• Belgian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Maldonado demoted three places on the grid

ESPN Staff
September 1, 2012 « Qualifying proof Ferrari off the pace - Alonso | Pole wasn't possible - Raikkonen »
Pastor Maldonado originally qualified in 3rd position © Sutton Images
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Pastor Maldonado has been demoted from third to sixth place on the grid for the Belgian Grand Prix for impeding Nico Hulkenberg.

The incident occurred during the first part of qualifying, with Maldonado holding up Hulkenberg in the final chicane as he attempted to start a flying lap. The FIA's reasoning for the punishment was:

"The driver of Car 18 was warned by his team not to "hold up" Car 12 which was behind him, yet he clearly did impede Car 12. However as Car 12 continued in to Q2 a more severe penalty was not considered appropriate."

Speaking immediately after the penalty was announced, Williams' chief operations engineer Mark Gillan believed it was a harsh decision.

"When [Hulkenberg] actually got close to Pastor, Pastor was at full throttle attacking the last corner - because we're talking about the very last corner - and was as fast as he could go from where he was starting; he's getting the best exit he could for the corner for his own qualifying lap.

"I've literally just heard the decision. It's very disappointing for the team and for Pastor after such a great qualifying lap but we've got to accept it and move on. But for me it was very close.

"We take our medicine and move on; there's no point in us discussing it internally much further. We felt we managed the situation, and when you're committed to the last corner to get the right line for your qualifying lap there's very little you can do bar destroy your whole qualifying lap. Obviously if it had been two or three corners beforehand then of course it's easy to move over, but it literally was probably a tenth or two tenths of a second in the last corner that they got within proximity of each other."

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