Red Bull Racing has elected to change Max Verstappen’s entire power unit structure, both the engine and the hybrid systems, ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix. Because of the choice, Verstappen will now start at the back of the field on Sunday.
The decision is a tactical one. Red Bull would have needed to change the engine anyway after losing one of its allotted power units in a crash during the British Grand Prix, a decision that was always going to incur a full-grid penalty. When Verstappen was given a three-place penalty for causing a collision in the Italian Grand Prix, the widespread prediction in Formula 1 circles was that his team would choose to take that painful hit now, when the car is all but guaranteed to be pushed behind both Mercedes entries even if Verstappen sets the fastest time in qualifying. That decision is amplified by expected wet qualifying tomorrow, a recipe for chaos that leads to odd results on Saturday and a great opportunity to climb through the ranks more easily on Sunday. For the full story, check out this article from Road & Track.