The FIA report for PU component se has been issued today in advance of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.  A number of drivers have now used five of one or more of the components, so if they have a failure of one of those items at any time they will have a ten place grid penalty for the next race start.  The FIA report is here:


All the drivers who have used five components use the Renault Power Unit.  They are:

Grosjean – five TC;

Maldonado – five ICE, TC, MGU-K and MGU-H;

Vergne – five MGU-K;

Kvyat – five ICE and MGU-K.

With Kvyat having failed to finish in Germany thanks to a fire, I do wonder if the ICE and MGU-K managed to escape without damage.

The remaining Renault powered drivers and all the Ferrari powered drivers have used at least four of one or more Power Unit component.  However, none of the Mercedes powered drivers have yet had to use four of any of their components.  As we are only just over halfway through the season, this is good news for the Mercedes Power Units, and many of their drivers could get to the end of the season without suffering a grid penalty.  Drivers with Renault or Ferrari power would have to be very lucky to make their remaining components last the distance.

The following table shows the distance each driver (or the test driver using their car during free practice 1) has completed during the race weekends to date (distance is in kilometres):


Some of the differences (Rosberg to Hamilton for example) are due to drivers failing to finish races, but I do wonder if we will start to see drivers and teams reduce their running in free practice to try and make their Power Units last the season.   Certainly Toro Rosso have run far more laps than any other Renault powered team (other than Ricciardo), and have the increased component use to show for it.

Alonso and Hulkenberg are the drivers who have scored points in each of the ten races to date, so it appears to average out at around 700km per race weekend, although a rookie like Magnussen is obviously keen to get additional laps in, and his Mercedes Power Unit doesn’t seem to be suffering too much as a result.

The regulations regarding Power Unit Use are:

28.4 a) Unless he drives for more than one team (see 28.4(d) below), each driver may use no more than five power units during a Championship season.

b) For the purposes of this Article 28.4 the power unit will be deemed to comprise six separate elements, the engine (ICE), the motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K), the motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H), the energy store (ES), turbocharger (TC) and control electronics (CE). Each driver will therefore be permitted to use five of each of the above six components during a Championship season and any combination of them may be fitted to a car at any one time. 

c) Should a driver use more than five of any one of the elements a grid place penalty will be imposed upon him at the first Event during which each additional element is used. Penalties will be applied according to the following table and will be cumulative :

Replacement of a complete power unit The driver concerned must start the race from the pit lane. 
The first time a 6th of any of the elements is used Ten grid place penalty
The first time a 6th of any of the remaining elements is used Five grid place penalty
The first time a 7th of any of the elements is used Ten grid place penalty
The first time a 7th of any of the remaining elements is used, and so on Five grid place penalty

e) After consultation with the relevant power unit supplier the FIA will attach seals to each of the relevant components within the power unit prior to them being used for the first time at an Event in order to ensure that no significant moving parts can be rebuilt or replaced.   Within two hours of the end of the post race parc fermé exhaust blanking plates (with one 10mm diameter inspection hole per cylinder) and further seals will be applied to all used power unit components in order to ensure that they cannot be run or dismantled between Events.   Upon request to the FIA these additional seals will be removed after the start of initial scrutineering at the next Event at which the power units are required. All such power units must remain within the team’s designated garage area when not fitted to a car and may not be started at any time during an Event other than when fitted to a car eligible to participate in the Event. 

d) If a driver is replaced at any time during the Championship season his replacement will be deemed to be the original driver for the purposes of assessing power unit usage.
A power unit or any of the six components will be deemed to have been used once the car’s timing transponder has shown that it has left the pit lane.   If a grid place penalty is imposed, and the driver’s grid position is such that the full penalty cannot be applied, the remainder of the penalty will be applied at the driver’s next Event. However, no such remaining penalties will be carried forward for more than one Event. 

f) If any of the FIA seals are damaged or removed from the relevant components within the power unit after they have been used for the first time those parts may not be used again unless they were removed under FIA supervision. 

g) If a power unit or any of the six components within it are changed in accordance with Article 34.2 the power unit components which were replaced may not be used again during any future qualifying session or race with the exception of the last Event of the Championship.

A long time fan of Formula 1 and grass roots motorsport, I am interested in the engineering aspects not only of F1 but the 'men in sheds' who develop homemade specials to take on the products of the big racing car manufacturers.
  • JakobusVdL

    Are the penalties cumulative? For the teams who have multiple elements on five used, it looks like you might as well put in a complete new power unit, take your 15 place penalty in one race.
    There will be lots of strategy work going on, get it right and caterham and marussia could wind up with cars starting in the top 10 grid spots!

  • JakobusVdL

    Oops, judt saw that a complete p/u means a pit lane start. So that would be replace 5 of 6 elements for a 15 place penalty.

    • MIE

      The way I read it, if Maldonado was to replace his complete Power Unit this weekend, that would mean he would start the race with ICE number six, TC number sic, MGU-K number six, MGU-H number six, ES number four and CE number four.
      He would get a ten place penalty four the sixth ICE, plus a five place penalty for the sixth TC, plus a five place penalty for the sixth MGU-K plus a five place penalty for the sixth MGU-H. So a total of a 25 place grid penalty. So if he qualified on pole for this race, he would take 21 of those places and start from 22nd and last at this event, and carry a four place drop to Spa.

  • JakobusVdL

    Hi MIE, on re reading that interpretation of the ‘remaining element’ 5 place penalty makes more sense.
    I’m not sure about the carry over of grid penalties to a subsequent race though. I assume you just wind up at the back of the field in that race.
    Perhaps fake Charlie Whiting could clarify for us?
    If this is correct, more reason to change 5 of 6 elements at a time, and more hope for Caterham ir Marussia to find themselves further uo the grid if they can time their replacements well.

    • JakobusVdl, 28.4(c.) of FIA’s Sporting Regulations has the relevant info you’re seeking:

      As read, MIE’s right, a 10-place penalty for the first “6th” element, then a 5-place for each additional. Another 10 place for the first of “7th” elements, then 5 places for the remainder. The text doesn’t explicitly state what happens if a driver goes beyond a 6th element, but the proviso “and so on” insinuates a pattern-continuation.

      Regarding carryover penalties, here’s FIA’s text:

      “If a grid place penalty is imposed, and the driver’s grid position is such that the full penalty cannot be applied, the remainder of the penalty will be applied at the driver’s next Event. However, no such remaining penalties will be carried forward for more than one Event.”

      Continuing the Maldonado example, If he carried the 4-place penalty to Spa and qualified 19, he’d start 22nd and last, and the final grid penalty would be negated.

      • Sh*t. For clarity, FIA”s regulation “doesn’t explicitly state what happens if a driver goes beyond” a *7th* element. Apologies.

  • JakobusVdL

    Thanks Jeff. Thats going to get very complicated.
    How does it work with multiple cars with grid penalties? If a car in 12th gets a 10 place penalty, and a car in 13th gets a 10 place penalty both go back 9 spots, and carry one over. Thats the simple example, but if there are multiple cars with varying penalties, the further forward cars might only be able to move 1 or 2 spots back, and carry a big penalty to the next race. This could lead to some very mixed grids, and chaos for the mid table teams as the season goes on.
    And do penalties count double in the double pointer race (and carry over to next season? -kidding)
    F1’s motto, ‘why make things easy when with a bit more effort you can make them FRICin’ impossible’ ;-)

    • JakobusVdl, good question. I assume irregardless of grid position, a penalized car/driver moves “back” the number of places designated, the order in which the penalty assessed and resultant grid position being based upon chronology.

      That’s just an assumption, but coincides with how driving penalties are assessed. You’re right, there’s potential for grid goofiness.

  • JakobusVdL

    Cheers Jeff, I think as the season progresses we’ll get to see how the rules are applied. I hope the stewards have given it a bit of thought ;-)