Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez have both been forced into making a gearbox change ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. As a result, they will drop five places on the grid from their position in qualifying later today.
Under the technical regulations for 2014, gearboxes must last six consecutive race weekends, although usage remains free and flexible on Fridays. As per the last few years, any driver that requires a new gearbox unit is susceptible to a five place grid penalty.
Williams’ successful weekend in Australia hit a bump in the road as Bottas could only complete two laps in the final practice session on Saturday afternoon. The Finn was unable to post a lap time, and the team later confirmed on Twitter that a new gearbox was required on the #77 car, warranting a five place grid drop.
The team are straight on with a gearbox change for Valtteri to ensure we are ready for qualifying – which means a 5place grid penalty
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) March 15, 2014
Gutierrez’s gearbox problem also came during the final practice session. After ten minutes in FP3, the Mexican’s Sauber C33 began to slow out on track. Although he did manage to get the car back to the pits, Gutierrez was unable to come out again. With a fresh gearbox though, he will be able to take part in qualifying, albeit knowing that he will drop five places from his final qualifying position.
In order to complete more work on their cars, both Marussia and Lotus broke their curfews overnight. However, they are permitted to do so on occasion throughout the season, meaning that there will be no penalty.
In a couple of minor changes, Q1 has been shortened by two minutes, whilst Q3 has been extended by two minutes. Drivers will no longer start on the tire that they set their fastest time in Q3 on, but instead the compound which they use in Q2. Those making it through to Q3 will also receive an extra set of option tires, encouraging multiple runs in the final session.
Qualifying begins at 2am ET on NBCSN and Live Extra.