Vettel’s power unit saved after Bahrain struggles

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After a thorough inspection on Sebastian Vettel’s control electronics unit, Ferrari confirmed that the part which caused problems in the final free practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, is fully ’healthy’ and ready for further useage.

As a reminder: The power unit is deemed to consist of six separate elements: the internal combustion 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 is permitted to use only three ICE, MGU-H and TC, and only two ES, CE and MGU-K during a championship season and any combination of them may be fitted to a car at any one time.

This rule was tweaked for this year, tightening the pool of useable power unit components even further. Last year, drivers were allowed to use four elements of all power unit components.

Sebastian Vettel encountered an issue in the third and final practice session of the Bahrain GP weekend. The control electonics unit developed malfunctions which prompted Ferrari to change that for a fresh one due to the tight schedule between the practice session and the qualifying. Ferrari completed a torough investigation to find out whether the issue was down to the hardware or to a software glitch and the data suggested that the unit is fully useable for the remainder of the season. It is a huge relief for the German driver, because losing one fresh unit early on in the season would have resulted in penalties.

Mercedes has changed the control electonics and the energy store in Valtteri Bottas’ car which means he is using the second and final element of those components.

After the reliability woes in Bahrain which ended the race for Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull decided to change the same duo of components in the Australian’s car.

Haas Ferrari driver Kevin Magnussen is also using his second control electronics and energy store in his highly competitve 2018 Haas machine.

Toro Rosso’s Brandon Hartely is using his second turbocharger and MGU-H while his team mate Pirre Gasly who delivered the best result for Honda in the latest endeavour of the Japanese manufacturer in Formula One is on his second turbocharger, internal combustion engine and MGU-H.

With the regulations being so strict and with 21 championship rounds this season, teams, especially those powered by Ferrari, Honda and Renault power units face an uphill battle against the rules. With the early reliability issues, penalties are looming and can be expected as soon as at the mid-point of the season.