Verstappen set for five-place grid penalty in Belgium

motorsport28 July 2023 11:16| © Reuters
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Red Bull's dominant Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen will have a five-place grid penalty for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix after a gearbox change.

The team confirmed ahead of Friday's practice at Spa-Francorchamps that the double world champion would be using his fifth gearbox of the season, one more than the rules allow without penalty.

Verstappen is unlikely to be too concerned, having won at Spa – one of his favourite tracks with plenty of overtaking opportunities – last year after starting from 14th place on the grid due to engine penalties.

He arrives this time with Red Bull set for a record-extending 13th win in a row and 12th of the season, which would make them the first team to achieve such a streak in a single campaign.

Verstappen has won the last seven races and is chasing his 10th out of 12.

He leads Mexican teammate Sergio Perez by 110 points.

"Even if they started last in every race, they’re going to come through, no matter if there's the DRS (drag reduction) or not," McLaren's Lando Norris told reporters on Thursday.

The Belgian Grand Prix is a sprint event this year, with qualifying for Sunday's race later on Friday.

The grid penalty will not apply to Saturday's standalone sprint.