Verstappen and Hartley Expected to Suffer Grid Penalties in Austin
New power plants and computer systems could place the Red Bull sister teams at the back of the grid.
It was announced on Friday that Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley will face significant grid penalties at the United States Grand Prix. As team motorsport advisor Helmut Marko told Autosport, Verstappen will likely be dealt a 15-position minimum deficit as a result of a complete Renault engine change. In regards to Hartley, a slew of upgrades will be performed on the Toro Rosso car in his debut, likely starting him in last place regardless of how he performs in qualifying.
Red Bull hopes that this will be the last engine change of the season, cutting down on any more penalties in the last three races of the calendar following Austin. Verstappen is coming off of back-to-back podiums in Malaysia and Japan after suffering 7 DNFs earlier in the year. The decision was made to perform these upgrades prior to the USGP as Marko believes it to be Max's best shot at overcoming a low starting grid position.
"At least you can overtake so it's not such a problem," he told Autosport. "And it could be wet. I don't know exactly what will be changed and what won't be. Wait until Saturday."
This will be Verstappen's first race after the announcement that he will stay with Red Bull through the 2020 season.
As for Hartley, his car will be treated to its sixth Renault V6 of the season, surpassing the allotted amount of power plant changes by series officials. This, along with the team's fifth energy store and control electronics, could earn the 27-year-old Kiwi a 30-position penalty in his Formula 1 debut.
STR team principal Franz Tost confirmed the move to Autosport and explained that the decision was made before it was announced that Hartley would be replacing Pierre Gasly at Sunday's race. He then added that the team's sister entry will also receive a host of upgrades in Mexico, meaning that more penalties could be on the way for the Faenza-based crew.