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.