Grid drops galore at Monza as only four drivers start where they qualified

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A combination of wet qualifying and penalties for more than one-third of the Formula 1 field has resulted in a topsy-turvy grid for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix (NBCSN, NBC Sports app from 7am ET).

With Monza being a power-hungry circuit, teams running Renault and Honda power units have opted to take penalties for fresh parts here knowing the chances of a big result were never that good, giving themselves a boost for Singapore.

The only Renault or Honda-powered driver not taking a penalty today is Daniil Kvyat, who rises from 14th in qualifying to eighth on the official starting grid.

Here’s a run-down of who has penalties and why at Monza.

Sergio Perez
Qualified: P8
Penalty: Five places for a new gearbox
Starts: P12

Max Verstappen
Qualified: P2
Penalty: 20 places for new power unit elements
Starts: P13

Nico Hulkenberg
Qualified: P12
Penalty: 10 places for new power unit elements
Starts: P14

Carlos Sainz Jr.
Qualified: P15
Penalty: 10 places for new power unit elements
Starts: P15

Daniel Ricciardo
Qualified: P3
Penalty: 20 places for new power unit elements
Starts: P16

Jolyon Palmer
Qualified: P17
Penalty: 15 places for new power unit elements
Starts: P17

Stoffel Vandoorne
Qualified: P10
Penalty: 25 places for new power unit elements
Starts: P18

Fernando Alonso
Qualified: P13
Penalty: 35 places for new power unit elements
Starts: P19

Romain Grosjean
Qualified: P20 (allowed to start despite setting no time in Q1)
Penalty: Five places for a new gearbox
Starts: P20

Propping up the grid is Romain Grosjean, who received dispensation to race from the stewards at Monza as he failed to set a time in Q1, and therefore did not qualify.

In short, only four drivers will start where they qualified: Lewis Hamilton, Sainz, Palmer and Grosjean.

2017 Italian Grand Prix – Starting Grid

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Lance Stroll Williams
3. Esteban Ocon Force India
4. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
6. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
7. Felipe Massa Williams
8. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
9. Kevin Magnussen Haas
10. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
11. Pascal Wehrlein Sauber
12. Sergio Perez Force India*
13. Max Verstappen Red Bull*
14. Nico Hulkenberg Renault*
15. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso*
16. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull*
17. Jolyon Palmer Renault*
18. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren*
19. Fernando Alonso McLaren*
20. Romain Grosjean Haas**

* After grid penalties applied
** Permitted to start by the stewards after failing to qualify

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.