Force India's Adrian Sutil has been hit with a reprimand and fined $20,000 for colliding with Nick Heidfeld at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Sutil was engaged in a frustrating battle with Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari when he spun on lap 20. His attempt to get back on the track saw him drive into the path of his compatriot Heidfeld, immediately ending the BMW Sauber driver's race and his own a few laps later.
Sutil apologised after the race but maintained it was a racing incident.
“It was quite frustrating at the start as we knew with the one stop we were very heavy, but Alguersuari was very slow and really fighting with the car,” he said. “He was holding me up a lot and I tried a few times to pass him but I finally saw a chance. I tried and it wasn't enough - I was a little late on the brakes, spun and that's it. Then Nick came around the corner and hit my front wing as I was stuck in the corner. I didn't see him coming as I was on the move already and couldn't react to it, but I'm sorry for it. It was a race incident.”
Team Prinicipal Vijay Mallaya also agreed with his driver's assertion that it was nothing more than an unfortunate on-track episode.
“Adrian tried to make up places but it just didn't work out for him,” he said. “But it was a racing incident and these things happen when you are pushing hard.”
Sutil's team-mate Tonio Liuzzi had a better day, taking the chequered flag for the first time as a Force India driver. However, the Italian highlighted how tough it had been for the team and said they were looking forward to the rest of the season.
“It has been an ultra difficult weekend and race for us,” he said. “The conditions are very difficult from the beginning as we were starting on the last row and trying to get some points was always going to be tough.
“Having two cars with KERS in front of me didn't help. I couldn't overtake Fisichella even though I was quicker on my first two stints. On the third stint we started to have a lot of graining with the rear tyres with the soft compound and I just couldn't catch him. In the end it was a difficult race but we are more optimistic for the next races.”