Power Unit Use – Azerbaijan…will Vettel finish race?

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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

As we prepare for race eight of the season, the FIA issued its regular report into the number of elements of the power unit that each driver has used.  The report shows the elements used up until the end of the previous race in Canada:

At the Canadian race the Mercedes customer teams (Force India and Williams) finally fitted their second Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), Turbocharger (TC), Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H), Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K) and Energy Store (ES).  This change was late in the season for the teams to make, but it perhaps gives the teams an advantage in the later part of the year as they will be using lower mileage components compared to their rivals.  Daniel Ricciardo fitted his second ES, as the ES and Control Electronics (CE) have no moving parts, they tend to have longer lives than the other power unit elements.

A few drivers also fitted some new elements, this time earlier in the season than ideal.   Daniil Kvyat fitted a new ICE, TC and MGU-H his third of each, he also fitted his second ES and CE.

Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer fitted their third TC.  Fernando Alonso fitted his third ES and CE.  The end result was that no-one suffered any grid penalties for excess PU use in Canada.

Coming to the new elements fitted at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, there were interesting changes at McLaren Honda.  Before Free Practice 1, Fernando Alonso fitted ICE number 4 TC number 6, MGU-H number 6 and MGU-K number 4 while Stoffel Vandoorne used TC and MGU-H number 6.  Then before Free Practice 3 both drivers fitted a new ICE, TC, MGU-H and MGU-K.  As for both drivers had already exceeded their allowance of TC and MGU-H on the Friday, it means that the sixth TC and MGU-H will not be available for use for the rest of the season, yet they will count towards the total grid penalties that both drivers have for this race.  The team have explained that the ICE fitted to Alonso’s car was a development unit with more power, yet they didn’t want to use it at his race where they would be taking grid penalties.  However if the TC and MGU-H are so fragile that they  need to be changed after the Friday free practice sessions, I do wonder when they will be able to use the new upgraded ICE without grid penalties.

Other changes were also made, Max Verstappen fitted his second ES before Free Practice 1 while Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Nico Hülkenberg fitted their third MGU-H before Free Practice 3.

With Jolyon Palmer suffering a fire in Free Practice 3, he may need some new elements to be fitted for the race.  However Sebastian Vettel needed an earlier power unit fitted before qualifying, the ICE and MGU-K were used for the first four race weekends of this season and may well have been used for Friday practice sessions in other races, so it could be stretching the life of this unit.

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Salvu BorgMIEjakobusvdlNegative CamberKat Schidt Recent comment authors

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salvuborg
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salvuborg

You sounds worried about vetted not finishing thru race

MIE
Editor

I was concerned that Vettel wouldn’t finish given the mileage on the ICE he was using. It just makes me question Ferrari’s choice of when they change their PU elements.

Salvu Borg
Guest
Salvu Borg

Vettel Baku raced engine replaced on Saturday had already covered 3400 km.

MIE
Editor

Salvu, as you keep pointing out, you cannot know this. Ferrari have a media blackout, so they are not telling anyone anything other than the FIA when they fit a new PU element. From this we can tell that ICE number 2 was first used in Spain. Therefore ICE number 1 has covered at least 2738km (the distance covered by Vettel in the first four events). Any estimate you have of the subsequent distance covered by that ICE is pure speculation on your part, as no one outside of the team knows when it was used. Unless you are a… Read more »

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

when “ANYBODY FITS a new power unit element it will be listed in the FIA race weekend report. and that I personally regard as good information.
But as I have said many times, “MIX AND MATCH’ use of “USED” power unit elements only a team can tell, and that goes for all teams and not just FERRARI.
In short apart from the FIA race weekend report showing “ONLY” power unit “NEW” elements usage, when commented about/commented on by some, the situation (those reading understanding) will in most cases get confused.

MIE
Editor

Especially when some comments assume the elements have been used that can not be verified. Like your comment about the ICE being used for 3400 km.

Salvu Borg
Guest
Salvu Borg

Re using (mix and match) used parts cannot be verified outside the team (any team), The FIA race weekend report/s doesn’t cover that.
Reporting the FIA power unite elements use/d is a good thing/service to others following the sports.
The problem/s crops-up when commenting (personal comments) on the subject.
When adding personal comments to the as published by the FIA race weekend report of the power unit elements used, it should be stated that the comments are personal opinion, and so other can only argue on such. (like I was doing all the time you commented.

Kat Schidt
Guest
Kat Schidt

Don’t like the reduction to 4 power units per season one bit, it leaves Renault and Honda in a situation where are up trying to make up the power deficit and end up chasing reliability instead.

Negative Camber
Guest

IF you listened to our season preview podcast, you’ll recall me saying this is my biggest issue with the 2017 regulations because with unlimited development, a 4-engine rule complicates things and I felt this would be the issue everyone was grumbling about toward the second half of the season. And so it could be. :)

MIE
Editor

I do think it will directly impact the championship battle, with Ferrari suffering from grid penalties later in the year. Whether this will be enough to hand the titles to Mercedes and one of their drivers I don’t know, but it could be a factor.

Kat Schidt
Guest
Kat Schidt

I didn’t even know you’d started one tbh, but yeah it certainly seems we agree on that.

Salvu Borg
Guest
Salvu Borg

“biggest issue with 2017 regs” As far as I know 2017 onwards regs were agreed and approved by the 4 engine manufacturers and the strategy group.

MIE
Editor

If you took away the limit on the number of power units, how much would the cost go up?
Also, do you think Mercedes would stand still and let the others catch up?
The regulations apply equally to all the manufacturers, they don’t give any one manufacturer an inherent advantage. There is nothing in the regulations to stop Renault and Honda developing multiple different Power Units and testing them on the dyno until they get a competitive reliable result.

Kat Schidt
Guest
Kat Schidt

It wouldn’t make an enormous difference, the greatest cost is in devloping them, most of which has probably already been recouped by now from their customers. Going back to 5 power units probably adds about another $3 million to overall expenditure, I’d wager that’s less of a hit than all of the points lost due to grid penalties.

MIE
Editor

Five power units wouldn’t help Honda, they have already used seven TC and MGU-H. As for Renault, they have used their third TC and MGU-H on some of the cars, so it is likely that they will need more than five by the end of the year. Even Ferrari have used four TC on Vettel’s car, so it is unlikely that he will get to the end of the year with only five being used. To really help the other manufacturers, you would need to allow unlimited power units throughout the year, and that would certainly drive the cost up,… Read more »

Salvu Borg
Guest
Salvu Borg

See post above you as to who are those that agreed on what is going on.

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

The power unit limits and token system were introduced as a means to constrain costs, and limit the abilty of manufacturers to get into ‘development wars’. If the p.u’s had started with similar performance and reliability, the system would probably be working a treat, with the balance of performance and reliability shifting between the manufacturers, but no one getting too far ahead. Obviously, it hasn’t worked out that way, but what plans do F1 have to fix the problem? Dropping the token system for development, but keeping the sinking lid on p.u components is always going to favour Mercedes p.u’s… Read more »

Salvu Borg
Guest
Salvu Borg

OK, It’s a matter of opinion and in my opinion I don’t agree that Mercedes has the best PU any more. The FIA planes to fix the PU problem, (dropping the tokens system for development, but), I also do not see the new system going to favor Mercedes. 2017-18 and onwards, one of the FIA 4 PU pillars as agreed and approved by the strategy group including PU manufacturers. To reduce cost in 2017 will go down to 4 PU from 5, and down to 3 in 2018 (3 ICE, 3 TURBO, 3 MGUH, 2 ES, 2 CE, 2 MGUK,… Read more »

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

Thanks Salvu, good information about the limits on performance related dimensions, I wasn’t aware of that. While the Mercedes p.u may no longer have an overwhelming performance advantage over Ferrari, it still seems to be ahead of Renault and Honda, and it still appears to be the most reliable. I think the ongoing reduction in p.u elements favours Mercedes as their power output advantage means they’re not chasing increases in output as hard, and their reliability advantage means they can run a planned programme of development and upgrade that they can introduce when it suits. I think that for Honda,… Read more »

MIE
Editor

One thing that I find odd is that McLaren informed the FIA on Monday that they were going to make the changes to Alonso’s car (for Friday and Saturday), but only told the FIA about the Friday changes to Vandoorne’s car. The Saturday changes were communicated on on Friday evening. So they were planning throwing away the TC and MGU-H on Alonso’s car at the beginning of the week but not on Vandoorne’s car until after Free Practice 2.