Max Verstappen handed major blow at 2023 Belgian GP

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has been handed a major blow at this weekend's 2023 Belgian GP.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen is set to be hit with a grid penalty at the Belgian Grand Prix, dropping him five places before the race even begins. 

The penalty comes as Verstappen is set to use his fifth gearbox of the season, surpassing the limit of four gearbox units allowed per driver before incurring penalties.

A report by De Telegraaf unveiled the news, revealing that Verstappen will exceed his gearbox allocation at Spa-Francorchamps. 

Under the F1 regulations, drivers are permitted to use up to four gearbox units throughout the season, after which penalties are imposed for any additional changes.

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The decision to take the fifth gearbox stems from failures experienced by Verstappen during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah earlier in the 2023 season. 

As a result of the impending penalty, Verstappen’s starting position for Sunday’s grand prix will be no higher than sixth place, assuming he secures pole position in Friday’s qualifying session.

With a remarkable 110-point lead over his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in the F1 world championship standings, Verstappen has been in exceptional form this season. 

However, the grid penalty at the Belgian GP will present a significant challenge for him to secure an eighth successive victory.

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Notably, Verstappen has encountered grid penalties in the past, and his performances have demonstrated his ability to overcome such setbacks. 

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Given his success this season, it is unlikely that Verstappen will be impeded by a five place grid drop, especially with the added benefit of the fresh part.

However, with Verstappen forced to start from, at best, sixth, the weekend proves an opportunity for Sergio Perez to stamp his mark on Red Bull, dismissing questions over his future.

The Mexican’s career at Red Bull has been in doubt but, at Spa, he can secure pole and potentially take victory for the third time this season, showing he can fight for P1 again.