Hamilton docked five places on grid

PUBLISHED: 12:50 22 March 2008 | UPDATED: 22:13 26 October 2009

Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow's Grand Prix in ninth. All pictures courtesy www.mclaren.com

Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow's Grand Prix in ninth. All pictures courtesy www.mclaren.com

LEWIS Hamilton and his McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen have been docked five grid places for impeding rivals during qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The pair were set to start tomorrow's race on the second row – but the Herts hero will now star

Hamilton: I struggled in final session

LEWIS Hamilton and his McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen have been docked five grid places for impeding rivals during qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The pair were set to start tomorrow's race on the second row - but the Herts hero will now start in ninth place, just behind his Finnish colleague.

They were summoned to face race stewards after complaints from other drivers that they were held up on their flying laps in Sepang.

Both BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld and Renault's Fernando Alonso - Hamilton's teammate last year - felt they could have gone faster if it wasn't for the McLarens, who were on their slowdown laps

Hamilton, who had been quickest in Friday's second practice session, had struggled in today's qualifying laps.

His time of 1.36.709 was good enough for fourth place, though, until the stewards stepped in.

In a statement, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team said they accepted the punishment.

Martin Whitmarsh, the team's Formula 1 chief executive, said: "We accept the stewards' decision, 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."

Speaking before the ruling was dished out, Hamilton admitted he had found the going tough.

The 23-year-old said: "There didn't seem to be as much grip in the tyres during the final session, and I just struggled a bit.

"Also it was tough finding a gap in the traffic, which had an effect on my ability to warm up the brakes and manage the tyres.

"To be honest I didn't do a perfect job today, and I will study the data to see how I can go faster tomorrow."

He added: "We have to stay positive though as we are still in a good position and anything can happen in the race."

It's an all-Ferrari front row, with Felipe Massa on pole and reigning world champion Kimi Räikkönen in second.

The race is due to start tomorrow at 7am our time.


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