Power Unit Use – Update before Spain

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On the Thursday before the Grand Prix in Barcelona (cue Todd’s Feddie Mercury clip) the FIA issued their regular report into the power unitelements used to date:

As discussed in the comments last time there were a lot of new power unit elements used for the first time in Russia, with Stoffel Vandoorne taking the first grid penalties in only the fourth race of the year.

Internal Combustion Engine – ICE new elements were fitted for the following seven drivers:

  • Daniel Ricciardo;
  • Max Verstappen;
  • Romain Grosjean;
  • Jolyon Palmer;
  • Marcus Ericsson;
  • Pascal Wehrlein.

This was the second ICE fitted for each of these drivers, leaving only the six Mercedes powered drivers on their original ICE for the race in Sochi.  Worrying when each element will need to last on average five complete race weekends.

Turbocharger – TC six drivers took their second TC at Sochi:

  • Daniel Ricciardo;
  • Max Verstappen;
  • Kevin Magnussen;
  • Marcus Ericsson;
  • Pascal Wehrlein.

Four drivers fitted their third TC:

  • Sebastian Vettel;
  • Kimi Räikkönen;
  • Fernando Alonso;
  • Romain Grosjean.

Leaving Stoffel Vandoorne who fitted not only his fourth TC for Free Practice 1, but his fifth for the remainder of the weekend leading to a grid penalty.

Motor Generator Unit – Heat – MGU-H as for the TC, six drivers took their second MGU-H at Sochi:

  • Daniel Ricciardo;
  • Max Verstappen;
  • Kevin Magnussen;
  • Marcus Ericsson;
  • Pascal Wehrlein.

Only two drivers fitted their third MGU-H:

  • Fernando Alonso;
  • Romain Grosjean.

Again Stoffel Vandoorne fitted his fourth MGU-H for Free Practice 1,and his fifth for the remainder of the weekend adding to his grid penalty.

Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic –  MGU-K no one fitted a new MGU-K over the Grand Prix weekend in Russia.

Energy Store – ES two drivers used their second ES over the Sochi weekend:

  • Esteban Ocon;
  • Felipe Massa.

While Stoffel Vandoorne fitted his third ES element,

Control Electronics – CE three drivers needed their second CE of the year in Russia:

  • Romain Grosjean;
  • Kevin Magnussen;
  • Jolyon Palmer.

While again Stoffel Vandoorne used his third element.

In Spain, before Free Practice 1 the works Mercedes team fitted their second ICE, TC, MGU-H and MGU-K.  This is a race early if the team was to divide the season into four equal length sections, but as they have updated the Power Unit, it makes sense to introduce it in Spain which has greater power demands than Monaco which would mathematically be the race to introduce the new power unit.  Both Ferraris and both Saubers also fitted their second MGU-K, with the Saubers also fitting a new CE (Ericsson’s second and Wehrlein’s third.

Fernando Alonso’s smoky failure in Free Practice 1 lead to a new ICE, TC, MGU-H and MGU-K being fitted before the second session.  This was the third ICE and MGU-K but the fourth and final TC and MGU-H.  With Honda’s poor reliability this season either Alonso is going to pick up penalties this race, or Jenson Button will start Monaco from the back of the grid.  No wonder Button isn’t keen to get into the car in advance of Monaco.

With power unit development unrestricted this season, it is only Mercedes who has been able to develop their power unit penalty free, the other manufacturers have used more than one of their opening specification power unit, restricting how many updated power units they can use in the rest of the year without penalty.  Unfortunately it looks like power unit penalties will again be significant in the outcome of the title.

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jakobusvdl

Thanks for the update and analysis, Dave. Things are looking good for Mercedes, and Mercedes p.u teams. It seems like Ferrari and Renault powered teams are likely to have to take penalties, or at least won’t be able to introduce ungrades, and Honda’s woes show no signs of abating. But, hey ho, it’s a technical sport, the best technical solution deserves to win. I hope that there will still be lots of races, in between penalised events, where Ferrari and Red Bull can race and beat Mercedes, even if Mercedes are likely to romp away with the championship. I wonder… Read more »

MIE

I don’t think Red Bull have used enough power unit elements to make that much of a difference. At least not yet.
If the constructors championship remains as close as it is currently then it could be the deciding factor. For the drivers title, it may offset the points that the Mercedes pair take off each other. Hoping for a close title battle until the final race.
There is still time for Mercedes to suffer reliability issues, Bottas has had to revert back to the earlier spec power unit after problems found overnight.

Salvu Borg

Aren’t 44 AND 77 on their second PU? With 77 having to revert back to his 1st PU after FP1 and 2. or am I mistaken?

MIE

No, you are correct. It is as stated in the article, Mercedes fitted the second ICE, TC, MGU-H and MGU-K to both cars before FP 1. The team broke the curfew to fit Bottas’ original power unit overnight.

Salvu Borg

ok, so I was correct, and thanks, do you know if Mercedes introduced any updates in their new PU? Am asking because the lap times differences between 44 with the new claimed upgraded PU and 77 with a 4 race weekends old PU doesn’t point that way.

MIE

They have updated their power unit according to AUTOSPORT, but for improved reliability rather than increased power.

Salvu Borg

Thanks for that information MIE, As I said qualifying (pole and 2nd place didn’t shown me there being any power upgrades on number 44 PU when compared to number 5 using 4 race weekends old ICE.

MIE

For free practice 3 Vettel had his second ICE fitted (does anyone know if Ferrari have introduced any updates to their power unit yet?), Ricciardo and Kvyat fitted their second MGU-K (presumably the lighter 2017 item), while Honda’s woes continued with Vandoorne requiring his fourth ES and CE.

No penalties for this race yet.

MIE

Vettel needed a new TC and MGU-H before qualifying. His fourth and third respectively.

Salvu Borg

Vettel is using his 4th TC BUT his 1st ICE FOR RACE.

MIE

More Honda problems. Vandoorne has needed another ES and CE fitted before the race. As this is his fifth of each component he will be sure to suffer grid penalties.

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Clayton Brown

So if I remember correctly you get 4 ICE’s and the 5th one gets a penalty? But what about the other elements like TC, MGU, etc? Are these other pieces unlimited?

MIE

There are six elements that make up a power unit: ICE; TC; MGU-H; MGU-K; ES; CE. Each car (driver) gets four complete power units for the twenty race season. If they need to use more then the driver gets a penalty the first time that element is used. Ten places for the first element used, and a further five places for each subsequent element in that power unit. So Vandoorne had a fifteen place grid penalty in Sochi for using his fifth TC and MGU-H, and a ten place grid penalty for using his fifth ES and CE. At the… Read more »