Max Verstappen picks up five-place grid penalty for Belgian GP

Verstappen is looking for a 14th consecutive Red Bull win in Belgium.

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Max Verstappen will start Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix from no higher than sixth after Red Bull decided to install his fifth gearbox of the season, giving the Dutchman a five-place grid penalty.

All drivers are permitted only four examples of gearbox components throughout the season: gearbox case and cassette, gearbox drive line, gear change components, and auxiliary components. 

Red Bull tactically decided to fit a new gearbox for Spa, where overtaking is more accessible, mainly down the Kemmel straight, which has a DRS zone at the entry.

The penalty will apply to Sunday’s race and not Saturday’s Sprint race, which will likely occur in damp, wet conditions. 

Verstappen, who has won the last seven consecutive races, enters the Belgian GP weekend with a 110-point lead over teammate Sergio Perez.

So far, Red Bull has won every race in 2023, and in Hungary, they beat McLaren’s winning streak of 13 consecutive wins in a season which they achieved in 1988.

Verstappen’s previous success when coming from behind

It will not be the first time Verstappen will have it all to do at Spa, with the Dutchman winning the 2022 Belgian GP even further back on the grid.

On the first race back since the summer break, Verstappen had taken pole position by over half a second from Carlos Sainz and Perez.

Verstappen and seven other drivers, including Charles Leclerc, were required to start the race from the back of the grid after exceeding his quota of power unit elements putting the Dutchman 14th on the grid.

However, the penalty didn’t slow Verstappen down as he charged to eighth by Lap 1 and by Lap 12, he had taken the lead from Sainz before stopping for tyres on Lap 15.

It would take only three laps before Verstappen retook the lead, which he wouldn’t relinquish on taking his ninth win of 2022 to clinch his second world championship.

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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