AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – New Zealander Brendon Hartley collected a grid penalty before he had even stepped into the car for his Formula One debut at the U.S. Grand Prix on Friday.
The 27-year-old, taking the place of Frenchman Pierre Gasly at Toro Rosso, took to the track for the first free practice session knowing he will have a drop of at least 25 places on Sunday due to power unit changes.
The governing FIA said Hartley, who last drove a single-seater race car in 2012, would have a new engine, motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H), energy store and control electronics.
The new components incur penalties for exceeding the season’s allocation.
Team principal Franz Tost said the decision to change the power unit components had been taken before Hartley was announced as Gasly’s temporary replacement.
The French rookie is racing in Japan, where he can win the Super Formula title this weekend.
Hartley, a Le Mans 24 Hours winner and world endurance champion, is the first New Zealand driver in Formula One for 33 years.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)