Over a million working hours have gone into designing, developing and constructing our 2018 Formula One car. While the result of some of that engineering work can easily be spotted by the untrained eye - for example the complex aerodynamic bodywork - other equally important areas are hidden from sight.
One of the all-important elements that lies underneath the bodywork is the Power Unit (PU). In this modern, 1.6-litre V6 Turbo era, it's much more than just an engine. The Power Unit is made up of six different elements - the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), Turbo, MGU-K, MGU-H, Control Electronics and Energy Store.
These elements are combined together to deliver different Power Unit modes, which drivers and teams can utilise throughout a race weekend. Over the course of the 2018 season-opening Australian Grand Prix weekend, these proved to be a particularly hot topic and sparked plenty of debate. So, what are Power Unit modes and why are they necessary?
PU modes are a combination of settings that adjust the performance of the ICE as well as the flow of electrical energy. The ICE performance is changed, for example, by varying the amount of fuel that is injected into the combustion chamber or by changing the timing of the ignition. For the Hybrid side of the Power Unit, the modes will alter the interaction and scheduling of the electrical energy for both deployment of the 120kW (maximum) MGU-K and recovery of both the MGU-K and MGU-H.