Standard ECU: a step back for ING Renault 

Written by David on November 14th, 2007 at 4:44 pmLast Update: November 14th, 2007 at 4:44 pm

Magneti Marelli ECUBob Bell, ING Renault Technical Director, believes it is obvious that teams including McLaren will begin the 2008 season with an advantage over their rivals. Coinciding with the traction control ban, every team next year must use a standard Electronic Control Unit (ECU). FIA granted the first 3 years to Microsoft McLaren Electronic Systems (MES); a collaboration that involves Ron Dennis’ team.

The initial implementation of the McLaren system met with consternation, and a Renault document recently pointed out that “last summer some teams could hardly start their V8s when they tried the standard ECU for the first time.” Renault is particularly annoyed because its Magneti Marelli electronics system was until 2007 regarded as arguably the best in Formula One. “For a team like ours, which designed a bespoke system, it’s a backward step,” said Bell. He added that it is ‘obvious’ that teams with prior knowledge of the McLaren ECU will have an advantage in 2008, primarily because adapting to the system ‘involved a huge amount of work.’

“All this extra work meant that resources were allocated to an area other than performance,” Bell said. “It’s as if we had to talk to the car in a new language with a new philosophy.” He also said the McLaren ECU is simply not as good. “The system has lower performance,” Bell insisted. “Its capacity, complexity and functions are not on the same level.”

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