When will Max Verstappen take inevitable grid penalty?

Verstappen will incur a 10-place grid drop as he's already used his allocation of three engines in 2024


Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is almost guaranteed a grid penalty to the tune of 10 places after the Dutch driver’s engine failure at the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix means he will have to take a fourth engine of the season, but where will he take it?

Formula 1 regulations determine drivers can use a pool of three engines for the season, which are supposed to last 24 races and six Sprint events as well as qualifying for each of them but it’s almost a foregone conclusion drivers have to take extra ones despite the incredible reliability of modern PUs.

The policy is partially driven by the sport’s green agenda as it aims to reduce it’s carbon footprint and impact on the global environment, whilst it is part of a bid to limit running costs as part of the financial regulations, essentially stopping rich teams taking a new engine whenever they feel like it.

So, when the electrical failure occurred at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, it meant that if Honda could not preserve it then a grid penalty for Verstappen was all but ensured for the three-time world champion, as he guns for his fourth consecutive title.

Ahead of the 2024 Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring, it seems as though the Japanese engine manufacturer will be unable to repair the energy recovery system, which failed in Free Practice 2 in Canada, meaning Red Bull now have to think about where the penalty will do the least damage.

Max Verstappen in the pits during practice at the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen in the pits during practice at the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Where will Verstappen take 10-place grid penalty?

A 10-place penalty can be very damaging to a team’s bid to score big points by giving their rivals a significant advantage and it usually takes a massive pace deficit to be able to offset that grid-drop such as Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 Brazilian GP or Verstappen at the 2022 Belgian GP.

Speaking of which, it’s likely to be the 2024 Belgian GP where the Dutchman will take his penalty as the track has been historically strong for Red Bull, who have won the previous three races at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

The longest circuit on the F1 calendar requires a lot of engines, meaning a fresh PU is rewarding, whilst Sector 2 puts significant focus on retaining good downforce, so it means a DRS train is less likely to occur than circuits like the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy, making overtaking easier.

Additionally, a fresh PU combined with high downforce loads is more rewarding because the extra kilometres per hour offered can overcome drag making the slipstream and DRS even more powerful for picking off rival cars.

Red Bull took penalties there in 2022 and 2023, with Verstappen going on to win both races comfortably from 14th and sixth despite his teammate starting on pole for the former and second in the latter.

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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