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Vergne penalised three places for impeding Senna

Jean-Eric Vergne has been handed a grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix, putting him into the company of Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher for Sunday's race.
Jean-Eric Vergne has been handed a three-place grid penalty for the start of the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka on Sunday.

The Toro Rosso driver was judged to have impeded the Williams of Bruno Senna near the end of Q1, despite the Frenchman's explanation that he had himself had to back off because of a slower car up ahead, and claiming that the incident had also affected his own flying lap.

The race stewards heard from the driver and team representative and examined video evidence before finding Vergne to have impeded Senna at turn 16, a breach of Article 31.7 of the FIA F1 Sporting Regulations unusable by a three-place grid penalty.

That puts Vergne in some big name company, as McLaren's Jenson Button and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg also get grid demotions for Sunday after the teams had to change their gearboxes ahead of this weekend's Grand Prix.

And Michael Schumacher has to serve a ten-place grid penalty at Suzuka incurred for his accident at Singapore two weeks ago were ironically it was Vergne on the receiving end of Schumacher braking too late and crashing into the rear of his car.

In addition, Marussia Racing's Charles Pic was earlier reprimanded for a near miss with Lewis Hamilton at the chicane during Saturday morning's Free Practice 3. The team was also fined 5,000 euros for not advising Pic of Hamilton's approach on a flying lap. Pic has already been ordered to complete one day's community service for the FIA after passing a car under red flags in third practice for Singapore GP

The stewards are also currently reviewing an incident late in Q3 in which polesitter Sebastian Vettel potentially blocked Fernando Alonso.

However, it's looking more optimistic for Kamui Kobayashi, after Sauber said that telemetry showed that the Japanese driver did not set a fastest time through the specific part of S2 where Kimi Raikkonen's car was temporarily stuck in the gravel trap at the exit of Spoon after spinning off.

Kobayashi went on to set the fourth fastest time of Q3 which will put him in third place on the starting grid for Sunday's race after Button's gearbox penalty is applied, unless Kobayashi himself falls foul of the stewards' adjudication in the meantime.

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