F1 News: Max Verstappen to take 5-place grid drop in Belgium

Max Verstappen is set to take a fresh gearbox for this weekend’s Belgian GP and receive a 5-place grid penalty. The Dutchman will take an opportunity at a track where overtaking is relatively easy to make this change.

The Belgian and Italian GP are often where teams choose to make engine changes and receive strategic grid penalties, given the characteristics of these circuits.

Both Spa and Monza require plenty of horsepower, so using a new power unit or gearbox is always advantageous from a performance perspective.

It is also true that – since several teams make power unit changes at these circuits – the grid penalty is somewhat mitigated by rivals.

This was seen last season, where some drivers actually gained places during qualifying despite making engine or gearbox changes – due to the activities throughout the grid.

Red Bull and Verstappen have proven an almost unbeatable combination in 2023, so even a grid penalty will not be enough to make another driver the favourite to take victory this weekend.

With that said, the 25-year-old’s afternoon could still be complicated by starting in the middle of the pack – although this has hardly stopped him in the past.

McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari, and (to a lesser extent) Aston Martin will aim to capitalise on any opportunities presented to them this weekend.

Rain is already falling in the Spa Francorchamps circuit, as it is forecast to be for qualifying and even the Sprint Race tomorrow.

More updates can be expected regarding grid penalties over the next few hours, which will go some way in shaping the playing field going into Sunday. A wet qualifying could further shake things up.

In any case, the nature of the Sprint Race format for this weekend will force teams to adapt to the challenges and unknown variables that present themselves.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang