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Hamilton, Kovalainen lose five places
March 22, 2008 18:46 IST
McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton [Images] will start Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix eighth and ninth respectively after collecting five place penalties for impeding rivals in qualifying.
A McLaren spokesman confirmed the penalty, which came after the stewards had deliberated for several hours at the Sepang circuit, and said McLaren would not appeal.
Heidfeld, who moves up from seventh to fifth, and Alonso, now eighth, both said they were held up at the end of the third and final session.
They were still on quick laps while others were slowing down to save fuel.
"In Q3 most of the cars were already very, very slow when I was on my flying lap, just like (they were) parked on the circuit," Heidfeld told ITV television after qualifying.
"The biggest fault was both of the McLarens in front of turn four, being in the middle of the racing line and I could not be on the line I wanted, especially for braking.
"I lost some time there and if you look at the times, they were very, very close. I think I lost two tenths which would be third place," added the German, who was second in last weekend's Australian season-opener.
Kovalainen had qualified third with Hamilton, the championship leader after winning in Melbourne, fourth in a session completed before rain fell.
Alonso, the double world champion who drove for McLaren last year but fell out with management and Hamilton before returning to Renault, spoke to stewards before the McLaren drivers were heard.
"I could have done better in Q3 this afternoon as I was with Heidfeld on a fast lap while the others were going slowly, and that affected me a bit, which is a shame," he said in a team review of qualifying.
McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said there had been no deliberate intent to hold anyone up.
"Neither of our drivers did it intentionally. They did all they could to squeeze over to allow Nick and Fernando to do their quick laps," he said.
"We informed our drivers that there were people trying to do their flying laps. There was congestion at one part of the circuit with six cars trying to go into one corner.
"I don't think we impaired Nick but I can understand visually if you have got all of those cars and you are trying to do a quick lap it is not something you are going to be comfortable or happy with."
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