Ferrari on Friday put in two brand new turbochargers for both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. This means that both the Ferrari drivers are now closer to getting grid penalties as they’re already on their 3rd turbo, having done only 3 races.
The limit to the number of power units and their elements are now reduced to 4 from the 5 from last season. The other major change this year though is that drivers are not allowed to stockpile grid penalties. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso used this to good extent last year to minimise the effect of the penalties.
The drivers would take up multiple power units in one race giving them a 30 place grid penalty or more if they also had an extra gearbox. The drivers won’t be able to do the same this year with new restrictions.
Under the new regulations drivers will get a 15 place grid penalty the first time they use a 5th element of any of the six elements in the power unit. When they need to use a new element after the 5th one, the penalty reduces to a 10 place grid penalty.
With 17 races remaining, it is a tough task to make these units last. Ferrari customer team Haas’ Romain Grosjean also went onto his 3rd turbo. But Ferrari do insist that the two turbos they previously used haven’t been completely written-off and will be used again at some point in the season.
Alonso is in a similar position having used 3 turbos. His teammate Stoffel Vandoorne on the other hand, has already got a 15 place grid penalty for Sunday. McLaren had to swap the entire power unit on Friday when he had issues with his MGU-K and they didn’t have time to replace individual components.