Power Unit Use – Update before Canada

On the Wednesday before the Monaco Grand Prix, the FIA report into the number of power unit elelments that the drivers had used was issued:

Monaco PU Use

Before the start of free practice on the Thursday, several divers installed new elements.  Despite this not being a power hungry circuit, as the sixth race of the year it made sense for new components to be fitted to some cars (drivers have a maximum of five complete power units to last the 21 races, so each should last between four or five complete race weekends).  Sensibly, teams should plan to introduce updates to their power units when they are due to get new components as they are close to the end of their expected life.  However the pressure of competition has meant that Ferrari introduced their first upgraded ICE early (in Russia), while Honda’s unreliability has meant new components for their drivers, so the upgrade will appear later in the season.  Renault were due to bring their upgraded ICE for all four of their drivers in Canada, but the performance improvement shown in testing in Barcelona meant it was introduced early for one driver from each of their teams (production times not allowing any more parts to be produced in time).

The end result was:
new ICE for Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso;
new TC for Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen and Marcus Ericsson;
new MGU-H for Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen;
new MGU-K for Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen;
new ES for Nico Rosberg, Kevin Magnussen, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz, Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez;
new CE for Nico Rosberg, Carlos Sainz, Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

Drivers in really good shape as far as power unit use is concerned are Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez and Pascal Wehrlein, as they have managed six races on their original power unit.  They should have no difficulty in making the remaining four units last for the fifteen races left. Tellingly they are all using Mercedes power units, which have been the most reliable since the introduction of this 1.6 litre hybrid formula in 2014.  Unfortunately, they driver in the worst shape with regard to power unit use is also a Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton, who has used four TC and four MGU-H due to a couple of repeated faults.  Max Verstappen is on his fourth CE (which is unusual as these components along with the ES have been the most reliable over the past couple of years) no one else has used four components so far.  Sebastian Vettel is on his third ICE (and has been since Russia) while Fernando Alonso used his third ICE, third ES and third CE for the first time in Monaco.  Marcus Ericsson used his third TC for the first time in Monaco, while Jolyon Palmer used his third CE for the first time in Spain.  These drivers may have difficulty getting to the end of the season without some grid penalties, as they run out of life on their components towards the end of the season.

With Honda leaving it until the last moment to decide if they will introduce their upgraded power unit in Canada, the token spend so far in developing the power units since 2015 is:
Ferrari 26 spent (6 remaining);
Mercedes 21 spent (11 remaining);
Honda 18 spent (14 remaining);
Renault 11 spent (21 remaining).

The timing of when those tokens are spent could have a big impact on not only the competitiveness of the cars, but whether drivers are subject to penalties in the later part of the season.