Jean-Éric Vergne has become the third driver this season to cop a ten-place grid penalty for exceeding his power unit element allocation, and will be starting at the back of the grid for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit.
The Frenchman follows in the footsteps of Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat (who became the first driver to earn the penalty during the Italian Grand Prix last month) in earning the penalty. He’ll share the back row of the grid with Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado, who also earned a ten-place grid penalty this weekend. Not surprisingly given their wealth of early-season reliability issues, all impacted runners (so far) are Renault-powered.
Per the new rules, the first time a sixth element within the ‘power unit’ is used, a ten-place grid penalty is applied, followed by a five-place grid penalty for the sixth use of any other element. The process continues for the seventh use and so on, while a replacement of the entire power unit will result in a pit lane start.
With Vergne having qualified eleventh-fastest, he’ll serve the entire grid penalty in one hit by lining up in 21st place for today’s race. Maldonado, however, will have his penalty spread over two Grands Prix by dint of qualifying just seventeenth: five places will be dropped this weekend, and a further five will be taken at next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
Image via XPB Images