#F1 Forensics: The Big One. Power Unit usage by session.




The WDC and WCC have been decided. We all pretty much knew what the outcome of those was going to be anyway, so who cares. What really matters are the numbers, and boy do I have a lot of numbers for you.

When I started this little excursion into the abyss several months ago, I somehow knew I would end up here, no matter how hard I tried to fight it. What I really wanted to know, was how the teams use their Power Units, both in practice and the race. I wanted to know just how much distance they could get out of an engine, a battery, etc. I wanted to know exactly how bad things were for Renault and Honda.

Well I have some answers.

The table attached is the sum total of hundreds of hours of work. I have read every FIA document that has been published this year. I have gathered all of the memos, and lap time dumps. I have paid close attention when teams leak PU and gearbox information through the media. I know its a lot of info, but this seemed to be the best way to display it.

Every session in every race is represented. Each time a team upgraded a part of their PU, the number jumps 1. If a team reverted to an older part, it is shown as well.

Whenever a team has an available, functioning, previously used item, it will be shown as used in FP1&2, and then reverts back to current spec for FP3, quail, and Race. This is not a hard  and fast rule however. I have made certain assumptions, and no doubt some errors, but the guesses I made were more educated than dart at the wall. We know teams try to run 2 complete packages for each car. There is a “practice package” made up of old spec PU elements and an old gearbox, and then a current spec “race package”. Sharing as few parts between these two packages makes it easier to swap between Friday and Saturday, and gives them a full backup in case something goes wrong on Saturday.

It’s not always possible to do this depending on the parts a team has available, for instance early in the season, or after a driver has a major accident.

The Sainz crash in Russia is another example of educated guessing. I wrote off his ICE, Turbo, MGUK, and MGUH because of the 46G impact with a Steel I beam. The chassis of the car impacted with enough force to ruin the bearings in all four of those devices. Carlos had older spec parts available, so I guessed that the parts installed during the accident are dead. I could be wrong, but it seems logical, and I personally wouldn’t risk those parts after a major impact.

There is one major ASTERISK* for Max Verstappen. According to the FIA, the ICE he is using is Number 8.

My data shows it as Number 7. This is because back in Italy, STR broke the seal on Max’s #7 ICE  without FIA supervision, to do a repair. According to Regulations, the FIA now counts this block as a “New” ICE, and they penalized him for it. So according to the FIA, he is on ICE #8. But I don’t care about the reg, I just care about the distance that physical engine covered, regardless of whether it is called #7 or #8.

You may also notice, that for most of the Renault and Honda powered cars, their first ICE, Turbo, MGU, etc, never gets used as a practice unit. This is because I assumed if a team replaced a major engine component before the 2nd race starts, that component is no good, and never will be. Again, I could be wrong, but if they replaced something that early, odds are it has issues.

The reason there are no numbers in FP1 for a few drivers, is because someone else drove their car in that session. There is no easy way to overlay two drivers in a single column, and making the table any larger just to show the same info that is in FP2 (for the most part), seemed even more ridiculous.

Stray observations:

No Mercedes powered car has used more than 4 PU components, so no Merc powered car has taken any PU penalties this year.

Ferrari is in a similar situation to Mercedes, having only used 4 components, with the exception of Kimi and Seb’s ICE. They are on ICE #5, but all the rest of their components are still #4 or less, and Sauber has not taken a penalty because they are still on component 4 across the board.

All Renault powered cars are on ICE #7, except Kvyat, who is on ICE #8. Renault is replacing the Turbo, MGU-H, and MGU-K nearly as often as their ICE, so their issues are not just with the engine.

Honda is in serious trouble. As of this moment, Alonso is in the double digits for most of his PU components. Button is not far behind him. I say at this moment, because by the time this is published, Mclaren may have installed 2 more Power Units in each car. Post Mexico, Mclaren has used 22 different Internal Combustion Engines, Turbochargers, and MGU-H’s, 17 MGU-K’s, 9 batteries and 12 Gearboxes. So much for cost savings.


Before I leave you to go blind, one last note….

If you look up at the top of the web page, in the header, you will see the Chancery’s Archive

Inside that page are several tables like:

ICE Distance

Turbo Distance

Gearbox Distance


Those numbers are linked to this table. So if you look at this behemoth, and notice that Lewis used his #2 Control Electronics for ELEVEN races, you can go up to that table and see exactly how far the CE units went. (The answer is 8,383 Km)

I have added a few more tables, and included the top drivers lap times from race 11 on, on that page. All the links bring you to a new full screen tab as well.


I will be lurking around, so if you have any questions, feel free to shout em out in the comments, and I will get back to you.

You are going to want to Click Here to view this in all its Eye Piercing Glory.


11 responses to “#F1 Forensics: The Big One. Power Unit usage by session.

  1. Got to say thanks for compiling that list!!! Superb job. #:) Only thing was I think you mean excursion into the abyss rather than exclusion! #:))

  2. Nice job!! And thanks for such detail, I tried to keep a check myself but lost hope in May so I know just how many hours you have put in,again thanks..oh and the Mchonda column looks like a bingo ticket and really shows the troubles in that team. Let’s hope that 2016 brings about a sudden revelation

    • Coincidentally, if McLaren’s run of form continues and sponsors continue to stay away in droves then bingo nights at the MTC may well be where the money will be coming from.

      Extra coincidentally, Button announced his choice of permanent race number with a tweet of “Two little ducks”.

      Extra, extra coincidentally Alonso’s #14 echoes the lawnmower engine Honda have burst out of the shed with this year.

      Clearly, the cosmos has a sense of humour.


      • Coffee now over a clients quote!!…I had the sudden image of Big Ron in a silver suit making the calls

        • Soz, dude 🙂

          Just did a bit of extra reading on the bingo number rhyming slang thing. Mugh more of it than I remember from when I used to go along with Nanna as a sprog.

          Thus I give you:

          “Droopy draws, #44”

          P.M.S.L. 😀

  3. I must say, I’m not easily impressed – but Tourdog, this work is impressively comprehensive in terms of the research it would’ve taken.

    There’s nothing that I can see on the net that’s like this.


  4. It also quit clearly demonstrates what a mess Renault have made of their engine compared to Mercedes and Ferrari. I will just ingnore Honda and look at that list as if it is pre-season testing of prototype engines…… If selling enginest to customers creates a loss for Mercedes, imagine the bill at Renault and Honda. They don’t need customer teams, they blow enough engines to cover 3 to 4 teams themselves.

  5. noted from your table,and what great work it is… Mercedes with the trouble they had with rossbergs ice no 3 which overheated and is now only used for Fp1/2 he has now put on 2597kms on this ice 4 race only engine a 1000 more than lewis. as ice no2 went bang at 3500 in Italy.Do you think it will last the season?will he be allowed to run sat 3 {full power] or will he be the first to go to no5 to win the last race

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