Pastor Maldonado facing 10-place grid penalty at Suzuka

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Pastor Maldonado is set to be given a 10-place grid penalty by the stewards at Suzuka for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix after Lotus changed the internal combustion engine on his E22 car today.

As part of the new engine regulations for the 2014 season, teams were permitted to use just five of each engine component across the course of the year.

However, with the new power units proving to be particularly troublesome, most of the drivers are expected to be hit with some sort of engine penalty before the end of the season.

In Italy, Daniil Kvyat became the first driver to use a sixth component, warranting a 10-place grid penalty. After qualifying 11th, the Russian driver dropped to 21st place on the grid at Monza.

Had he not been able to take the whole penalty in Italy, it would have been carried over to the next race in Singapore. Given Maldonado’s poor qualifying form this year, it is unlikely he will qualify any higher than 12th on Saturday, and is likely to take the overspill of the penalty to the Russian Grand Prix next weekend.

During practice on Friday, Maldonado enjoyed rather average sessions, finishing 17th in FP1 and 16th in FP2. However, he was pleased with how they went, and is still hopeful of a good result in spite of his penalty.

“I’m happy with today,” Maldonado said. “There were no issues with the car and the only problem I had was a vibration from my hard tires in the second session.

“Suzuka is a great circuit and I think we have quite good potential here. There’s some more pace to come and our car has looked quite reasonable.

“I will have a bigger challenge in the race as there will be a 10-place grid penalty as we’re now on to our sixth engine, but if we can race reliably then a good result is still possible.”