would in turn increase the backmarkers’ chances to score a decent result.

  3. I think it’s clear over the winter Lotus focused only on performance as opposed to reliability; following the classic Adrian Newey route of fast but fragile. Sadly Newey does most of his fast but fragile rides in the lead of the race rather than back marking the field.

  4. What gearbox is Lotus using? Red Bull?

    1. Yes; Red Bull gearbox

      1. Probably ones that were just laying around the Redbull hanger made of left over spare parts….

        1. If I remember correctly the deal was for the RBR gearboxes from 2009

        2. You could say the same about the gearboxes that Sauber is using.

          1. Who had 2 failures in Italy ;)

  5. Lucas Alexander Munro
    2nd October 2011, 20:00

    I don’t blame Lotus, if you think about it, they are the only ‘newer’ team to have changed things for this year, Marussia Virgin & HRT both have Cozzie engines like last year, Team Lotus have new Renault engines so they have to adapt to that. Maybe the risks haven’t paid off but you have to admire Lotus for even taking them.

  6. Wasn’t Ricciardo’s result at Monza the definition of a NC finish?

    1. Intersting that NK has 1 mech fault in his 9 races while DR has 2 in his 5

  7. These engines and cars are very mature. Just wait until 2014 when you’re going to have one of the biggest mechanical/electrical revolutions in F1 history. We’ll see then!

    Also, anyone share a light on gearbox technology? I used to remember hearing improvements about gearboxes but now that seems to have dried up. Do they still try to develop them, are they allowed to? Apart from things like Williams low-line gearbox, which is mainly an aero thing anyway.

    I know in 2014, with the 8 fixed ratios for the entire season (lol), you should be seeing some new things. So not so sure if there will be much investment in that department until then.

    1. There isn’t much development on gearboxes mainly as the gearbox tech is very very efficient already; they’ve been around for quite a while these gearboxes. I’m curious why you see fit to lol at the 8 fixed ratios thing though.

  8. Rob and Felipe should concentrate on their race pace I would suggest. It is all becoming a bit embarrassing now, the sooner his is replaced the better. A shame as he is a nice fella, a gallant loser. Almost British qualities!

  9. Nico Rosberg has had the same amount of retirements through accidents as Hamilton, i for one didn’t expect that.
    After the millions of comments on a previous article about Hamiltons troubles this season and him getting a fair amount of critism from readers, it’s not that badas it seems, truth be told. A casual fan would probably guess Hamilton has DNF’d about 5 or 6 times through crashing when actually it’s nowhere near as bad.

    1. Nico had 2 retirements due to accident, both of which was the fault of someone else. One was in Australia when Rubens crashed made a stupid overtaking move from too far back. The other is Monza, due to Liuzzi.

      Hamilton crashed a lot this year, but most of them didnt result in retirement. Mostly he broke his front wing.

  10. No driver has had more than two retirements due to crashes this year. However Vitaly Petrov was classified after crashing out in Malaysia.

    Has anybody else noticed that despite a dozen accidents last year, Petrov has had only one crashing retirement – Malaysia – that was his fault? And even then, he was classified as a finisher. His accidents at Monaco and Monza were both triggered by someone else.

    That’s a massive improvement all-round.

    1. To be fair this only shows terminal accidents. It doesn’t show non-terminal ones. I’m not saying Petrov’s crashed a lot as I don’t remember the stats for that. But it doesn’t show non-terminal accidents.

      1. I don’t think he’s had any non-terminal accidents.

        1. Fair enough; I’m just saying viewing this stat alone isn’t fair as it doesn’t take into account non-terminal accidents. Again, not saying Petrov had any

    2. The only major moment I remember from last year was when he went off at Spa after running on to a wet kerb. That was one of the FP sessions I think.

      1. That was qualifying 1. He was trying to find out if the kerbs were dry enough to be used. Unfortunately they weren’t

  11. I think Button’s wheel falling off in England should count as an accident. It was not a mechanical failure, it was a human error on part of the pit crew and Button’s failure to wait seeing that the right lollypop guy did not lift up as yet.

    Hamilton has a large number of technical failures, but they did not end his races. Broken Floor in Australia, Defective Tyres in Malaysia, Non working KERS in Barcelona, Gearbox in (the time he couldn’t use on of the gears forgot which race).. a number of them. So yeah the tables here are a bit too selective and it does not do the article justice. We the readers want to see all in race technical failures for this year and years before, whether race ending or not.

    Can you do that kieth?

    1. I remember that Hamilton’s KERS was working all through Barcelona. However Jenson’s KERS failed halfway through Valencia. Gearbox 3rd gear failing was last year in Suzuka for Hamilton

    2. We the readers want to see all in race technical failures for this year and years before, whether race ending or not.

      Speak for yourself.

      1. Hear hear

        1. I suspect there have been many minor technical failures on cars during the races which teams/drivers have simply managed. Only technical problems which are race ending or have a significant impact on the race are visible to us and unless the teams or drivers choose to report every minor problem then any list compiled would always be incomplete.

    3. I think Button’s wheel falling off in England should count as an accident. It was not a mechanical failure, it was a human error on part of the pit crew and Button’s failure to wait seeing that the right lollypop guy did not lift up as yet.

      By your own admission, it was human error. It was not an accident. Button didn’t crash into anyone or anything. Therefore, it cannot be counted as an accident.

      1. I think what Ram means is; segregating not accidents vs reliability, but rather driver error vs driver “bad luck;” i.e. was the driver at fault; or not?

  12. When Mike Gascoyne was at Force India, they too had many reliability problems. maybe Fernandes needs to find a new technical director who can set up a rigorous process to check in reliability.

    1. very ironic isn’t it; considering that at the start of last year their philosophy was to get the reliability up first and worry about the performance later

    2. I’m not convinced about Gascoyne either. Renault got succesfull after he left them. But he always maintains that it was because of the structure he created at them.
      Force India also got fairly succesfull, the year after he left them. Maybe he’s the kind of leader who’s good at building, but not at making that last step? Or everybody is fed up with him after a few Years.

      1. Don’t forget he had that cumbersome 111 degree V10 to work with. I’ve always viewed Gascoyne as being able to make a winning, but not a champion, team

      2. maybe after he is gone the team feels motivated to do better. as in case with FI, the same people working under him did a great job in terms of getting on top of reliability problems. VJM02 was more reliable than VJM01 even when VJM02 had new engine, gearbox & hydraulics.

  13. What was Felipe Massa’s mechanical failure? I don’t recall that.

    1. You’ve got me thinking now…

    2. At Catalunya when he stopped due to …….I can’t remember, but it was there.

    3. wasn’t it gearbox related when he stopped at the Nurburgring or Hungaroring?

  14. This really is a credit to Red Bull most of all. After the traumatic start they had last year, what better way to shrug off those issues by no mechanical failures at all this year?

    1. I think in a way this is the sort of performance gap they should have had last year. If they had spent more time during the 2009 winter leading into the 2010 season on reliability; that would have meant less time on the car’s performance

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