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Time penalty dents Alonso's Hungary hopes
Alan Baldwin | August 05, 2006 10:04 IST
Race stewards punished Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso for dangerous driving on Friday with a time penalty that severely dented his Hungarian Grand Prix hopes.
They said in a statement that the Renault driver would have two seconds added to his fastest lap in each stage of Saturday's qualifying.
Grid position is crucial at the Hungaroring, a slow and twisty circuit sometimes described as 'Monaco without the houses' where overtaking is rare.
Four of the last five winners have been from pole position.
Alonso leads Ferrari's Michael Schumacher by 11 points in the Formula One championship with six races remaining, including Sunday's.
The three stewards summoned the 25-year-old Spaniard after an incident with Red Bull's Dutch driver Robert Doornbos in the afternoon free practice session.
"Alonso having thus expressed his discontent with Doornbos then entered turn one with Doornbos following him and caused his car to slow to an unusual and unexpected degree, causing Doornbos to take avoiding action," they said in a statement.
"The stewards regard Alonso's actions as unnecessary, unacceptable and dangerous."
A one second penalty will be added to his fastest lap times in each of the three part qualifying, with another second added for overtaking under yellow warning flags at the end of the same session.
Renault ruled out an appeal.
The penalty is likely to leave Alonso struggling to make the final top 10 cut in qualifying and hands Schumacher, winner of the last three races and four times triumphant in Hungary, a hefty advantage.
Alonso had been second fastest in the afternoon session, 1.319 seconds slower than Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, last year's runaway winner at the Hungaroring, set the day's quickest lap of one minute 21.624 seconds in the morning with damp and far cooler conditions than had been expected.
However the Finn was only 25th quickest of the 27 drivers in the afternoon.
"When the Michelin tyres were new, the car felt really good and was quick," said Raikkonen. "But we struggled a little this afternoon on old tyres. We will try different tyres tomorrow to see if they are better."
Seven times champion Schumacher recorded the third best time in the morning.
Poland's Robert Kubica, usually to be seen pounding round the racetrack in Friday practice as part of his BMW Sauber third driver duties, ended the day 10th quickest.
Kubica is replacing Canada's 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who told the team on Tuesday that he had not recovered from a big crash in last weekend's German Grand Prix.
The Canadian's absence has called his Formula One future into question.
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