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Horner: F1 needs grid penalty rethink

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner has called for a rethink of F1's engine penalty rules after nine of the 20 drivers taking part in the Italian Grand Prix were hit with grid drops on Sunday.

Under the current regulations, each car is allowed to use four full power units per season before it starts incurring penalties. The power unit itself is divided into six individual elements -- internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H, MGU-K, energy store and control electronics -- all of which can result in a grid drop if a driver exceeds a tally of four for the year.

The rules are in place to help keep costs under control, but drivers using Honda and Renault engines have routinely been hit with penalties in the second half of the season. At Monza on Sunday, both Red Bull drivers took engine penalties and seven others also dropped down the grid due to power unit or gearbox issues.

"It is hard enough for us to get our heads around, [let alone fans]," Horner said. "Even going to the grid we were trying to work out if we were going to be 12th or 13th, because [Sergio] Perez had picked up a penalty but he had picked it up before or after somebody. It is too confusing. It needs a serious look at to see whether there is a better way of penalising a manufacturer or an entrant as opposed to messing around with the grid. It will only get worse and it will be a shame to see this championship decided on grid penalties."

Next year drivers are due to be limited to three power units per season and Horner says that will only make the situation worse.

"This engine has done nothing positive for F1 since it was introduced. What concerns me is that we are going to three engines for next year with more races. To me that should be number one on the agenda at the next strategy meeting. I tried to get it changed at a meeting earlier in the year but there was no support. I would hope that would now be different with teams incurring and staring down the barrel of future penalties between now and the end of the year."

Substituting grid penalties for financial penalties has been suggested but is only likely to harm small teams and give large teams the option to buy extra power units as and when they need them. Points penalties in the constructors' championship could also be used as a deterrent, but may have the same effect as F1's most successful teams splurge excess points on new power units at the end of the year.

"Obviously the penalty needs to be a significant deterrent because the whole purpose of this limitation of engines was also cost savings," Horner added. "But it is not saving the costs because the engines are going on a world tour anyway. They are being used, and you are just incurring penalties as a result. So perhaps we need to get back to a more equitable balance, maybe five engines is the right number rather than four going to three."