As is usual on the Thursday before the Grand Prix the FIA issued report highlighting the Power Unit components used to date:
As the F1 circus prepares for the final race of the year, the report demonstrates just how far in front of the opposition Mercedes are. Remember that the maximum number of complete Power Units (PU) each driver has is four for the entire season. Every Mercedes powered car is within the four PU total, while of the rest, only Sauber have remained within the Four PU limit. This could be because they have remained within the initial specification of 2015 Ferrari PU, and haven’t had the in-season developments that the works team have used to bring them closer to the Mercedes outright pace. This has though been at the cost of using five or six Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) so far.I am sorry to say that I made an error in the last Podcast, and Manor, despite using the 2014 Ferrari PU have not been able to stick within the permitted maximum number for the year. However the 2014 Ferrari was designed to the 2014 rules when five units were allowed for the season.
For Renault, they have used eight ICE in three of the four cars, and the remaining car has used seven so far. While the new specification unit fitted to Daniel Ricciardo’s car has artificially raised his ICE use by one (and the older specification unit is due to be used this weekend), this has been a poor year for Renault. Their reliability has gotten much worse than last year, while the power doesn’t seem to have improved. They can’t even use the Ferrari excuse that they have introduced new units due to in-season development (with the sole exception of the ICE used by Ricciardo last time out).
Honda have definitely had a baptism of fire on their return to F1. While the 2008 car and engine was spectacularly poor, they must surely have been hoping for a more competitive showing than this. They have had neither the required reliability (Fernando Alonso using three times the permitted number of units so far, and Jenson Button only one behind) or competitive power (thanks to problems in storing sufficient energy to last the entire lap). Honda have at least brought different specification PU components to the races, so hopefully they have learned lessons for the development that must take place over the winter.
With only Ricciardo (ICE and CE) and Alonso (ICE, TC, MGU-H and MGU-K) taking new components last time out, there were comparatively few penalties (for what has been a season dominate by grid penalties for PU component changes). Oddly enough, the two drivers at greates risk of a penalty this time out would appear to be Mercedes powered drivers. Both Nico’s (Rosberg and Hülkenberg) have been using their fourth ICE, TC, MGU-H and MGU-K since Singapore. Rosberg has his previous unit fail in flames at Monza, while Hülkenberg had his first unit (ICE, TC, MGU-H and MGU-K) changed early for Bahrain. While I expect Mercedes to probably last the distance, it may just hamper Rosberg’s chances against Lewis Hamilton as the world champion tries yet again for win number 44.