Verstappen, Hulkenberg facing Austin grid penalties

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, United States Grand Prix
© XPB 

Max Verstappen is one of a number of drivers expected to receive a grid penalty for Sunday's United States Grand Prix.

He is reportedly set for a minimum grid drop of 15 places after the team committed to taking a new Renault V6 for this weekend's race. All going well, it should be his final engine change of the season.

Red Bull says it is changing the engine this weekend rather than waiting until Mexico because there are better overtaking opportunities at the Circuit of the Americas.

"At least you can overtake so it's not such a problem," the team's motorsports consultant Dr Helmut Marko told Autosport magazine. ""I don't know exactly what will be changed and what won't be. Wait until Saturday."

Verstappen's grid penalty is not included in the initial official list released by the FIA on Friday. However, other drivers' fates have already been sealed.

Brendon Hartley already knows that he will receive a 25-place grid drop for his Formula 1 début.

He has taken over Pierre Gasly's car for the weekend. It will receive its sixth new engine, sixth MGU-H, fifth Energy Store and fifth Control Electronics unit this weekend.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg will have to overcome a 20-place demotion this weekend. He's taken on a fifth engine, turbo and MGU-H. Drivers are only allowed four of each in a season.

McLaren have long since crossed that threshold. Stoffel Vandoorne receives his eighth engine this weekend. As a result, he gets hit with another ten place grid penalty on Sunday.

His team mate Fernando Alonso, who has just confirmed a contract extension for 2018, may yet be joining him at the back.

The two-time world champion completed only four shakedown laps in Friday morning's first free practice session. He was unable to complete a timed lap due to a hydraulics issue on the ill-starred MCL32.

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