The Red Bull and Ferrari stars are two of six drivers to be penalised for using too many engine parts, with McLaren’s Lando Norris another.
Verstappen, who leads Leclerc by 80 points in the championship, set the pace in Friday exercise, an eye-opening 0.862secs quicker than Leclerc.
Norris was third, with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in sixth.
Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin, normally outside the top 10, was a wonder fourth ahead of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari. Fernando Alonso’s Alpine, Mercedes’ George Russell, Daniel Ricciardo‘s
The other drivers with engine penalties are Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Haas’ Mick Schumacher.
What did the drivers say?
Verstappen’s pace looked hugely captivating and Leclerc certainly seemed to think it was an imposing time. When informed of it by his engineer, Leclerc said: “Oh. 45.5 is quick.”
After the session, Verstappen said: “We just looked at how we could set up the car in the best possible way and as soon as we went out the car was working pretty well.
“There are always little things you have to fine-tune with balance but basically from the first run I was happy with the car. So far it has been a good start.”
Sainz said: “I was happy and happy with the car. The end result is not looking very direction but I was very happy with the car in P1.
“We did some changes in P2 that we know they might have not gone in the right direction but if you give me back the car of P1 we can be on the pace.
“It is true that Verstappen looked very first today in P2 with the new soft.
In the long run we were closer but he seems to be on it this weekend and we are going to need to extractive the maximum out of it.”