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Formula 1 Belgian GP

Verstappen hit with Belgian GP grid penalty after F1 gearbox change

Max Verstappen is to take a five-place grid penalty for Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix after taking an extra gearbox. 

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Red Bull said ahead of Friday running at Spa-Francorchamps that it had elected to fit a fifth gearbox to Verstappen’s RB19 for this weekend’s race. 

F1 drivers are limited to four of the gearboxes assemblies for the full season and Verstappen is the first driver to exceed that. 

The move comes after an early part of the season where Verstappen frequently complained about gear sync issues, although it is not known if this is related to the reason why he has burned through so many gearboxes.

The decision by Red Bull to swap gearboxes at Spa is logical, as the good overtaking opportunities offered by the Belgian track mean it is a place where teams are more comfortable to take grid drops.

With Red Bull in a class of its own this season, a five-place drop for Verstappen is unlikely to prove too much of a hurdle to him targeting another win.

Speaking on Thursday, Verstappen said that there was little to worry about considering the recent dominance of the RB19 at the Hungaroring.

“I think we have a quick car,” he said. “Of course, there are a lot of other teams and I think they brought a lot more than us this year, because we couldn't.

Winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Red Bull Racing

“But we are very happy with how the car is performing. Our Saturday is maybe not ideal, but I think on the Sunday you can see the upgrades we brought. It [Hungary] was a good race to see it working.”

Last year, Verstappen started 14th on the grid in Belgium but charged through to take a dominant victory.

Although the F1 season is only just past its halfway stage, several drivers are on the bubble for gearbox penalties.

Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez also has used al four of his gearboxes, alongside Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Haas duo Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen.

With Gasly and Hulkenberg also running their final allocation of powerunit components, they would most like take an extra gearbox if it was decided to take fresh engines.

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