In the buildup to race day, it seems that the FIA are not finished, dishing out penalties. The latest drivers to fall prey to this are home driver Stoffel Vandoorne and Renault’s Carlos Sainz. They join the likes of Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo, with their own penalties.
While Vandoorne will be starting last, Sainz will be joining him on the last row of the grid. The difference is that Vandoorne would’ve been starting last, penalty or no penalty. It seems that both drivers have taken new power units for today’s race.
It had already been a miserable weekend for the local driver. He was forced off the circuit by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas on the Kemmel Straight. Vandoorne went onto the grass and was pitched into a spin. Fortunately he lived to tell the tale and his car lived to race another day.
Sainz had originally qualified 14th on the grid but will drop to 19th ahead of Vandoorne. Hopefully, the two drivers will be able to make their way up the order. Also, they will have a free reign of strategy and have fresh engines for the race.
The two drivers did not have a good qualifying session either with both failing to make it out of Q1.
Sainz struggled with excessive oversteer and ended up 16th quickest on Saturday, having felt earlier in this weekend that he could challenge for the top 10. Vandoorne had a tougher time, qualifying dead last and, having also been slowest in all three practice sessions, admitting “nothing has gone right” at his home race this weekend.
Speaking to media on Saturday, Sainz said Renault were evaluating all options, which included engine component changes or starting from the pits to allow his team to make changes to the car.
And on Sunday, the FIA announced the Spaniard would fit a fourth internal combustion engine – his second of the weekend – as well as a fourth turbo and MGH-H, and a third MGH-K, energy store and control electronics.
Vandoorne has done the same, taking his fourth ICE, turbo and MGU-H plus a third MGU-K, energy store and control electronics.
As both have exceeded their allocations with the changes, it is a breach of article 23.3 of the sporting regulations and they are required to start the race from the back of the grid.
Sainz will line up 19th ahead of Vandoorne on the final row of the grid, with Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg, who took engine penalties earlier in the weekend, promoted two places to 17th and 18th respectively.