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Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu during Belgian Grand Prix qualifying. Photo: Reuters

Formula 1: Zhou Guanyu joins 6 drivers handed tough grid penalties ahead of Belgian Grand Prix

  • Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Zhou Guanyu all handed tough grid penalties ahead of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix
  • The Chinese rookie is expected to start his race from P19, after taking on new power unit and gearbox components

Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu will start Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix from the back of the grid, after penalties hampered what would have otherwise been a solid restart to his Formula One season.

Zhou will join Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris and Mick Schumacher at the back of the grid after they all received penalties for changing a raft of components on their power units and gearboxes during the qualification laps.

As a result, Red Bull driver Sergio Perez will start a second ahead of Fernando Alonso, while Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will start fourth and fifth once they move up the grid following the penalties. Carlos Sainz Jr. is expected to start from pole.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen is among those to receive a grid penalty. Photo: AP

“Today’s qualifying was a bit unusual with so many penalties, affecting tomorrow’s grid, but we did a good job as a team and we set ourselves up in a good position,” Alfa Romeo F1 team principal Frederic Vasseur said on Saturday.

“We knew from this morning that Valtteri would start 14th no matter where he qualified, so we focused on teamwork and maximising our result.

“Our aim remains a top-10 finish. Tomorrow’s race should be quite exciting and there shouldn’t be a shortage of opportunities to take – we’ll need to be ready to make the most of them.”


Verstappen, who won at Spa last year, goes into Sunday’s race gunning for a proper win in the country of his birth. Hamilton is aiming for a sixth straight podium finish and his first win of the year. But the seven-time F1 champion sounded dejected when told of his gap to Verstappen.

For his part, Zhou said he was satisfied with his two qualification sessions.

“I am quite satisfied with how we did today, although obviously I am starting from the back tomorrow due to penalties,” Zhou said.

“It was tricky out there, we struggled a bit with the cooler weather conditions and with the balance, but we gave everything we had. Everything could happen on this track, so hopefully we can put up a good performance and gain some positions to get back into the points.”