Power Unit Use – Update before Baku

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The FIA Technical Delegate’s Report issued before the Canadian Grand Prix showed the following Power Unit elements used by each driver:

Europe PU Use

However before free practice started on the Friday a significant number of new components were fitted to the cars.

Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) – new components were fitted for the following drivers:

  • Felipe Massa;
  • Valtteri Bottas;
  • Max Verstappen;
  • Nico Hülkenberg;
  • Sergio Perez;
  • Jolyon Palmer;
  • Felipe Nasr;
  • Jenson Button;
  • Pascal Wehrlein.

For the majority it was only their second ICE (for the seventh race of the season, so well on track reliability wise).  For Nasr and Button though it was their third ICE, so they may struggle later in the year along with Vettel who has been on three ICE used since Russia.  Button’s fresh ICE suffered an oil leak in the first free practice, and they reverted back to the one he had used in Monaco for the rest of the weekend, this had been in the car since China, and failed early in the Grand Prix.  Hopefully the oil leak can be cured without needing another new ICE in Baku.

Turbocharger (TC) – eleven drivers used new components:

  • Sebastian Vettel;
  • Kimi Räikkönen;
  • Felipe Massa;
  • Valtteri Bottas;
  • Max Verstappen;
  • Nico Hülkenberg;
  • Sergio Perez;
  • Jolyon Palmer;
  • Fernando Alonso;
  • Jenson Button;
  • Pascal Wehrlein.

Again, the majority of these were only taking their second TC as part of the planned use of their power units (Canada being much more power hungry than Monaco).  However this was the third component for both Ferrari and Both McLaren Honda drivers, both the result of upgraded components that would hopefully deliver more power.  Following Button’s problems in FP1, the team fitted a new TC, his fourth.  This brings him level with Lewis Hamilton in the number of TC used to date, and almost certain to get a grid penalty for exceeding five before the end of the year.  Also in potential trouble are those drivers who have used three TC (the works Ferrari’s, Marcus Ericsson and Fernando Alonso).

Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H) – twelve drivers had a new MGU-H fitted, the eleven that took a new TC and Felipe Nasr.  Similar to the TC, it was only the second MGU-H for most, but for the works Ferraris, the McLaren Honda’s and Felipe Nasr it was their third. While for the Ferrari and McLaren drivers this was probably linked to the upgraded TC (the two components are often changed together), for Nasr it was an unplanned change (he only used his second component for the first time in Spain).  Once again, McLaren chose to put a fourth MGU-H into Button’s car for the rest of the weekend after his problems in FP1.  Again this puts him level with Hamilton in using four of these components after only seven races, and in line for grid penalties before the end of the season.  The four drivers on three MGU-H (Vettel, Räikkönen, Nasr and Alonso) will also be fortunate to get to the end of the year without some penalty.

Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K) – just ten drivers had new components fitted at the start of the weekend:

  • Felipe Massa;
  • Valtteri Bottas;
  • Max Verstappen;
  • Nico Hülkenberg;
  • Sergio Perez;
  • Jolyon Palmer;
  • Fernando Alonso;
  • Jenson Button;
  • Pascal Wehrlein;
  • Romain Grosjean.

This was the planned second component for all except the McLaren Honda drivers and Romain Grosjean.  Both the McLaren drivers had failures early in the season, so it is not surprising they are out of sync, but Grosjean must have had a failure in Monaco as he only fitted his second MGU-K in Spain.  McLaren again chose to fit a fourth component to Button’s car for FP2, and for the use of this component he heads the field, followed by Alonso and Grosjean on three.  All may struggle to get to the end of the year penalty free.

Energy Store (ES) – only two drivers needed a new component fitted:

  • Lewis Hamilton;
  • Daniel Ricciardo.

For Hamilto it was his third ES, bringing him level with Alonso and potentially in line for penalties before the end of the year.  For Ricciardo it was his second component, so it should not be an issue.

Control Electronics (CE) – three  drivers used new CE in Canada:

  • Lewis Hamilton;
  • Sebastian Vettel;
  • Kimi Räikkönen.

For all of them it was their third of this component, bringing them in line with Jolyon Palmer and Fernando Alonso.  However Max Verstappen is in worse shape having already used four CE.  However in the past two years, the CE and ES have been the most reliable of the Power Unit components, so it should be possible to get to the end of the year without penalties for these parts.

Looking at overall reliability compared to last year, in the first seven race weekends this season Honda have improved dramatically, using one component fewer across the board to get to this point of the season and running hundreds of kilometres further in the process.  Renault have improved, particularly the ICE (Verstappen had used five by this time last year).  Ferrari look like they have gotten worse but this may be due to the odd timing of their upgrades, however it does make them vulnerable to penalties at the end of the year.  Mercedes have maintained their impressive reliability for all except Hamilton, where a couple of failures will cause his difficulties as the season progresses.

We are finally seeing these Power Units converging, just as F1 gets ready to throw everything up in the air with a major rules change for next season.  Still the rest of this season should show some close racing, and a pointer to what we could have had until 2020 if the rules had remained consistent.  Yes Mercedes are still in front at the minute, but both Red Bull (and it’s funny how they seem to be happy to admit they are Renault powered now even if it is badged TAG) and Ferrari are close, while Honda are certainly mid field rather than embarrassing back-markers.

 

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Shane Phillips
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Shane Phillips

I was under the impression Hamilton had used 4 MGU-K units, not 4 MGU-H units.

jiji the cat
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jiji the cat

Thanks mie. Your effort is appreciated.