WMSC close F1 power unit loophole
The World Motorsport Council has introduced a new ruling to close the power unit loophole exploited by Mercedes GP at the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix.
Thanks to relibility woes earlier in the season, Lewis Hamilton had reached the permissible limit for his Turbo Charger and MGU-H allocation by the Belgian Grand Prix.
Each car is restricted to a maximum of five elements per PU element (i.e five turbochargers) in 2016.
In order to reduce the impact of impending grid penalties, Mercedes effectively banked up Hamilton’s power unit components for the remainder of the season, exceeding the limit on all but the energy store and control electronics.
By replacing the engine, Turbo Charger, MGU-H and MGU-K three times it gave Hamilton enough power elements to see out the season without any more grid penalties by starting at the back of the grid in Spa.
The FIA combatted this loophole by detailing a driver can only use the ‘last element fitted at subsequent events’ if they use ‘more than one of a power unit element that is subject to penalty’.
This loophole could have been further exploited in 2017, should a PU manufacturer have opted for an incredibly aggressive development plan. A team could have brought a new PU to every race until satisfied with the specification and then make enough power unit changes in one weekend to ensure it has enough to see out the season grid-penalty free.