Both Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have been penalised on the Malaysian grid following the baulking of Nick Heidfeld at the end of qualifying. Both drivers remained on the racing line while the slowed considerably after completing their fast laps. Heidfeld, who was just starting his quick lap, was forced to weave in and out of other cars, compromising his line and ruining his lap time (videos here). The penalty for both drivers is five grid slots, demoting Hamilton to ninth and Kovalainen to eighth.
I was on my last lap, my first lap on the option tyres, which was the quickest and should have been even quicker, if not for the two McLarens driving in the middle of the racing line at 80 or less km/h, while I was doing 289. It was not really normal, and that just caused me some laptime.
I think this has cost me about two tenths of a second, which would have meant being third instead of seventh. I just couldn’t drive on the line I wanted and, even more importantly, could not brake were I wanted. Nick Heidfeld.
For me, the decision is important because of another fact – the difference in speed between Nick and two slow cars was more than 200 km/h – which was a very dangerous situation. Mario Theissen.
McLaren have said they will not appeal the decision and accept the punishment handed to them.
We accept the stewards’ decisions, but would like to add that neither Lewis nor Heikki impeded any of their competitors deliberately. It was an unfortunate incident, nothing more, nothing less. We look forward to tomorrow’s race. Martin Whitmarsh.