• Australian Grand Prix

Kovalainen hit with Sepang penalty

ESPNF1 Staff
March 18, 2012 « Schumacher explains retirement cause | Lotus capable of more - Raikkonen »
Heikki Kovalainen retired with a left front suspension problem © Sutton Images

Heikki Kovalainen has been handed a five-place grid penalty for next week's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

Kovalainen has been penalised for an incident which occurred during the safety car period during today's Australian Grand Prix. At the end of the first lap behind the safety car Kovalainen pitted, but in doing so he overtook another car before reaching the safety car line at the beginning of the pit lane. That contravenes a rule stating no car can overtake behind the safety car, or before the safety car line when it is returning to the pits.

As a result of his error the stewards have decided that Kovalainen should take a five-place grid penalty after qualifying at the next race in Malaysia, and he admitted he felt the punishment was excessive.

Writing on Twitter, Kovalainen said: "Tough day today, nevermind one of those races that happen sometimes, bit harsh penalty from stewards for the next race but that's life too!"