SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium -- Six drivers, including F1 championship rivals Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, will start towards the rear of the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix after receiving penalties for power unit and gearbox changes.
Verstappen, Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas, and Mick Schumacher will make up the back six places on the grid at Sunday's race after all six drivers had multiple components changed on their cars that took them over their quota for the year.
Engine penalties exist in F1 in order to promote cost saving. The amount of engine and gearbox components used on each car is capped per season, with grid penalties applied to drivers who exceed their quota.
Depending on whether it is the first time the component is exceeded or another time thereafter, drivers receive either 10 or five place penalties, but if the total penalty adds up to 20 or more positions on the grid due to multiple component changes at once, the drivers are simply given a 'back of grid' penalty.
However, because of the way in which the rules are worded and the timing in which different drivers have taken their new components, Leclerc and Schumacher did not technically receive a back of grid penalty and will start ahead of the other four on the grid.
Leclerc took a 15 place penalty in first practice, and a separate five place penalty in second practice. Although that makes 20 places in total, which would equal an automatic back of the grid penalty if it was taken at once, because it was split across two sessions it is not classified as 20 places or more in a 'single penalty', as the rules dictate. The same applies to Schumacher, who took two sperate 10 place penalties across the two sessions.
In theory, that should mean Leclerc and Schumacher automatically start ahead of the other four drivers who took all of their components at once and received a back of the grid penalty. Their positions will be determined by how they qualify relative to each other on Saturday.