The FIA Stewards have already had a busy time of it at the Belgian Grand Prix. Officials have handed grid penalties to McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and both Sauber drivers, while Williams was slapped with a €10,000 fine.
Local driver Vandoorne will start from the back of the grid of his home race at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps after being hit with a 40-place grid penalty. The Belgian and teammate Fernando Alonso both ran updated Honda power units in Friday practice, however only Vandoorne will serve a grid penalty.
Vandoorne’s MCL32 was fitted with is eighth MGU-H and turbocharger of the season, attracting a 10- and 5-place grid drop respectively. Additionally, his car was fitted with its sixth Control Electronic and Energy Store, and its fifth MGU-K and internal combustion engine – all of which attract a drop of five grid spots apiece.
After Friday’s two practice sessions, McLaren opted to make an unscheduled change to his car’s gearbox, attracting another five-place grid penalty to take his tally to 40 places.
Sauber duo Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein will both service five-place grid penalties for also undergoing unscheduled gearbox changes.
Williams, meanwhile, was fined €10,000 for a tyre breach in the opening practice session by running a tyre set on Lance Stroll’s car that it was supposed to hand back to Pirelli after the opening forty minutes of FP1.
The current regulations allow each car is allocated one set of tyres exclusively for use in the first 40 minutes of the opening practice session which must be returned to Pirelli. As a result of the red flag suspension that ironically occurred when Stroll’s teammate Felipe Massa crashed heavily at Malmedy, the tyre allocation time limit was extended by a further nine minutes.
Williams, however, failed to return the tyres and ran them on Stroll’s car on two subsequent stints. While describing the error as “inadvertent” in their findings, the FIA Stewards panel awarded the standard fine as penalty.
This is not the first time Williams had struck tyre trouble at Spa-Francorchamps. In the 2015 race, Valtteri Bottas was forced to return to the pits and additionally serve a drive-through penalty for being released from his pit stop with one Medium and three Soft compound tyres fitted to his car.
Images via LAT Images and McLaren Honda