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After the Monaco race review podcast and in the forum, there has been some discussion on the number of power unit components used by each driver to date.   It was pointed out on both the main page and forum that the FIA publish the number of units used on the Thursday before each race.  On this basis I have collected the data of the usage to date and will see if I can draw any conclusions from the way these have been used through the first six race of the year.

To recap, the Power Unit comprises of the following components:
– Internal Combustion Engine (ICE);
– Turbo Charger (TC);
– Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K);
– Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H);
– Control Electronics (CE);
– Energy Store (ES).

The 2014 Sporting Regulations state:

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

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. 

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.

 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. 

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.

So far the usage of the ICE looks like this (note all these figures relate to the usage after the race – so reflect the FIA data published on the Thursday of the following event):

 Entrant / Driver   Car  Australia Malaysia Bahrain China Spain Monaco
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1 1 2 2 2 3
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1 1 2 2 2 3
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1 1 1 2 2 2
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1 1 1 2 2 2
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1 1 1 2 2 2
Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1 1 1 2 2 2
Romain Grosjean Lotus 1 1 1 2 2 2
Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1 2 2 3 3 3
Jenson Button McLaren 1 1 1 2 2 2
Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1 1 1 2 2 2
Nico Hülkenberg Force India 1 1 1 2 2 2
Sergio Pérez Force India 1 1 1 2 2 2
Adrian Sutil Sauber 1 1 1 2 3 3
Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1 1 1 2 2 2
Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso 1 1 2 2 2 2
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 1 2 2 2 3
Felipe Massa Williams 1 1 1 2 2 2
Valtteri Bottas Williams 1 1 1 2 2 2
Jules Bianchi Marussia 1 1 2 2 2 2
Max Chilton Marussia 1 1 2 2 2 2
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1 1 1 2 2 2
Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1 1 1 2 2 2

 

It looks like most planned for new engines for the long straight in China, however most of the Renault users and Marussia needed a fresh engine in Bahrain.  Only Grosjean and Caterham of the Renault users was able to wait until China, while Maldonado had to use his second ICE even earlier, and appears to be one ahead of the cycle.  Further problems for Red Bull, Sutil and Kvyat meant that they also needed a new ICE for Monaco.  I presume this wasn’t planned, as it is hardly a high  stress environment for engines, with no straight to speak of and about the lowest percentage of the lap at full throttle.

The TC use is as follows:

 Entrant / Driver   Car  Australia Malaysia Bahrain China Spain Monaco
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1 1 1 2 2 3
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1 1 1 2 2 3
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1 1 1 2 2 2
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1 1 1 2 2 2
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1 1 1 2 2 2
Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1 1 2 2 2 2
Romain Grosjean Lotus 1 1 1 2 2 2
Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1 2 2 3 3 3
Jenson Button McLaren 1 1 1 2 2 2
Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1 1 1 2 2 2
Nico Hülkenberg Force India 1 1 1 2 2 2
Sergio Pérez Force India 1 1 1 2 2 2
Adrian Sutil Sauber 1 1 1 2 3 3
Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1 1 1 2 2 2
Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso 1 1 1 2 2 2
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 1 1 2 2 3
Felipe Massa Williams 1 1 1 2 2 2
Valtteri Bottas Williams 1 1 1 2 2 2
Jules Bianchi Marussia 1 1 2 2 2 2
Max Chilton Marussia 1 1 2 2 2 2
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1 1 1 2 2 2
Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1 1 1 2 2 2

 

The Turbo usage maps directly with the ICE usage, but we may see some differences at the next race as there appeared to be a number of turbo failures during the Monaco race.  For both the ICE and TC, those drivers using three components this early in the season (less than a third of the way through) are in trouble.  Also both Renault and Ferrari were talking of bringing new ‘engines’ to the race this weekend.  Now while they may be able to change some components for reliability reasons  during the season, presumably this is only for those units which have yet to be used.  So if any of the current units are used later in the season they will be the old specification (less reliable) units.

The MGU-K usage is:

 Entrant / Driver   Car  Australia Malaysia Bahrain China Spain Monaco
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1 1 2 2 2 3
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1 2 2 2 2 3
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1 1 1 2 2 2
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1 1 1 2 2 2
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1 1 1 2 3 3
Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1 1 1 2 3 3
Romain Grosjean Lotus 1 1 2 2 2 2
Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1 2 2 3 3 3
Jenson Button McLaren 1 1 1 2 2 2
Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1 1 1 2 2 2
Nico Hülkenberg Force India 1 1 1 2 2 2
Sergio Pérez Force India 1 1 1 2 2 2
Adrian Sutil Sauber 1 1 1 2 3 3
Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1 1 1 2 3 3
Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso 1 2 2 2 2 2
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 2 2 2 2 3
Felipe Massa Williams 1 1 1 2 2 2
Valtteri Bottas Williams 1 1 1 2 2 2
Jules Bianchi Marussia 1 1 1 2 3 3
Max Chilton Marussia 1 1 1 2 3 3
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1 1 2 2 2 2
Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1 1 2 2 2 2

 

This is an area where Mercedes seem to have a significant advantage over the others, and where Ferrari have suffered particularly.  All Ferrari power unit users are on their third MGU-K along with half the Renault users.  This is another area where problems could occur.  Remember the grid penalties listed in the FIA regulations 28.4 c) are cumulative, so if a driver needs to use a sixth ICE, TC and MGU-K in one race he will get a twenty place grid penalty.

For the MGU-H the usage is:

 Entrant / Driver   Car  Australia Malaysia Bahrain China Spain Monaco
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1 1 1 2 2 3
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1 1 1 2 2 3
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1 1 1 2 2 2
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1 1 1 2 2 2
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1 1 1 2 2 2
Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1 1 2 2 3 3
Romain Grosjean Lotus 1 1 1 2 2 2
Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1 2 2 3 3 3
Jenson Button McLaren 1 1 1 2 2 2
Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1 1 1 2 2 2
Nico Hülkenberg Force India 1 1 1 2 2 2
Sergio Pérez Force India 1 1 1 2 2 2
Adrian Sutil Sauber 1 1 1 2 3 3
Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1 1 1 2 2 2
Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso 1 1 1 2 2 2
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 1 1 2 2 3
Felipe Massa Williams 1 1 1 2 2 2
Valtteri Bottas Williams 1 1 1 2 2 2
Jules Bianchi Marussia 1 1 2 2 2 2
Max Chilton Marussia 1 1 2 2 2 2
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1 1 1 2 2 2
Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1 1 1 2 2 2

 

This is a bit better overall than the MGU-K, in that Ferrari don’t have an issue with this component.  However the same Renault drivers have used a third component.

The CE is where things get really bad for some drivers:

 Entrant / Driver   Car  Australia Malaysia Bahrain China Spain Monaco
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1 3 3 3 3 4
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1 1 1 2 2 2
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1 1 1 1 2 2
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1 1 1 1 2 2
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1 1 1 2 2 2
Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1 1 2 2 2 2
Romain Grosjean Lotus 1 1 1 1 1 2
Pastor Maldonado Lotus 2 2 2 2 2 3
Jenson Button McLaren 1 1 1 1 2 2
Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1 1 1 1 2 2
Nico Hülkenberg Force India 1 1 1 1 2 2
Sergio Pérez Force India 1 1 1 1 2 2
Adrian Sutil Sauber 1 1 2 3 3 3
Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 2 2 2 3 3 3
Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso 1 1 1 1 1 2
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 1 1 1 1 2
Felipe Massa Williams 1 2 2 2 2 2
Valtteri Bottas Williams 1 1 1 1 2 2
Jules Bianchi Marussia 2 2 2 2 2 2
Max Chilton Marussia 2 2 2 2 2 2
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 2 4 4 4 4 4
Marcus Ericsson Caterham 2 3 3 3 3 3

 

This is the area where the first penalties are likely to be seen with both Vettel and Kobayashi having used four units already.  Also to note is that a lot of these seem to have been changed on failure rather than any planned replacement cycle.  Again the Mercedes powered teams seem to be on track to last out the season, with only Massa having to replace a unit at the second race.

Finally there is the ES usage:

 Entrant / Driver   Car  Australia Malaysia Bahrain China Spain Monaco
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1 1 1 1 2 2
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1 1 1 1 2 2
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1 1 1 1 2 2
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1 1 1 1 2 2
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1 1 1 2 2 2
Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1 1 1 2 2 2
Romain Grosjean Lotus 1 1 1 1 1 1
Pastor Maldonado Lotus 2 2 2 2 2 2
Jenson Button McLaren 1 1 1 1 2 2
Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1 1 1 1 2 2
Nico Hülkenberg Force India 1 1 1 1 2 2
Sergio Pérez Force India 1 1 1 1 2 2
Adrian Sutil Sauber 1 1 2 3 3 3
Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1 1 1 2 2 2
Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso 1 1 1 1 1 1
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 1 1 1 1 1
Felipe Massa Williams 1 2 2 2 2 2
Valtteri Bottas Williams 1 1 1 1 2 2
Jules Bianchi Marussia 1 1 1 2 2 2
Max Chilton Marussia 1 1 1 2 2 2
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 2 3 3 3 3 3
Marcus Ericsson Caterham 2 2 2 2 2 2

 

This is the component with the most variation in how teams are choosing to use their available units.  While Grosjean and the Toro Rosso’s are still on their original Energy Store, both Sutil and Kobayashi are on their third.  Again, Massa is the only Mercedes driver to have needed a change out of sequence, whether the ES failure caused the CE to fail or the other way around is not clear but Massa has been the only Mercedes driver to have to change a component early.

So aside from Mercedes beating Renault and Ferrari on reliability as well as power, what else can we say?  Well at this rate penalties can be expected to start after the next couple of races, and continue pretty much from then until the end of the season.  The first to suffer are likely to be Renault drivers, followed after a few races by the Ferrari powered competitors.  Any Mercedes powered driver will be unlucky to take a grid penalty for using more than their allowance of power unit components.

An interesting question is what have teams actually paid for, is it for five power units per driver (in which case some teams will have to find some extra cash), or is it for a supply of power units for the season including pre and in-season testing (in which case Ferrari and Renault may well be significantly out of pocket come the end of the year).

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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.
  • That’s a great question; I’d thought it’s 5 race PU’s per driver per regulations, but teams purchase an unstated number for aforementioned pre and in-season testing. If indeed the manufacturers provide the test engines “free of charge,” one would assume the cost bundled w/ the race unit pricing.

    I’ve been surprised how fragile CE’s have been, particularly early-season. It’s a box of chips, no moving parts, right? Vibration/heat/liquid… I guess sitting my computer next to an 800F manifold or oscillating on a foot massager would kill it, but still unforeseen.

    • MIE

      The Motor Generators are three phase AC machines and the Energy Store is DC, so the Control Electronics contains some fairly hefty rectifier (for AC to DC conversion) and inverters (for DC to AC). Given the power that the units must handle if these fail it would be terminal for the CE, and if it is co-located with the ES I can see how that could fail as well.

      • I’d thought the MGU’s contained a shaft-mounted DC generator aligned with the AC motor with within the housing, and assumed a transistor regulated conversion within (due to fluctuating-state AC levels). Thanks for clarifying.

        Do you have a diagram/link to F1 MGU design? I’ve seen the energy flow/PU generalized diagrams, but nothing in depth. I’m illiterate electrically, and would enjoy seeing it.

  • The4kbeast

    Pastor IS hard on equipment!!

  • Rick T

    It wouldn’t surprise me if we start seeing reserve drivers take the reigns in the cars this season, as the rule stated that a new/replaced driver will not be counted against previous use.
    Meaning kubi and maldonado and vettle may be subbed to avoid penalties.

    • MIE

      I’m not sure that’s correct. The sport in regulations quoted in the article state that if a driver is replaced, the replacement shall be considered to be the original driver as far as power unit usage is concerned.

  • NeilM

    Very interesting analysis! It certainly seems that some teams are heading for a world of hurt as the season unfolds. Not that Vettel has much to lose at this point, at least by his standards, but since he’s already on CE #4 he seems headed for a certain penalty.

    I’m more than a little surprised at the severity of these requirements given that it’s season one of an entirely new engine formula. One might have expected a year at least to get the bugs worked out before imposing such strict penalties.

    I wonder whether the chief beneficiary of all this might turn out to be Honda. They get to figure out what’s working for everyone else, and what isn’t, before jumping in in 2015. Separating the hot and cold sections of the turbocharger, check! Compact log-style exhaust manifold, check! Extra attention to CE cooling, check!

  • I think Vettel even used CE #5 in Canada. A grid penalty isn’t far off.

    As for the contractual situation, I’d think that a team gets a years supply of engines, not any fixed number.