Two weeks after taking a fully new power unit in Belgium, Red Bull has decided to add a new internal combustion engine to Verstappen’s engine pool, incurring a five-place penalty for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
Monza is seen as a prime opportunity to introduce new power units and take a grid penalty as its long straights should make moving up the field much easier than at the next races in Singapore and Japan.
Therefore, Verstappen will add a fresh fifth ICE to his pool while taking a minimal hit.
As widely expected, Verstappen’s teammate Perez has also had a fresh V6 engine installed.
As it is the first time Perez has exceeded his allowance of three ICEs, he will take a 10-place grid penalty. Perez has also taken his fourth gearbox, which is still within limits.
In recent races Ferrari has staggered its engine penalties, however, and so Sainz’s penalty could yet be converted into a back of the grid start if Ferrari opts to replace more parts.
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Either way Sainz will be joined at the rear by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who has also taken a fourth power unit of the season, as was announced on Thursday.
Yuki Tsunoda will start at the back of the grid as well. The AlphaTauri driver had been slapped with a 10-place grid penalty for receiving a fifth reprimand of the season in Zandvoort last week, where he was penalised for driving to the pits with his seatbelts loosened after he stopped on track.
With Tsunoda taking a penalty anyway, AlphaTauri has taken the opportunity to give him new power unit.
Finally, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas has also turned F1’s wheel of fortune and came away with a 15-place grid drop for taking a new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H from Ferrari.
With his immediate rivals taking a grid penalty, Charles Leclerc’s chances of winning his second Italian Grand Prix on Ferrari’s home soil have received a boost, although the penalties for Sainz, Perez and Hamilton have afforded Verstappen an easier path to the front.