Power Unit Use – update before Belgium

This update has been written a little earlier than usual, as I am in the fortunate position of going to Spa, so I won’t be able to write the update on the Thursday before the race. The Power Unit (PU) components used have therefore been taken from the reports given prior to the Hungarian GP rather than the FIA’s report published prior to the Belgian race.  There may therefore be some slight differences in the figures, although I hope not.

As explained last time, as the circuit in Hungary is tight and twisty, the power demands placed on the PU are low compared to the upcoming races in Spa and Monza, so few teams chose to use any new components for the race.  The exception was McLaren, who fitted new components (from their ‘free’ fifth allocation) as the nature of this circuit gave them the best chance to score some valuable points.  With the result from Hungary it is fair to say they were correct to use those components at that time.

For the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), both McLaren drivers used their sixth unit, while the only other driver to use a new item was Roberto Mehri, who used his fourth Ferrari ICE.   The same three drivers took a new Turbo Charger (TC) in Hungary, a sixth for Fernando Alonso, a Seventh for Jenson Button and a fourth for Roberto Mehri.  It was the same story for the Moto Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H) with sixth, seventh and fourth units being used.  For the other Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K) only the McLaren pair used new items.  Here Alonso used two new units (his fourth and fifth) not because there was a problem, but so that he had access to the units for the rest of the season without penalty (I think).  Button took his sixth MGU-K.  Only Felipe Nasr needed a new Energy Store (ES), his third, While Alonso, Carlos Sainz and Nasr took new Control Electronics (CE), fifth for Alonso and the third unit for the other two drivers.

Now that we have passed the halfway point in the season, we can see which drivers are on track to get to the end without further penalties, and that does seem to be limited to the four Mercedes powered teams, and the Ferrari powered Saubers. Everyone else has used at least three ICE and TC, while most have used at least three MGU-H and a fair number three MGU-K.

The summer break would be the ideal time for the PU manufacturers to use the tokens that they have for development, especially with the next two races having a high power demand.  Perhaps Ferrari will even allow Sauber to have some of the developments the works team have already benefitted from?

The average life of the PU components is shown in the following graphs.  The lines show the spread of the average distance each component has been used for taken across all the drivers using that manufacturers parts.





For Mercedes, Nico Rosberg has made each component go the furthest averaging 3743.5 km for each of his two complete PU used to date, while Nico Hülkenberg is responsible for the lowest figure for ICE, TC, MGU-H and MGU-K as he has used three of each, with Pastor Maldonado’s shorter distance covered is responsible for the low scores for the ES and CE.

For Ferrari, it is the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson who is responsible for the longest surviving ICE, TC and GU-H (by virtue of only using two components) while Sebastian Vettel covers the longest distances for the MGU-K, ES and CE.  The shortest distances are more evenly spread between the teams, with Roberto Mehri getting through the ICE, TC and MGU-H quickest, while Will Stevens takes over for the MGU-K and Kimi Räikkönen for the ES and CE.

The Renault figures highlight the struggles the Red Bull team are having.  Carlos Sainz has the longest lasting ICE, TC and ES, while Daniil Kvyat takes the prize  for MGU-H and MGU-K with Daniel Ricciardo making the CE go further.  The shortest distances are largely down to Red Bull though, Ricciardo for ICE, MGU-H and MGU-K, while Kvyat takes TC and ES.  Max Verstappen has got through CE faster though.

With only McLaren running Honda PU the honours such as they are are shared evenly between the two drivers.  Alonso making the TC, MGU-H and MGU-K last longer, while Button takes the ICE, ES and CE.  The worrying thing for Honda, is that with an average distance of a race weekend being between 600-900 km, each of their components would struggle to last for a complete weekend, let alone two.  Honda have also announced that they are spending some of their tokens to revise the combustion chamber on their ICE, so if these are used for SPA, both Alonso and Button will receive yet another penalty.  Other than Honda the driver most likely to get a penalty in Spa is Daniel Ricciardo, this is because he only has one ICE left (the other four all having self destructed) and that has gone three race distances already, so it may struggle to get through the complete weekend.


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Fred Talmadge

I don’t have a problem with hybrids and the other power units. It’s the regulations governing their use that confuses me. I guess it’s suppose to reduce costs, but I wonder.


It has certainly reduced the number of engines required per team. In the last turbo era it wasn’t unusual for a driver to go through three or four engines in a race weekend.
Whether it has actually reduced costs is harder to say, as we don’t have a control sample to measure against. Given F1’s ability to spend money, I suspect that the top teams budgets would be the same no matter what the regulations. When testing was limited, they spent their cash on simulators, similarly with wind tunnels and CFD.