Despite a false start (where the first FIA Technical Delegate’s Report issued on Thursday showed that every driver was on his first element for every component of their Power Unit), the correct report was published as usual on the Thursday before the race:
In China it was the Renault powered teams turnn to have problems, with Danial Ricciardo needing a complete new Power Unit over the course of the weekend. He fitted his second ES and CE prior to running in Free Practice 1, and the remaining elements (ICE, TC, MGU-H and MGU-K) in the gap between Free Practice 3 and Qualifying. Given how successful the race was for the Red Bull driver, it was worth the effort the mechnics put in to get the car out just in time to get through Q1.
The works Renault drivers also fitted a new MGU-H (their second) prior to Free Practice 3 on the Saturday in China. It could be that Renault are also now planning on taking some tactical grid penalties in order to catch Ferrari and Mercedes.
As I write this on the Friday evening of the Baku weekend, no driver has fitted any further Power Unit elements so far this weekend. Given the reduced number of elements available this season (three ICE, TC and MGU-H while only two MGU-K, ES and CE) it is hoped that there will be a large number of the races where no driver needs to fit any new Power Unit element. It is also concerning that the previously most reliable elements (the ES and CE) have been the most common to be replaced so far this year.
With this circuit having the highest top speeds on the calendar, it is possible that the Power Units are put under more strain here than elsewhere, but the ICE, TC and MGU_H will have to last for seven complete race weekends, and this is only round four.