Lando Norris drops down Belgium grid after McLaren replace smashed gearbox
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SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium - Lando Norris will start the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday with a five-place grid penalty because his McLaren team had to replace the gearbox in his crashed car.
The Briton was involved in a ferocious crash in treacherous wet conditions during qualifying on Saturday, his car spinning from one side of the track to the other after the rear end hit the barriers at Eau Rouge.
The team said they had no choice but to incur the punishment.
"After assessing the damage to Lando's car, we have decided to change the gearbox, resulting in a five-place grid penalty," a McLaren spokesman told F1.com.
The 21-year-old Englishman, who is third in the driver standings, went for medical checks on Saturday and was finally given the green light to drive.
The penalty drops Norris down to 14th on the grid.
"Having failed to set a time in Q3 he was classified 10th," the Formula One site explained. "But was moved up to ninth as Valtteri Bottas, who qualified eighth, already had a five-place grid penalty to serve in Belgium."
After the crash Norris, 21, was able to climb out of his car unhurt but stunned, holding his left elbow.
"I think just a bit bruised," he said on Saturday evening. "Obviously, it was quite a big impact and I think my body's just been thrown around a little bit but I'm good. I'm ready to race tomorrow and I want to get back on track already because it didn’t end the way I wanted it to."
While Norris's hope of a first ever pole were dashed McLaren at least had the satisfaction in seeing Daniel Ricciardo in their other car grab a second row spot after finishing fourth in qualifying headed by Max Verstappen's Red Bull from the Williams of George Russell, with Lewis Hamilton in third.