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Max Verstappen braced for 15-place grid drop for USGP

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Max Verstappen will drop 15 places on the grid for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix after being hit with a penalty for changing parts on his Formula 1 power unit overnight.

Verstappen entered the USGP weekend at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas hopeful of scoring his third straight podium, having won in Malaysia at the beginning of the month and finished second in Japan two weeks ago.

The Dutchman’s hopes have now been dented after Red Bull elected to fit a new internal combustion engine and MGU-H on his Renault power unit, having been short on parts to make it to the end of the season.

The changes were confirmed by FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer in his pre-qualifying report, as well as revealing Sergio Perez had taken a new MGU-K, albeit without triggering a penalty as Force India has remained within its season allocation.

Verstappen becomes the fourth driver to take a grid penalty for the USGP, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso rookie Brendon Hartley also taking drops due to power unit changes.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”