Three drivers – Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley – are already confirmed to have grid penalties for power unit changes at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
This year’s regulations permit each car to use only four of each of the six elements that comprise a power unit before grid penalties are imposed. The first time a fifth element is used will trigger a 10-place grid penalty, with additional 5-place drops for the fifth time any of the remaining elements is used. The pattern repeats for the sixth new power unit element, and so on.
Hülkenberg’s Renault was fitted with its sixth MGU-H, fifth ICE and fifth Turbocharger ahead of Friday’s first practice session at the Circuit of the Americas, meaning the German driver (pictured above) will take a 20-place grid penalty.
Vandoorne, who has incurred a number of grid penalties this season thanks to ongoing reliability and performance issues with his McLaren-Honda package, will take a five-place grid penalty for taking on an eighth Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). The new ‘Spec 3.8’ ICE features a number of “small updates”, Honda has confirmed.
Formula 1 debutante Brendon Hartley will frustrating take a grid penalty on his maiden Grand Prix outing. The New Zealander’s Toro Rosso STR12 chassis – previously raced by Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly – has been fitted with its sixth ICE and MGU-H, as well as its fifth Energy Store and Control Electronics. His grid penalty totals 25 places.
With only a handful of races to go until the end of the season, it is expected that more grid penalties will be imposed before Sunday’s race.
Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen has taken on a fourth Energy Store and Control Electronics, and is rumoured to be taking on a new Internal Combustion Engine that could see him imposed with a grid penalty.
Image via Renault Sport F1
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