Power Unit Use –Update before Monza

The battles at the front of both the drivers and constructors championships have driven Mercedes to introduce their latest Power Unit development early.  With both works drivers using their fourth Internal Combustion Engine, Turbocharger and Motor Generator Unit-Heat after their third of these elements had only been on the car for two events (Britain and Hungary).  Both Spa and Monza will benefit from the extra power produced by this latest development, and with the Ferrari’s being so close in Belgium perhaps Mercedes are justified in introducing this upgrade early.  However they now have to either revert to the earlier specification (lower power) elements for some of the remaining races (but only Singapore seems to be undemanding on power) or they will need to take grid penalties as no Power Unit in this era of regulation has lasted for nine races.

Alternatively, with the rules on the amount of oil that an ICE can consume changing, it may be simply that Mercedes want to introduce these new elements under the older rules (1.2 litres of oil per 100km) compared to the rules that apply to any elements introduced from now on (0.9 litres of oil per 100km).  Mercedes will still need to be able to meet these rules for their customer engines, so it isn’t as if they will get away without having to spend time doing this development.

Mercedes weren’t the only team fitting new elements in Belgium.  The details are as follows:

Internal Combustion Engine – ICE  Nine drivers had new ICE fitted, nearly half the field:

  • Lewis Hamilton (4);
  • Valtteri Bottas (4);
  • Max Verstappen (4);
  • Stoffel Vandoorne (5 & 6);
  • Daniil Kvyat (5);
  • Romain Grosjean (4);
  • Kevin Magnussen (4);
  • Jolyon Palmer (4);
  • Pascal Wehrlein (4).

With Vandoorne having two ICE fitted in one weekend, he will only have the element used in the race for future events.   In addition to the drivers taking their fourth IE in Belgium both Daniel Ricciardo (4) and Fernando Alonso (6) will get grid penalties if they need to fit another element before the end of the season.  As stated above, with a further eight races to go, it is likely that most of these will get a penalty before the end of the year.

Turbocharger – TC  Five drivers fitted a new TC before the race at Spa:

  • Lewis Hamilton (4);
  • Valtteri Bottas (4);
  • Stoffel Vandoorne (8 & 9);
  • Daniil Kvyat (5);
  • Marcus Ericsson (4).

Again, Vandoorne will only be able to use the TC that he raced with in future events.  A further eight drivers have now used all of their available TC, so over half the field are likely to get a grid penalty for requiring more than four TC for the season.

Motor Generator Unit – Heat – MGU-H The same five drivers who had a new TC fitted also fitted a new MGU-H.  As these elements are often changed together, it isn’t really surprising that the same numbered elements were fitted, with again Vandoorne losing the use of MGU-H number 8 for the rest of the season.   However there is a change in the number of TC and MGU-H used for some drivers, both works Ferraris and the Haas drivers have used 4 TC yet only 3 MGU-H, while the Red Bull drivers; Sainz and Hülkenberg have used one more MGU-H each than the TC total (5 MGU-H for Ricciardo and 4 for Verstappen, Sainz and Hülkenberg).  The end result is there are a further seven drivers who will get a penalty if they need another MGU-H in the remaining eight races, again over half the field in total for this element.

Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic – MGU-K  Only Stoffel Vandoorne needed a new MGU-K, and he fitted two new elements over the course of the weekend (5 & 6), with only the latter being available for him to use in the remainder of the year.  Only his team mate (also on 6 MGU-K) has used more than three of this element to date.  So it may be only McLaren who get penalties for excessive use of the MGU-K.

Energy Store – ES  Six drivers fitted a new ES over the course of the weekend:

  • Esteban Ocon (3);
  • Lance Stroll (2);
  • Stoffel Vandoorne (6);
  • Romain Grosjean (3);
  • Kevin Magnussen (3);
  • Pascal Wehrlein (3).

Only one element fitted for Vandoorne, so at least he hasn’t thrown one away this time.  Also, as for the MGU-K it is only the McLaren pair that have used more than three ES, so everyone else should get to the end of the year without penalty for this element.

Control Electronics – CE  Three drivers fitted new CE in Belgium:

  • Stoffel Vandoorne (6);
  • Romain Grosjean (3);
  • Kevin Magnussen (3).

As for the MGU-K and ES it is only the McLaren pair who have used more than three CE.

The FIA report on the number of elements used to date will be published on the Monza – Event and Timing Information page.

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Hi Dave, thanks for the update. I’m just catching up on the posts, so hadn’t read this before the race. Very interesting speculation on the potential reasoning for Mercedes introducing the fourth set of p.u elements at this race. Particularly the fact this means their p.u’s are not subject to the new oil usage rate restrictions. Can you offer any explaination, or links that fully explain how this oil burning is being used to enhance performance? I saw a Scarbs comment that the oil is being used to introduce additives into the combustion process that aren’t allowed in the fuel,… Read more »


Unfortunately no, I can’t offer any explanation. It seems that Ferrari have accused Mercedes of deliberately burning oil, and Mercedes have said it is Ferrari who are bending the rules. Personally, I have a lot of time for Colin Chapman’s response when one journalist complained about the oil consumption of one of his cars:
“Of course it uses oil, what do you think is lubricating it ? The ones you’ve got to worry about are the ones that don’t use any…..”

Paul KieferJr

In terms of fuel, oil + gas = diesel.


More like 2-stroke pre mix fuel. With 2-strokes, putting too much oil in the mixture would reduce the power of the engine. But then the oil was for lubrication only, not an additive to increase the chemical energy of the mixture.
This could be tackled by specifying the allowed components in the engine oil, but perhaps the fuel/oil companies would complain that would restrict their opportunities for development of improved lubricants.