Technical: Red Bull drivers set to race with new gearbox in Jeddah

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Although the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is only the second round of the 2024 F1 season, Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are set to race today with a fresh gearbox unit.

For the 11th year running, the 2024 F1 cars are powered by V6 hybrid turbo power units with 1.6-litre engines. This season represents the penultimate year the current engine configuration appears before being replaced by a new power unit formula in 2026.

Current F1 power units feature seven elements: the internal combustion engine (ICE), motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H), motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K), turbocharger, energy store (ES), control electronics (CE) and exhaust.

Over the course of the 2024 season, a driver may use no more than four ICEs, MGU-Hs, MGU-Ks and turbochargers, two energy stores and control electronics, and eight of each of the four elements that make up a set of exhaust systems (comprising primaries left-hand side, primaries right-hand side, secondary LHS and secondary RHS).

The Jeddah F1 race sees Williams driver Alex Albon race with a new energy store and a new control electronics, which means that he has no more new units for the remainder of the season.

Similarly, Kick Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas has received a fresh control electronics, which means that he has to get through the entire season with this and the previous one if he intends to avoid a sporting penalty.

Gearbox units

Drivers are also limited in terms of how many restricted-number components (RNCs) they can use during a season. RNCs are components that make up the gearbox, split between the gearbox case and cassette, and the gearbox driveline, gear change components and auxiliary components.

As with their power units, drivers have a ‘pool’ of four gearboxes that can be swapped around during the season. Only when a driver exceeds their allocation of either of the above gearbox components do they receive a grid penalty.

Although the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is only the second round of the 2024 F1 season, Red Bull have already elected to equip Max Verstappen’s and Sergio Perez’s car with a fresh gearbox unit.

Carlos Sainz’s SF24 has also been equipped with a new gearbox case and gearbox driveline, although the Spaniard’s car will be raced by F2 drivers and Ferrari Academy member Oliver Bearman.

Following his heavy crash in final practice, Kick Sauber also changed the gearbox case and driveline in Zhou Guanyu’s car.