Formula One title contender Michael Schumacher had a scare on Friday when Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa suffered an engine failure in practice for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
However, Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn sounded optimistic that the German, two points adrift of Renault’s Fernando Alonso with three races remaining, was in no danger of a similar setback.
Brawn said Ferrari were partly stripping Massa’s engine to get a clearer picture of the problem although first impressions were positive.
“We need to understand it, because it’s an engine specification that we’ve run a lot of and not had a problem,” he told reporters.
“There’s a chance that the type of failure we had could be caused by something dropping into the inlets, something going through the engine, which is a peculiar failure.
“So if that is the case… then we shouldn’t have concerns.”
Seven times world champion Schumacher has yet to score a point in China after two visits to the Shanghai circuit.
Sunday’s race will be his last chance before retirement at the end of the season.
Massa’s problem will cost the Brazilian 10 places on the starting grid, denting the team’s hopes of stretching their three point lead over champions Renault in the constructors’ standings.
He had sat out the day’s opening practice session before the problem in the afternoon that led to an unscheduled change and the penalty.
“It’s a shame as the car seemed to be well balanced right from the start and I had been able to do some good times,” said the Brazilian, a first-time winner in Turkey last month.
“Of course dropping 10 places on the grid will make my race much tougher, but I believe I can still put in a good performance.”