Some power unit parts to last half a season in 2018

2018 F1 season

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Teams will have to make some parts of their power unit last for half a season from the 2018 championship.

Drivers will be allowed only two MGU-Ks, control electrics and energy stores for the 2018 season and will receive penalties if they use more. If the calendar remains the same length it will require some power unit elements to last for eleven races instead of the current five.

Each driver will be allowed a maximum of three engines, MGU-Hs and turbochargers before receiving penalties, which if the calendar remains 21 races long will require each component to last for seven events.

If a new power unit manufacturer enters the sport each of its drivers will be permitted to use an extra one of each elements, a dispensation which was introduced for Honda last year.

The tighter restriction on power units is intended to help bring down the cost of competition. Prices will be limited in 2017 and in 2018 the price reduced per power unit for a new customer team will be set at €12 million (£9.49m).

2018 power unit rules changes

23.4 a) Unless he drives for more than one team (see 23.4(c) below), and subject to the additions described in b) and c) below, each driver may use no more than 3 engines (ICE), 3 motor generator units-heat (MGU-H), 3 turbochargers (TC), 2 energy stores (ES), 2 control electronics (CE) and 2 motor generator units-kinetic (MGU-K) during a Championship season.

With the consent of (and at the sole discretion of) the FIA, the numbers above will be increased by one for any driver using a power unit provided by a new power unit manufacturer (as defined in Appendix X) taking part in their first Championship season.

b) Should a driver use more than the numbers set in a) above of any one of the elements during a Championship season, 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:

The first time an additional elements is used – Ten grid place penalty
The next time an additional elements is used – Five grid place penalty

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.

c) 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.

d) 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.

e) 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.

2018 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Some power unit parts to last half a season in 2018”

  1. Why F1 gets even more complicated???

  2. While many celebrate the abolition of tokens from next year (on the basis that it should allow the stragglers to catch up) the fewer components you can use, the fewer opportunities the teams have to introduce improvements to those components. So, this may very well make it harder to catch up.

    1. on the other hand, it does put something of a natural limit on development, in that it costs on track penalties if you do bring new bits to the powertrain every week and improve it @tdog

    2. @tdog I fear it is also a bigger gap between manufacturer and customer. As a customer you want to buy a reliable engine, to do so manufacturer can restrict even more the usage envelope of their engine so that customer complain as little as possible. Their engines will last but won’t perform as well.

      Another concern is in the case of a crash. Take the case of Alonso this year at Melbourne, he should do a whole season on 2 engines (ie. run each engine 50% than any other competitor) ? Shouldn’t it be possible to have ‘force majeure’ to replace some engine due to particular events ? Or you are just penalised twice if someone crash into you and destroy your engine as you would need to serve a mammoth 60 places grid penalty.

      Great for cost, not so for competition and for development it will be to which manufacturer team assume the most on their bill… Probably that they will weight the time advantage per cost for aero and engine and decide accordingly.

      1. @jeanrien +1 regarding force majeure, I definitely think there should be a rule on that

      2. Re the case of a crash
        @jeanrien You raise a good point here. One of the restrictions is on the number of “Energy Stores” that are allowed during the season. I think this is another name for a battery. A battery unit stores energy, and if there is a short circuit this could easily become a fire or explosive hazard, so integrity of electrical insulation and keeping current discharge within design expectations is essential. While it is easy to protect a battery from an external short circuit some distance from it via a fuse, an internal short circuit is more difficult to protect against. Good internal insulation is essential to keeping “different voltage” parts separated for safety. After a “high G” crash there could easily be doubt about this integrity, especially if there is physical evidence of damage.
        This would be a bit like restrictions on the number fuel tanks allowed in a season. If a driver had a crash, and the fuel tank was dented, and say there was evidence of a “very minor, almost insignificant” type fuel leak, would you expect them to replace it? Of course! But say they were only allowed two fuel tanks during the season, and say the penalty is ten grid places for a third unit at the start of the next race, and say they have already replaced the unit once before, should they replace it? Common sense says “Yes, change it, safety is the issue”.
        This is pretty much the situation with an “Energy store”, if it has been damaged then it should be replaced, yet the limit and penalty on these could result in some wanting to not replace a damaged unit when they should.

    3. knoxploration
      4th May 2016, 16:02

      Yep, exactly. This is another idiotic idea which ensures we won’t see any competition in F1 unless the engines are first brought to parity artificially.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        4th May 2016, 19:08

        Why do people only want the PU to be equalised and not the other 2 important parts of a team’s entry (chassis and driver)?

        1. To the Max !
          4th May 2016, 20:24

          Because chassis and drivers are relative more affordable and by so are accessible by enough teams to give fairer competition in F1.

          1. Sure, aero is so cheap…

          2. More affordable? Red Bull have the highest chassis & aero spend of anyone chasing 0.01 second improvements.

          3. ColdFly F1 (@)
            5th May 2016, 12:23

            1 Alonso or Hamilton will cost you 4 sets of PU’s for a season!

  3. WEC is no more Endurance Championship F1 got that

  4. To put this into perspective, if we were now four races in to the 2018 season then Lewis Hamilton would have to run the same engine for the remainder of the season in order to avoid any grid penalties. As it stands he’s going to be fortunate to escape any this year.

    Introducing penalties to deter teams buying themselves around reliability is fine but that’s not the outcome we’ve experienced so far. Instead we’ve had the same dominance at the front combined with comedic grid penalties at the back. I’m not suggesting a better alternative, but the governors of this sport need to remember that every time they introduce a rule or limitation that changes race day then the value of the sport can easily be lessened.

    F1 is on a track with competitive cars for around 63 hours a year. That’s the product. If they want to find ways that control the sport and behaviour of the teams, they should be focussing on the other 8,700 or so hours that aren’t broadcast.

    1. COTD here, @gregkingston.

      To add..
      Reducing costs is great, but do that by putting into regulation that:
      a. There is a cost cap for 4-5 PUs per year, and
      b. PU manufacturers have to offer upgraded engines to customer teams at the same time the factory team uses them.

      The combination will force PU manufacturers to pool upgrades rather than constantly change things in actual race engines (keeps changes/costs lower). If you have to have 4-8 PUs ready, you are going to think twice before changing something every race.

      And like many others have said, this is turning into WEC. I do prefer this to blowing through 6+ engines every weekend, as that has zero relevance to the real world. But cutting season PUs to 3 (and eventually to 1?) doesn’t make any sense either.

  5. I don’t know why Bernie keeps pushing for reverse grids as at this rate we’re going to see grid drops at nearly every round anyway, maybe that’s the idea?

  6. For any one who dont know
    2016 Season allowed components with out hitting penalty
    Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) – 5
    Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K) – 5
    Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H) – 5
    Turbo Charger (TC) – 5
    Control Electronics (CE) – 5
    Energy Store (ES) – 5

    2018 Season allowed components with out hitting penalty
    Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) – 3
    Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K) – 2
    Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H) – 3
    Turbo Charger (TC) – 3
    Control Electronics (CE) – 2
    Energy Store (ES) – 2

    Welcome to 2018 Formula 1 Endurance Championship

  7. 5 engines is tough this will be stupid but it will mix the grids up towards the end of the season. How much research and development will be spent to run 3 engines? Maybe more than would be spent on performance as they will also need to add performance into this as well. Might as well use modified road car engines, all the smaller teams can do like little sports car companies and run crated Mustang or Chevy V8’s, McLaren can run the P1 engine, Ferrari the La Ferrari engine. They would sound good and be cheap and everyone can have their own engine with certain modifications allowed.

    1. The original spec for this engine is that it would cross-polinate into the WEC and other series. The P1 and La Ferrari are heavily inspired by the F1 concept too.

      I guess what i’m saying is don’t count those chickens…

  8. petebaldwin (@)
    4th May 2016, 16:15

    Am I right in saying that the engines used in the World Endurance Championship will now not be expected to last anywhere near as long as those in F1?

    1. They could sell these engines to LMP1 teams?

      1. FlyingLobster27
        4th May 2016, 16:54

        @markp, I think technically they already can, or at least F1 engines are legal, because the P1 engine rules are quite liberal in terms of form, and balanced by fuel consumption in each hybrid subclass. However, P1 Privateer is supposed to be cheap, something F1 engines are not.
        @petebaldwin, there’s no reason the P1 class wouldn’t follow a similar trend parallel to F1. I believe the current max number of engines in P1 is 4 per season, bearing in mind that one race alone is longer than 14 Grands Prix, for which F1 teams will still be allowed to use two engines on average in 2018.

        1. FlyingLobster27, it isn’t just a cost issue that has stopped privateers from using F1 spec powertrains in the WEC, because the ACO currently bans privateers from using hybrid energy recovery systems. Entrants in the LMP1-L category are only permitted to use a conventional engine, whilst any team which uses a hybrid power unit has to compete in the manufacturer class (and, conversely, any manufacturer entrant has to use a hybrid power unit – hence why Nissan had to fit a hybrid unit to their LMP1 car despite the fact that it didn’t actually work and just acted as dead weight).

          The ACO has stated that they are deliberately preventing the privateers from competing directly against the manufacturers because the manufacturers want to use the WEC to promote hybrid systems. Permitting a privateer entrant with a conventional engine to beat a manufacturer with a hybrid power unit would send the entirely wrong message out, so the regulations are deliberately biased in favour of hybrid systems – hence why the use of hybrid power units has become the defining attribute of whether a team is a privateer or a manufacturer.

          If a team wanted to use one of the current generation of F1 engines in the WEC, theoretically it would be eligible for use. However, certain components in use in the energy recovery systems in F1 are banned under the ACO’s current regulations, so you would need to modify the design of the hybrid systems in order to compete in the WEC.

          1. Wow. Imagine the uproar if those engine rules applied in F1 with only manufacturers running 900hp hybrids and the rest cheaper non hybrids that cannot compete. F1 would get panned in social media but WEC can do no wrong.

            What if Red Bull quit F1 joined LMP1 with a Newer aero monster and the Mercedes F1 engine?

    2. A really rough search on the internet based on 5 LMP1 engines for 5 x 6 hours races and 24hours Lemans gives roughly 1200 to 1300 miles on average per engine, F1 3 engines across 21 races just over 1300 miles per engine so the same. This is based on race distances so excludes free practice and qualifying. Maybe F1 engines at Lemans and vice versa? Red Bull to run a diesel Audi engine?

  9. :D Here’s an idea… every time new component is used 10 place grid penalty first time… 5 place second.

    This way after race 5-6 we will start to see random grids…

  10. Call me stupid, but in this modern (2009+) F1 I don’t see a 10 place grid penalty as anything so bad that you wouldn’t use a new engine in your car because of it. The 10place grid is just a “meh”, to me. Altough I would never like to witness such a scenario, a 5 place drop on the final result is something that would push me to build the most reliable engine. Hope this never gets real, anyway.

  11. “The first time an additional elements is used – Ten grid place penalty
    The next time an additional elements is used – Five grid place penalty”

    So if a driver needs to use an element three times it’s a terrible thing, but four is proportionally not as bad. There are some things I will never understand.

    1. In addition to that, a 10-place grid drop would mean that it is basically just as disadvantageable for a team to replace five elements, as it is for them to replace two.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        4th May 2016, 19:13

        @strontium, just do a ‘McLaren’ in Melbourne (introduce 10 new PU’s); cop the 45 or so grid-place penalty, and enjoy those 10 units throughout the season.

        1. @coldfly indeed, to be honest I’m very surprised they haven’t closed that loophole.

          If a team is half way through the season and decides they need 2 extra PUs for each car to get them through, they can simply run all the parts in practice, and take what I have calculated to be a 75-place grid drop for each car.

  12. Apex Assassin
    4th May 2016, 21:56


    so sick of this movement to make F1 into some sort of half-ssed endurance series.



    1. Agreed.
      I think if I was an PU manufacturer I would be saying that we need to research longer lasting components, that they would probably be heavier and that the cost of PUs would increase by 50%.

  13. Guess this is the pay off that Mercedes wanted for performance equalisation.

    As mentioned by several of the teams earlier, PU Performance vs Reliability is a balancing act. Now, since FIA has decided to equalise performance, the only think that Mercedes could do is tip the balance of their power unit with lesser performance and increased reliability. Lesser performance will help the struggler PU makers to catch up performance wise, but they probably won’t have the bulletproof reliability of the Mercedes engines. So let’s change the rules to give a reliable engine an advantage, shall we? Reduce the engine components so that Mercedes can get through a season without penalties, while the other teams are frequently receiving grid drops.

    The engine formula still dominates, but in a different form. Genius!

    1. …but they probably won’t have the bulletproof reliability of the Mercedes engines

      Have you seen Car #44 this year?

      1. @optimaximal

        Do you understand performance vs reliability balancing?

        Have you seen the relative performance and reliability of a Ferrari, honda and Renault pu?

  14. MG421982 (@)
    5th May 2016, 8:59

    Hmmm, give them few years more and F1 cars will outlast Le Mans cars and… street cars too!!! I think this is getting more and more ridiculous. Where would be the tech competition, the innovative ideas etc etc? Some engineer may have a winning idea, but cannot use because it “hey, we’re stuck to these designs and parts for 5 years!”.

  15. Ok so in 2018 nobody will be able to race. GG…

  16. I’m all for making it cheaper for the smaller teams to compete, but the pinnacle of motorsport relying on two of each PU element for an entire season before a driver receives a grid penalty for using a 3rd/4th/5th PU component?

    At least make it constructors point deductions rather than impact the drivers championship.

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