Sergio Perez, Zhou Guanyu pick up Austin grid drops, Ferrari expected to join

Jamie Woodhouse
Sergio Perez looks concerned. Suzuka, October 2022.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez during the rain break of the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka, October 2022.

Sergio Perez and Zhou Guanyu will drop five places on the US GP grid, with both Ferrari drivers believed to be heading the same way.

As the opening practice session got underway at the Circuit of The Americas, news began to filter through of power unit element changes which would impact the starting order for the United States Grand Prix.

Perez and Zhou have had a new Internal Combustion Engine fitted in their Red Bull and Alfa Romeo respectively, their fifth example of that component this season.

That means both drivers will be demoted five places on the grid at COTA, this the first weekend where the updated regulations for deciding a grid with penalties applied will be active.

In addition, Perez and Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen have also taken a seventh exhaust each of the season, though with eight permitted, this will not trigger a penalty.

There are rumblings in the paddock that Perez and Zhou will be joined by the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in demotion down the starting grid.

Reports ahead of the weekend claimed that Leclerc will take a sixth new power unit of the campaign, which would result in a five-place drop, though at the time it was said that Sainz would not follow the same path.

However, in Austin, Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz revealed that both Leclerc and Sainz are expected to take engine penalties at the United States Grand Prix.

Read more: The key storylines to emerge from the United States GP press conferences