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Formula 1

Verstappen, Leclerc among six with major Spa grid penalties

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

Formula 1 title rivals Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will both serve engine-related penalties at the Belgian Grand Prix, with both set to start towards the back of the grid.

An engine failure when leading in Baku meant Leclerc went above the permitted allocation for the season as early as the ninth race of the campaign in Montreal, in which he made his way up the order to finish an eventual fifth.

With another 13 races to run after Canada, and given he’d also had a failure in Spain – also while leading – that wrote off a turbocharger and MGU-H, he was never likely to see out the season without more allocation penalties.

Ferrari has opted to take the plunge at Spa, a track many a team has chosen in the past to serve grid drops at due to the relative ease of overtaking.

Leclerc presently only has a 15-place penalty for taking a new MGU-K (five places) and energy store (10 places). But, as was the case in Canada, it seems likely more power unit changes will follow later in the weekend to maximise the number of new components being added to the pool.

Red Bull has also gone above the season’s component allocation – albeit, in the case of Verstappen, for the first time in 2022.

Verstappen, like Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon, has taken enough new components to exceed the 15-place penalty allocation and earn an automatic back-of-grid penalty.

Leclerc also has a 10-place drop for gearbox changes, but as this is separate to the power unit penalties he has incurred it does not result in a back-of-grid penalty.

Valtteri Bottas – who also has a 15-place penalty for new engine components – and Mick Schumacher also have 10-place drops for gearbox changes.

Leclerc is already 80 points adrift of Verstappen in the championship race, but with both serving penalties mean he’ll at least have a realistic chance of taking points off the Red Bull driver, rather than having to settle for an automatic damage-limitation race.

The pair’s respective team-mates Carlos Sainz – who served his own engine-related grid drop back at the French Grand Prix – and Sergio Perez will therefore get a boost to their hopes of battling for victory at Spa, while it could also represent an improved chance of a first win of 2022 for the third-placed Mercedes team.

Full Belgian GP grid penalties

Verstappen: ICE, turbo, MGU-H, MGU-K (back of the grid) + gearbox changes (5 places)
Leclerc: MGU-K, energy store (15 places) + gearbox changes (10 places)
Norris: ICE, turbo, MGU-H (back of the grid)
Ocon: ICE, turbo, MGU-H, MGU-K, energy store, control electronics (back of the grid)
Bottas: ICE, turbo, MGU-H (15 places) + gearbox changes (10 places)
Schumacher: control electronics (10 places) + gearbox changes (10 places)

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