Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has refused to rule out potentially taking another grid penalty in the final races of the 2021 Formula 1 season.
Both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have had four power units fitted to their cars this year, resulting in starts at the back of the grid.
Verstappen’s penalty came at the Russian Grand Prix, however amid a chaotic dry-to-wet race, the Dutchman was able to recover to second at the chequered flag.
Perez swapped in his fourth unit earlier this year in Belgium, while Verstappen’s title rival Lewis Hamilton took a ten-place grid drop last time out in Turkey for a new internal combustion engine.
Verstappen currently leads Hamilton by six points in the championship with six races remaining, meaning any further penalties could have massive title ramifications.
While Horner is confident that a penalty can be avoided until the end of the year, he has not completely dismissed the possibility of another drop this season.
“I think in normal circumstances we should be able to do it with the penalty that we talk in Sochi,” Horner said.
“That gives us three engines still alive in our pool, we’re not bound to just one engine so theoretically we should hopefully be able to get to the end of the year – but never say never.”
As per the regulations, another fresh power unit element installed will result in a drop of five places rather than ten, making the consequences “not as significant” according to Horner.
“Definitely reliability is going to be a key factor obviously a second engine penalty is only five places on the grid now,” he said.
“So it’s not anywhere as significant as the first one but reliability is going to play a key role, it’s a question of making the right calls at the right time and keeping your head, keeping your nerve and doing the basics well.”