Verstappen cops Russian GP penalty for F1 power unit change
By Mat Coch
Friday 24th September, 2021 - 11:55pm
World championship leader Max Verstappen will start Sunday’s Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix from the rear of the grid.
The Dutchman headed into this weekend’s event with a three-place grid penalty hanging over his head following race-ending contact with Lewis Hamilton in Italy last time out.
That, coupled with the expectation that he would require a fourth power unit before the end of the season, led to suggestions Red Bull would take the pain this weekend.
Prior to Free Practice 2 in Russia, a swathe of new components were fitted to Verstappen’s car, confirming his fate.
The Dutchman received a new internal combustion unit, turbocharger, MGU-K and MGU-H, energy store, control electronics, and exhaust ahead of the weekend’s second 60-minute session.
The team had previously suggested it would take a wait and see approach, deciding only after qualifying whether the penalties associated with a power unit change were worthwhile.
With Saturday’s track action expected to be, at very least, wet, and potentially even rained out, the decision was made to bring the switch forward to gain some dry running.
The points leader ended Friday with the sixth fastest time in Practice 2, just over a second off the pace of Valtteri Bottas.
The Red Bull driver will be joined at the back of the grid by Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari driver having also received a new power unit this weekend.
Of the front runners, only Hamilton has not taken a fourth unit so far this season.
Sergio Perez took his medicine at the Dutch Grand Prix, while Mercedes opted to fit Bottas’ Mercedes with a new power unit in Monza last time out.