Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

Verstappen issued five-place grid penalty for gearbox replacement

2018 United States Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen has been issued a five-place grid penalty for replacement of his car’s gearbox, following suffering broken rear suspension in the first qualifying session yesterday.

Verstappen exited qualifying early after running over sausage kerbs at turn 15 and was only able to roll the car back to the pits, with no further running.

He had technically completed a lap good enough to get to Q2 but could not run in the session, starting fifteenth by the timing board but thirteenth once the two Toro Rossos’ power unit penalties had been applied.

Verstappen was listed as thirteenth on the provisional grid but race direction was notified by Red Bull after qualifying that the gearbox on his car would be changed.

The five place-penalty puts him back to eighteenth, still ahead of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ cars have both had water pump changes but without incurring a penalty. Racefans has learned that Bottas had a leak in qualifying and Hamilton’s data indicated an issue with his so the team have reverted both cars to an older, safer spec of pump without adding new elements.

At the time of Verstappen’s qualifying failure, Hamilton was also asked to return to the pits by his mechanics suspecting the risk of similar failure.

Red Bull teammate Ricciardo has confirmed he was warned about exceeding track limits over the kerbs by his engineer, saying. “They warned me about them but to be honest this morning already I saw a few cars use them, I think Max was one of them and I actually had a look at the data before qualifying this morning to see how much it puts through the car, the impact and already my engineer advised me not to do that so I was going to stay off.

“I hit the one last year, last lap in qualifying getting out of the last corner but I remember hitting that and it knocked the steering for the tow out so even when I used them last year it wasn’t worth it.”

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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5 comments on “Verstappen issued five-place grid penalty for gearbox replacement”

  1. Even with five more drivers to overtake, he’s still going to reach P6 within a few laps.

  2. Midfield seems to be closer so it might cause a bit of extra difficult if cars are fighting all over the place BUT the track should still allow him to overtake quite quickly so at the worst it will take him a couple of laps more…

  3. “Red Bull teammate Ricciardo has confirmed he was warned about exceeding track limits over the kerbs by his engineer, saying. “They warned me about them but to be honest this morning already I saw a few cars use them, I think Max was one of them and I actually had a look at the data before qualifying this morning to see how much it puts through the car, the impact and already my engineer advised me not to do that so I was going to stay off.”

    The above coud be said about our polesitter as well, in Hamilton’s actuall pole lap he was 100% fully on the kerbs to get that best lap out. Driving in F1 comes at a risk, if you don’t push for the maximum you come out as second best.

    1. Matn, I would say that your statement is oversimplified and should in fact be “driving in F1 is about calculated risks” – it is about judging what the risk-reward ratio is and deciding when to push and deciding when the risks from doing so outweigh the benefits.

      After all, people did not excuse Vettel for his collision with Verstappen in the Japanese GP by saying that “if you don’t push for the maximum you come out as second best” – they criticised him because they felt that he was trying to make a move that was ultimately taking too many risks for what he was trying to achieve.

      There is a story – possibly apocryphal – about Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter from the 1979 Monaco GP. The story goes that Schecker was going round on track behind Gilles during the practise sessions and saw that, whilst most drivers would avoid certain bumps on the circuit, and particularly the one approaching Mirabeau, Gilles kept his foot flat and kept aggressively riding the bumps there.

      Seeing that, Schecker predicted before the race that Gilles was not going to make the finish because, by riding the bumps so aggressively in his quest to gain speed, he was going to break the transmission – sure enough, 54 laps into the race, Gilles was eventually forced to retire because he had broken the transmission system on his car.

      Whether it is entirely true or not, it does highlight the key point – that there eventually comes a point where the risks from a particular action start becoming too high and the reward doesn’t outweigh it. It might be quicker to run over that particular kerb, but at the same time there is the question of whether it is worth the risk of breaking your suspension – at some point, that potential risk is not going to be worth the reward you get from it.

      1. But in hindsight, maybe it does…

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