Tourdog’s Technical Travails: Post Austria ICE and Gearbox Summary

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Tourdog

Austria has passed, and I am sure there is no one happier about it than McLaren. Renault probably isn’t far behind them in the “let’s forget that ever happened” department. After much consideration, I have decided to break this down by driver. There are just too many variables to try and lump manufacturers together.

A few notes on the data:

  • “*” in the data table means the ICE or Gearbox is known to have failed and is unusable, or has reached the end of it’s estimated lifespan, which we are going to assume is 5000 Km.
  • The first time an ICE or a gearbox is installed, I assume it is installed prior to FP1, and used for the entire weekend as a “break-in” period. After the first race an item is used, I assume it will only be used again for FP3-Quali-Race purposes, unless the driver does not have a spare unit to use.
  • I have added graphs to the bottom of the data table to help visualize things. If the bar is filled with a cross hatch that is the same indicator as an “*”, the item is a known failure.
  • I am posting the .xlsx file in addition to the usual PDF’s, so enjoy.


Lewis Hamilton

There isn’t much to say other than Lewis is sitting prettiest. His first PU and first Gearbox, in total, has lasted about 4600 Km. The only part that was replaced early was his Control Electronics, but that does not seem to have effected him. Lewis most likely used PU #1 and Gearbox #1 for FP1&2 in Austria, which I have notated in the data. PU#2 and Gearbox #2 only have about 1200 Km on them after being used in Canada and Austria.

My estimations are that Lewis should be able to use PU & GB #1 for at least the next 3 Friday’s. This should put off installation of PU #3 until Italy. Why Italy? Because that is where Ferrari will most likely bring their next major upgrade. Look for Mercedes to bring their first tokens to play at that time.

Nico Rosberg

Nico is in pretty much the same position as Lewis, except that he had put about 300 Km more distance on his first PU and GB. This means he may not get quite as much use out of it for practice sessions, though there really is no telling how long they will last, so there may not be any negatives. His replacement schedule is the same as Lewis, and will probably get his next PU in Italy and Gearbox in Singapore as well. Both should get their Final PU for the last four races, U.S.–> Abu Dhabi.

Felipe Massa & Valtteri Bottas

Both are on pretty much the same track, and both matching that of Lewis. Both drivers only have about 4500 Km on their first Power Unit and should be using it for Free Practice Sessions at the next several weekends. As described before, Valtteri’s failure to run the first race set him back by one race on his gearbox allocation, so barring a DNF, he will finish the last race on his 3rd gearbox, whereas Massa will be running the first race on his fourth. Williams reliability should allow them to run an old PU and Gearbox for practice until the tokens come into play.

Nico Hulkenberg & Sergio Perez

Force India is in a unique position compared to the other Mercedes powered cars. Nico changed out his first PU after 3 races, and ran PU#2 for races 4-7. Sergio ran on his first PU through race 7, and only changed to PU #2 before Austria. Nico just installed his 3rd PU in Austria as well. This means Nico is on the exact same replacement schedule as the other Mercedes powered drivers, he has just used 1 more than everyone else. Nico will definitely take a grid penalty hit for using a 5th ICE at some point. There may in fact be more than just a 10 place penalty for a new ICE, as Nico has used 1 more of everything but the Energy Store.

Nico’s #1 PU is probably useless, we can surmise that due to its untimely failure. His 2nd PU however, only has 2700 Km on it and should be good for all Friday sessions in the foreseeable future.

Sergio’s #1 PU has about 5000 Km on it, meaning it is probably beyond its useful life. So of the 8 Mercedes powered cars, Sergio is the only one that does not have a spare PU to use for Free Practice. This may limit the amount or running that he will be able to do at the Friday sessions.

Both drivers are on the same gearbox schedule as the Mercedes drivers, and should receive their final gearbox in Abu Dhabi. There appear to be no issues whatsoever with the Mercedes Gearbox.

Romain Grosjean & Pastor Maldonado

Power Unit wise, both Lotus drivers are on the same replacement schedule as Mercedes and Williams. Due to Pastors multitude of DNF’s, he had the least amount of distance on his first PU, just 3200 Km, and it should therefore be good for as many practice sessions as Lotus need.

Lotus is going through gearboxes like tic-tacs. Because Lotus has been taking advantage of the “free” gearbox change after a DNF, Pastor is already on his 6th gearbox. I now project he will use at least 8 gearboxes this season. Romain is on track to only use 5 gearboxes, but that still means they will use twice as many gearboxes this year as Williams. Romain has 3 races completed on his 3rd gearbox right now. Since his 1st gearbox only went about 200 Km at the first race before it was changed, it should be good to use for practice for nearly the rest of the season. We know Romains 2nd gearbox is finished because he took a penalty to change it in Monaco.


Sebastian Vettel & Kimi Raikkonen

Both Ferrari’s went 3 races before changing out ICE #1. ICE #2 made it another 3 races.

Ferrari installed an all-new ICE #3 in Canada, and used some of their tokens at the same time. Since the rules stipulate that a manufacturer cannot run two different specifications of Power Unit, Ferrari should not be able to use PU #1 or #2 at all anymore, this includes Free Practice. Ferrari need ICE #3 in both cars to complete 5 race weekends. #3 was installed before Canada and used in Austria. Vettel currently has 1200 Km on his ICE and Kimi has 1000 Km. Both Ferrari’s will take a penalty for their 5th ICE at some point, most likely before the GP of Mexico.

Vettel is on the same gearbox schedule as the Mercedes and the Williams cars. However, in Austria he had much publicized gearbox problems during FP1 & 2, which limited his running. This was most likely not Vettel’s current race gearbox, but the last throes of his first gearbox. So while this “failure” should have no impact on Vettel’s races, it may force Ferrari to use Vettel’s #2 gearbox for Free Practice sessions.

Kimi’s crash with Alonso in Austria will give him a free gearbox change before Silverstone. Ironically, this couldn’t have come at a worse time for poor Kimi. Due to the 6 race gearbox schedule, now Kimi will change to his 5th gearbox before Russia, leaving him to run Abu Dhabi as the 5th race on Gearbox 5, instead of the 6th race on gearbox 4. Not really much of an improvement. The good news for Kimi is that since Gearbox #1 was replaced after only 662 Km, both it and Gearbox #3 (provided it wasn’t damaged in the Alonso accident) will be good for Free Practice use from here on out. I am writing Kimi’s #3 Gearbox off however. The impact forces were large enough and Ferrari is rich enough that there is no need for them to risk using #3 again, especially since #1 has minimal distance on it.

Marcus Ericson & Felipe Nasr

Both drivers went 4 race weekends on PU #1, which was one more race weekend than Ferrari made it on their first. Ericson and Nasr changed to ICE #2 before Spain, and they both have about 2700 Km amassed. As previously discussed, I do not know how Ferrari is getting away with running a different spec of engine in the Sauber, but they are. This means Ferrari does not have to wait for Sauber to install a new spec PU. This puts Sauber on their own schedule, and I predict they will use their 2nd ICE for at least one more race at Silverstone. The early change of ICE #1 probably means that it is not usable for practice, so the data reflects that Sauber is using their 2nd ICE for all sessions.


Daniel Ricciardo & Daniil Kvyat

The Danni’s are in real trouble. Red Bull have used 5 ICE’s per driver over 8 races. They are averaging just 1.6 races per ICE. Think about that. It means at this rate, each driver will use 12 ICE’s this season. TWELVE PER DRIVER!

Of course this won’t happen, at some point Renault will get their shit together and a single ICE will last longer than 3.5 race weekends. That incidentally is the record for number of races a Renault ICE has lasted. Regardless, there is no way that either of the Dans will use less than 7 ICEs this year. Many more penalties are coming. Even worse, it appears that ICEs #1-4 for both drivers are all blown and not usable, so Red Bull don’t have them to use for Free Practice.

At this point any Red Bull gearbox problems are near irrelevant.

Max Verstappen & Carlos Sainz Jr.

Carlos Sainz Jr holds a record for Renault. He has managed to get nearly 2600 Km out of a single ICE. This beats the next closest ICE by nearly 700 Km, and makes him the only Renault driver to break 2000 Km on an ICE. OUCH!

Still, Carlos is in the best position of the 4 Renault powered cars. He is the only one still on his third ICE, which has made it through 4 races, but just 3.5 race weekends because #3 was installed after Friday practice in Spain. There is really no telling what is going to happen with the Renault PU, but even Carlos will use a minimum of 5 ICE’s this year, and that is an overly optimistic outlook.

Verstappen is on his 5th ICE and his 4th Gearbox. Worse, ICE’s 1-4 are all DOA and therefore unusable. Max will definitely use 7 ICE’s this year, but my money is that he will lead the Renault drivers with 8 ICE’s by season’s end, doubling his allocation.

Max will use a minimum of 6 Gearboxes this year, Carlos may get away with 4.


Fernando Alonso

Things did not get better for McLaren in Austria, in fact, they got worse.

Fernando started the weekend with his 5th ICE, his 4th ICE only made it 305 Km in Canada, after which McLaren was forced to replace it with #5 in Austria. PU #5 only went 376 Km before Fernando’s crash with Kimi on lap one. McLaren has already announced that the ICE and gearbox Fernando was using were destroyed in the accident.

This means that Fernando has NO SPARE PU, all 5 units appear to be unusable, and therefore Fernando will have to use his race PU’s for the Free Practice sessions until further notice.

Fernando will start Silverstone on ICE #6, which he will take a 10 place grid penalty for. If any of the other 5 parts of the PU were damaged, you can probably add a few more 5 place penalties on top of that. Ferando WILL use 8 ICE’s this year, plus who knows how many other parts will be replaced as well.

Jenson Button


Jenson most definitely expends more energy forcing a smile for the cameras than he does driving the car. It has got to be exhausting to stay that positive in the face of such devastation. Jenson is basically in the same situation as Alonso, though he didn’t destroy his PU in a crash last race.

However, if an inanimate object can have a soul, and Honda having named each PU brought that soul to life, then they may want to reconsider their miraculous achievement. The sister engines seem to be sympathetic to one another and every time the team changes out Alonso’s and not Button’s, Buttons engine implodes.

They say one twin can feel the others pain and twins separated by great distances will sometimes die simultaneously or sympathetically. McLaren-Honda has unleashed the demons of the underworld with their unholy reunion.

For McLaren, the rest of this season is a write off. They will be taking grid penalties at nearly every race anyway so they may as well embrace it and just bring a whole new PU to every race until they get it right.

Renault may take this same approach. Their similar situation puts the unlikely allies of Red Bull and McLaren in a powerful position. If both teams do in fact say screw the penalties and just keep bringing new equipment there are going to be multiple cars with 20+ place grid penalties at every race and the fans/media are going to start an uproar.

Bernie will be ecstatic, but CVC may not be too happy. Its going to be interesting after the break when the token upgrades from Mercedes come in to play…

ICE – Click here for the PDF

ICE post Austria (ver 6.0)

Gearbox – Click here for the PDF

Gearbox post austria (ver 6.0)

Click here for the Excel File

2 responses to “Tourdog’s Technical Travails: Post Austria ICE and Gearbox Summary

  1. Right fantastic analysis! Really useful to know which PU’s and Gearboxes can go on to be reused as the season builds mileage. At any rate, thanks a lot for putting this together, I appreciate how much time this takes to do.

  2. This should be on all Mc-Honda press releases:
    “They say one twin can feel the others pain and twins separated by great distances will sometimes die simultaneously or sympathetically. McLaren-Honda has unleashed the demons of the underworld with their unholy reunion.”

    Great analysis. At what point do Renault and Honda just come with all new everything every race? They are so far out of any contention they might as well turn these into the ultimate test sessions every session (including quali and race). Cost is out the window at this point….this PU/GB setup has raised costs dramatically. Not only are they the most expensive engine, now they are running damn near as many as the years where they ran a engine a weekend (actually 2 engine’s with the quali spec engines in those days).

    I have an idea FIA/FOM, instead of continuing to ADD to regulations from 40 years ago, how about re-writing the regulations so they are appropriate to what is occurring today?


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