Power Unit Use – Austria…are there 9 penalties coming?

Unusually the FIA have not published on the website, their usual report into the power unit elements used prior to the start of the race weekend in Austria.  They have published the usual reports into the new power unit elements that have been fitted during the free practice and qualifying sessions for this Grand Prix.  For those that are interested, the reports are here.

Before Free Practice one a significant number of new elements were fitted, as detailed in Technical Report 8.

Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) – The following drivers fitted their third ICE:

  • Daniel Ricciardo;
  • Max Verstappen;
  • Carlos Sainz;
  • Romain Grosjean;
  • Kevin Magnussen;
  • Nico Hülkenberg;
  • Marcus Ericsson;
  • Pascal Wehrlein.

While Stoffel Vandoorne fitted his fourth (and final allowed) ICE.

Turbocharger (TC) – Many of the same drivers fitted a new TC, the following list fitted their third element:

  • Daniel Ricciardo;
  • Max Verstappen;
  • Carlos Sainz;
  • Nico Hülkenberg;
  • Marcus Ericsson;
  • Pascal Wehrlein.

While these drivers fitted their fourth TC:

  • Romain Grosjean;
  • Kevin Magnussen.

Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H) – Four drivers fitted their third MGU-H before Free Practice 1:

  • Romain Grosjean;
  • Kevin Magnussen;
  • Marcus Ericsson;
  • Pascal Wehrlein.

While Jolyon Palmer fitted his fourth MGU-H.

Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K) – Again it was the Haas and Sauber drivers who fitted their third MGU-K:

  • Romain Grosjean;
  • Kevin Magnussen;
  • Marcus Ericsson;
  • Pascal Wehrlein.

Energy Store (ES) – Two drivers fitted a new ES, it was Daniil Kvyat’s third and Jolyon Palmer’s second element.

Control Electronics (CE) – The following three drivers all fitted their third CE:

  • Daniil Kvyat;
  • Carlos Sainz;
  • Jolyon Palmer.

Before Free Practice 2, Sergio Perez fitted his second ES, as notified in Technical Report 10.

Technical Report 21 identifies that prior to Free Practice 3, three drivers fitted their fourth MGU-H:

  • Daniel Ricciardo;
  • Max Verstappen;
  • Nico Hü

While Jolyon Palmer needed his second new ES of the weekend (taking his total to three of these elements used so far).

No report was issued for qualifying, so I am assuming that no new elements were required to be fitted.  As a result there are no grid penalties for power unit use this time out (unless someone needs a new part fitted prior to the race.  The following table is my calculation of the power unit elements used so far this season.

It is entirely possible that I may have missed a report from Azerbaijan or one from Austria which may add to these components used.  However it is clear that only the Mercedes powered teams are on track to get to the end of the year without penalties, all the others would need to get far more mileage out of their remaining elements than they have gotten from the first pair of power units if they are to get to the end of the year without penalties.  For those that argue that the teams can use the earlier elements on Friday practice sessions, yes this is true, but most of the new elements fitted this weekend were fitted before the Friday practice sessions.  This indicates to me that the teams didn’t have the confidence that the old units would run reliably through Friday in Austria, so I doubt they would be used at other races.  There are also a significant number of drivers who have used all four of at least one element before race nine has even started:

  • Daniel Ricciardo (MGU-H);
  • Max Verstappen (MGU-H);
  • Sebastian Vettel (TC);
  • Fernando Alonso (all elements);
  • Stoffel Vandoorne (all elements);
  • Romain Grosjean (TC);
  • Kevin Magnussen (TC);
  • Nico Hülkenberg (MGU-H);
  • Jolyon Palmer (TC and MGU-H).

So the Ferrari TC looks particularly vulnerable with half of the drivers using the 2017 component already on their last element.  However it is not as bad as the Renault MGU-H where every single driver is on their final penalty free element.  Honda have long since passed the point where they are even worrying about penalties.