Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022

Verstappen, Leclerc and four others to take power unit change penalties at Spa

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Championship rivals Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will take grid penalties for exceeding their power unit parts allocation at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

The impending penalties for the pair removes the two strongest contenders for pole position this weekend. Leclerc and Verstappen have taken pole for 10 of the 13 races so far this season, while no other driver has scored more than one.

They are among six drivers who will have grid penalties this weekend for exceeding the limits on power unit components and gearbox parts. Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas and Mick Schumacher will also take grid drops.

The FIA confirmed Verstappen, Norris and Ocon are all required to start from the back of the grid as they have all collected more than 15 grid place penalties for individual power unit component infringements.

Leclerc, Schumacher and Bottas have collected grid drops through their combinations of power unit and gearbox penalties. Leclerc has a total grid drop of 25 places, Schumacher 20 places and Bottas 20. By avoiding a “back of the grid” penalty, Leclerc, Schumacher and Bottas will line up in front of the three other penalised drivers. Leclerc’s power unit penalties were spread across the first two practice sessions, an option which may not have been open to other drivers whose cars required complete power unit changes.

The final starting order of all six will be influenced by their performance in qualifying. Further penalties could follow if their teams fit additional new parts to their cars.

Other drivers have also taken new engines without incurring penalties. These are Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll, Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi – all of which are powered by Mercedes.

Penalties summary

Schumacher: 10-place grid drop for exceeding maximum number of power unit components and 10-place grid drop for exceeding limit on restricted-number components
Leclerc: 15-place grid drop for exceeding maximum number of power unit components and 10-place grid drop for exceeding limit on restricted-number components
Bottas: 15-place grid drop for exceeding maximum number of power unit components and five-place grid drop for exceeding limit on restricted-number components (the stewards originally announced a 10-place grid drop but later reduced it to five)
Ocon: Start at the back of the grid due to exceeding maximum number of power unit components
Norris: Start at the back of the grid due to exceeding maximum number of power unit components (issued twice for two separate infringements)
Verstappen: Start at the back of the grid due to exceeding maximum number of power unit components and five-place grid drop for exceeding limit on restricted-number components

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2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “Verstappen, Leclerc and four others to take power unit change penalties at Spa”

  1. Max, Charles, Lando, and to some extent Esteban, are frequent Top 10ers in quali, now all starting at the back.
    Big opportunity for other teams to get into Q3. Wonder who will be most likely to stake a claim to those spots!

    1. @senproman, I reckon they’ll still try reaching Q3, especially the former two, given championship stakes.

    2. As the article says “The exact starting order of all six will be influenced by their performance in qualifying. “ they are going to qualify as normal to start as high up the grid as possible.

      1. The FIA confirmed Verstappen, Norris and Ocon are all required to start from the back of the grid as they have all collected more than 15 grid place penalties.

        Leclerc, Schumacher and Bottas have collected grid drops of 25, 20 and 15 places respectively through their combinations of power unit and gearbox penalties. They will therefore line up in front of the three other penalised drivers.

        If you read how this part of the article though, it makes no sense as VER, NOR, OCO will start at the back for 15+ place penalties but LEC and MSC will start ahead, even though they too have 15+ place penalties.

        Honestly, if they persist with these grid penalties, then would prefer the drivers actually serve the penalty in full, even if it is staggered across races. It will automatically stop the profligacy of the teams at the front. Of course, customer teams should probably get less harsh penalties, if it is a technical failure of the PU.

        1. @f1g33k in 2014, and thus the beginning of this PU era, the grid penalties carried over onto the next weekend if they weren’t served in full (but only the next weekend). It was hated, and for the 2015 season it was converted into time or drive through penalties depending on how many places couldn’t be served.

          Of course that was hated too so that was abandoned down the line as well.

  2. What a joke.

    All these silly penalties just make the sport look ridiculous.

    1. Why should they be able to have no penalties for wearing their parts out quicker than others?

      1. Instead of mandating the number of replaced parts, what about grid penalties for exceeding budget caps? You can replace the engine as much as you want, but when you exceed the overall cap you get penalized with actual grid positions.

        1. That’s even more ridiculous. Teams would manage to hide spending anyway.

        2. Also a good proposal, but some might find that ‘a joke’ and refer to them as “these silly penalties just make the sport look ridiculous.”

          I’m not a fan of these penalties either (but I don’t have a better solution, unless you want to penalise them after the race). The upside though is that we get a front runner attacking the field from the back which in many cases spices up the racing.

          1. Mmmm. Penalties after the race. If you mean penalty places, that would take away the advantage of taking penalties at Spa – you’d go back 20 places from your finishing position. Of course that means you might choose to stop after 1 lap to save your new engine for the next race.

            Any grid/race penalty system will be ‘optimised’ by the strategists with undesirable side-effects. Maybe a championship points penalty would work better but then some teams/drivers would end the season with negative points.

            The rules were introduced to reduce costs. The budget cap has since been introduced for the same reason. Drop the unpopular grid penalties and sharpen up the budget cap.

  3. Penalizing breaking the rules on engine components with grid penalties continues to be silly, especially when there are such better options now available to the FIA. For the likes of Haas, a 20 place drop is effectively only 6 places (at most) as Schumacher’s average qualifying position this year is 14th. The point of the rules is to race with X number of components, not X+3 and a bunch of (near meaningless) penalties. Penalize them on the budget cap instead.

    1. Components already cost money.
      Hope this helps 👍

    2. I disagree. Penalizing competitors for PU changes on the base of the budget cap hits the customer teams far harder than the big works teams. Take Bottas, who already used 5 units this season and will likely use two more. If Sauber was penalized for exceeding the allowed allocation by 4 units, they’d likely have to stop racing at some point during the season and it’s not even their fault.
      The FIA should police PU changes by the rule “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!” (replacements only in case of damage) and in any other case only allow changes if every car they power has got the same spec that weekend.

      1. That’s a fair point. Teams who are dependent on a third party for their engines are indeed in a more difficult position. A manufacturer might even refuse to supply them engines if the team requests that they pay a fixed amount for the whole season, regardless of the number of engine components needed.

        Ultimately though, a lot of these restrictions were brought in throughout the mid 2000s and onwards to limit the spending of the teams. With the spending cap now in place, they can start to roll back a lot of those restrictions and instead keep costs under control by strongly enforcing (and ideally, gradually bringing down) the budget cap. It’s still rather ridiculous to have teams spend 150 million on running their two cars through 20 race weekends.

  4. RBR voluntarily exceeding PU element allocations on the same weekend as Ferrari is somewhat foolish as this limits Max’s chances of further increasing his already massive points lead.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      26th August 2022, 14:28

      Better to do it at same time as Leclerc than having to do it later in the session, Red Bull already indicated they expected to have to go to an extra engine and Spa is 1 of the better tracks that are remaining to start at the back.

      For the championship battle it makes little difference if Leclerc/Verstappen start on front row or 8th row.

      For sure it is better to replace now and do Spa with a fresh engine than blow up his engine during the race and having to take engine penalties at Zandvoort.

    2. @jerejj I’m fully with @jelle-van-der-meer here. Obviously RBR expected to have to take new PU elements further down the line so if they have to do that, it makes full sense to do it when Charles does so.

      Consider this: suppose they don’t do it here but at a different race. And then here on Sunday we have a totally bonkers race that sees rain and a few SC’s by means of which Charles can finish P2 or even come back to win and thus minimize or even close the points gap some. Then Max has to hope he has an equally eventful race when he takes his grid drop further down the line, or he’ll be at a net loss.

      Max taking the grid penalty here means he will be able to make use of the same opportunities (if any) that the race provides.

      And yeah it might be the other way around but as it is enough for Max to basically shadow Charles, it makes more sense to do just that.

      1. @jelle-van-der-meer @mattds
        I ultimately ended up agreeing with your views as they’re valid.

    3. Red Bull probably figures that they can beat Ferrari when given the same options and circumstances. That’s a pretty reasonable assumption given how the season has played out.

      In fact, they can probably ignore Ferrari altogether and just do their own thing.

  5. Liberty trying to get a reverse grid race by the back door. Shaking my damn helmet

  6. Huge opportunity for Mercedes this weekend then! Does seem like it’s 1 engine too little this year, imagine the whole grid will have to take a penalty at some point

  7. Albon for pole!

    Seriously though, this is ridiculous. It does feel like a thinly veiled attempt to manufacture a reverse grid. Fining the teams for exceeding their parts limits would be the correct thing to do, but that doesn’t make for good viewing on Netflix.

    1. @dot_com the correct thing to do is following the sporting regulations, which they are.

      Fining the teams for PU overspending would mean the drivers get a free pass for the WDC. They get more fresh (and thus faster) engines than the rules prescribe without a penalty and are at an advantage for scoring more points.

  8. It’s not really going to be much of a penalty give how absurdly overpowered the completely unnecessary DRS zone on the kemmel straight always is.

  9. LOL. It’s F1 2022 AI penalties

  10. It’ll actually be quite interesting to see Max and Charles battle each other whilst they move through the field. Looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Watching them pass slower cars isn’t interesting but this way, they aren’t separated for the whole race.

    1. Absolutely, I see a lot of negativity on this comment section but this gives at least a possibility to have a great race, having leclerc and verstappen start basically at the back, if they don’t crash or get reliability problems, and norris is strong too with a decent car.

  11. Let’s see how Sainz will manage to throw the win in the fastest car with the main two contenders Max and Charles out of contention.

    1. Ahah, that’s not hard to guess, is it? He will get outperformed by the merc drivers and barely make the podium!

  12. Bought Belgian GP race tickets? Haha, screw you – again, says the FIA. We’ll ruin your show and penalise the drivers you’ve been waiting all year to see.
    Leave the grid alone, just hit the teams with fines and constructors’ point penalties. Nobody outside the teams (or desperate TV presenters with airtime to fill) cares about that championship.

    1. @bullfrog fining the teams for PU overspending would mean the drivers get a free pass for the WDC. They get more fresh (and thus faster) engines than the rules prescribe without a penalty and are at an advantage for scoring more points.

      That is not fair.

    2. I believe leclerc and verstappen can have a great battle also while overtaking slower cars, maybe better.

    3. What a bizarre comment, @bullfrog.
      Your idea of a good race is when the fastest cars start at the front and drive away without ever actually racing anyone?

      What we’ll get is far better, as a couple of the fastest and most aggressive contenders are out of position. And when that happens, the race is (almost) always better.

      I’d pay more to see that consistently, if only I could pay less on the occasions the grid is ordered according to car/driver performance.

  13. Engine penalties add another layer of strategizing and makes F1 more interesting. The teams are fully aware of the various ramifications and plan accordingly. It’s a team sport, not just a Drivers Championship, and the Constructors Championship ought to reward and penalize for major component wear, reliability and durability.

    1. Agreed. I don’t understand the moaning about these penalties. It’s what the teams agreed on, they want this. And I like the strategic gamesmanship around it. It will be interesting

    2. @greenflag

      Agreed completely!
      These penalties are, for the most part, known and to be expected.
      Strategic application of these penalties minimises the effect and is part of the game.

      Moaners should focus their attention on other, more egregious, parts of the sport.

  14. The above article has been updated to reflect additional penalties which were issued following the original ones.

Comments are closed.