SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Stoffel Vandoorne’s 35-place grid penalty for his home Belgian Grand Prix will balloon to 65 after McLaren changed the car’s gearbox ahead of Saturday qualifying and Honda replaced the power unit.
The increased penalty is embarrassing but meaningless with only 20 cars competing and grid drops not carried over to subsequent races.
The Belgian was set to start last anyway.
Vandoorne was hit with a 35-place penalty after Honda replaced the power unit, a breach of regulations limiting the number that a driver can use during the season.
The unscheduled gearbox change brought a further five-place drop, while the further change of power unit incurred another 25-place hit.
Honda said they had detected a potential issue in the engine after Friday practice and had decided to change it as a precaution.
Sunday’s race is the rookie’s first home grand prix and he will be the first Belgian to appear before his countrymen since Jerome d‘Ambrosio in 2011.
Vandoorne has scored just one point so far this season with ninth-placed former champions McLaren struggling with poor engine reliability and a marked power disadvantage at fast circuits such as Spa.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John O'Brien