Reigning champion Max Verstappen given grid penalty at Italian GP

(Motorsport) World Champion Max Verstappen will receive a five place grid penalty after Red Bull Racing installed a fifth internal combustion engine (ICE) component to the Dutchman’s car. The 24 year old is currently 109 points ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the Drivers Standings but the Monegasque driver has a good chance to reduce that deficit by winning the Italian Grand Prix in front of the Tifosi due to his rivals’ penalty. Scuderia Ferrari have had some serious strategy concerns this season and any kind of victory at Monza will depend on whether the team can collectively pull together and make the right in-race decisions.

Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz will also be at the back of the grid after incurring an engine penalty along with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who will take a 10 place grid penalty for exceeding his allocation of internal combustion engine (ICE). Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas has also had a new ICE installed along with an MGU-H and a turbocharger, which means he will have a 15 place penalty. AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda will also start at the back of the grid, taking a 10 place penalty for exceeding the amount of changes allowed in a season. One of the reasons why teams are opting to make changes in the cars at the Italian GP is because Monza’s circuit is known for long straights and overtaking opportunities, which means that grid penalties on the drivers’ final result can be minimised due to the nature of the track.

As for Ferrari, this represents an excellent opportunity to race for pride and finally get a win in front of their own fans. The F1-75 is sporting a new livery for the Italian GP, with splashes of yellow in the front and back of the car to celebrate the team’s 75 years of existence. While Ferrari have the drivers and a car capable of competing, the team have shot themselves in the foot more often than not this season during the race, despite doing exceedingly well in qualifying. Speaking ahead of the race, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said “Monza is not like Spa in terms of track layout. It is low downforce but we never expected it to be like Spa. But if we can find a way to get even half way then I think we have a good chance. Ferrari look good. I'm not worried about it. We still have a few things to finalise but if you look at the long runs, I think we look quite good and that's the most important for the race." 

Mercedes, who have largely had an underwhelming season, appeared to be struggling more in Final Practice 2 compared to the first one. George Russell said “It's a bit of a strange day. P1 was looking pretty strong but then Ferrari and Red Bull seemed to take a step forward compared to us – or maybe we have taken a step back as we were behind the McLaren in P2. So a bit of work has to be done to understand what's behind that. Generally speaking, we are lacking a bit of deployment. I think we are similar to Red Bull but Ferrari seem to have the upper hand in terms of deployment as they have a bit more in the locker to deal with. It is something we are going to have to deal with." 

Also read: Lewis Hamilton to incur grid penalty at the Italian Grand Prix


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