SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Six drivers, including F1 championship rivals Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, will start towards the back of the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix after receiving penalties for power unit changes and gearbox.
Verstappen, Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas, and Mick Schumacher will form the back six on the grid in Sunday’s race after all six drivers had multiple component changes to their cars to take over. to their quota for the year.
Engine penalties exist in F1 to promote cost savings. The amount of engine and gearbox parts used in each car is limited each season, with grid penalties applied to drivers who exceed their quota.
Depending on whether it is the first time the segment has been overtaken or later after that, drivers will receive either a 10 or five place penalty, but only if the total penalty adds up to 20 or more positions on the grid due to multiple phase changes at once, drivers are only given a ‘back of grid’ penalty.
However, due to the way the rules were worded and the timing in which the various drivers took their new parts, Leclerc and Schumacher did not technically receive a back of grid penalty and would start ahead of the other four on the grid.
Leclerc received a 15-place penalty in the first practice, and a separate five-place penalty in the second practice. Although that makes 20 places in total, which would be the equivalent of an automatic back grid penalty if it was taken at the same time, because it’s split into two sessions, it doesn’t class as 20 places or more in a ‘single penalty’ , as the rules dictate. The same applies to Schumacher, who took two sperate 10 place penalties in two sessions.
In theory, that means Leclerc and Schumacher automatically start ahead of the other four drivers who took all their parts at the same time and received a back of the grid penalty. Their positions will be determined by how they qualify against each other on Saturday.