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Ferrari still looking for answers after recent F1 reliability issues

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Ferrari Formula 1 technical chief Mattia Binotto has conceded the team does not yet fully understand the engine issues that hit both its cars in last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

After suffering a double DNF following a first-lap clash in Singapore, Ferrari lost yet more ground to Mercedes in both championships last time out in Malaysia despite appearing to be the faster team.

A turbo issue on Sebastian Vettel’s power unit prevented the German from taking part in qualifying, leaving him to fight from the back of the grid to finish fourth, while Kimi Raikkonen did not even start the race due to a problem on his engine.

Asked whether the problems had been solved ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Binotto conceded Ferrari was still yet to get to the root of them.

“You can never be fully confident of solving the problems you have got,” Binotto said.

“It’s true that the problems we had were completely unexpected. There are problems that we did not experience both at the dyno or at the race track during the entire season.

“There were some quality issues with the parts. We failed an inlet manifold of the engine, from the compressor to the cylinder heads, and it happened twice, because we had the same problem with Sebastian in qualifying and Kimi in the race.

“Obviously it happened twice in Malaysia, in an entire season, so certainly some boundary conditions have affected the overall reliability. This is something that we are analyzing.

“Obviously in parallel, we reinforce the components, but it’s something which we still need to better understand.”

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne responded to the Malaysia defeat by saying changes would be made within the team to prevent a repeat, with Binotto confirming upcoming tweaks to the quality department to work against further failures.

“I think that to improve your performance you need to improve your car and your package but as well you need to improve your organization,” Binotto said.

“What we are considering is something, already planned, is to improve our quality department. Our quality department will be and somehow is already reinforced, and those are the changes that our chairman was meaning.”

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”