Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc’s SF1000 car in last week’s Belgian Grand Prix had to resort to two compressed air supplies during pit stops to overcome a loss of pressure in the pneumatic valve recall system. If a sealing gasket broke, it has to be verified that the 6-cylinder distribution system was not affected before the Italian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place this week at the Monza Circuit.
Charles Leclerc concluded the race at Spa with two air refills due to a leak in the pneumatic valve return system of the engine. The first team to introduce this solution in F1 was Renault in 1986 and since then all engines are equipped with this solution to avoid the “flickering” of the valves, especially when the engine speed had reached around 20 thousand rpm.
On the SF1000 there is a compressed air cylinder that is placed under the radiators in the left belly that feeds a high pressure system that allows the instant recall of the valves, having replaced the traditional springs, much heavier and less reliable, according to Motorsport Italy.
Each team knows perfectly what the air consumption per lap is, so it happens that there may be a small leak in the system that can be remedied with a “top-up” that can be done by a mechanic during the pit stop.
In the side of the Rossa, in fact, there is a small door that opens inwards (note the arrow that indicates the opening) within which you can make the “full” of air from a cylinder by hand that is connected to the compressed air circuit, putting pressure back on a system that otherwise can cause the failure of the 6 cylinders.
On the SF1000 of Charles two interventions were necessary: the first one at lap 10 which lengthened the stop to 10″4 and the second at lap 29 with a stop of 5″0. The fact that one intervention was not enough indicates that the air leakage was much greater than expected, a sign that a gasket must have broken on engine 2 of Monaco.
Charles finished the race fourteenth behind his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, but the question that is legitimate to ask is if the 065/2 suffered in the distribution system when the air pressure had dropped in a worrying way?
In short, the reliability of Charles’ engine may be at risk for Monza, the “temple of speed” where the engines are in full for 79% of the lap?