All of Esteban Gutierrez' hard work in qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas has been undone as a result of the moment early in Q1 when he was seen to impede Pastor Maldonado who was on a flying lap.

The incident came just four minutes into the first part of qualifying for the United States GP, with Gutierrez busy trying to get his tyres up to temperature leaving him oblivious to the fast-approaching Williams coming up behind him heading into the final corner.

Not only did Gutierrez wreck Maldonado's first flying lap attempt result, the Venezuelan was forced to take to the extreme inside line to avoid a collision because of the way that Gutierrez was weaving, around apparently unmindful of other cars on the track. This was deemed especially serious by the race stewards, who decided to impose a heavy ten-place starting grid penalty on the Mexican driver.

"Car 12 unnecessarily impeded car 16 [Maldonado] between turns 19 and 20 whilst performing manoeuvres that the Stewards consider dangerous," stated the race officials' decision.

The penalty means that Gutierrez loses his hard-fought for tenth place on the grid and plunges him back to 20th place for the start of Sunday's race in Austin, Texas.

Also penalised by the race stewards is Marussia's Max Chilton, who was involved in not one but two incidents of impeding the qualifying laps of other drivers - the first resulting in yet another wasted effort for Pastor Maldonado, and the second seeing Adrian Sutil held up. Both incidents took place between the final two corners of the track, and both Maldonado and Sutil ended up failing to make the cut at the end of Q1 as a result of missing out on the chance to set a representative time.

Because of the double nature of the offence, and bearing in mind that Chilton was already due to start on the back row for Sunday's race and that therefore a starting grid penalty would have been effectively meaningless, the stewards decided instead to review Chilton to serve instead a drive-thru penalty within the first five laps of the race.

It's only the second time that this penalty has been employed. Charles Pic was given the same punishment at the Japanese Grand Prix last month, after having been found to have exited pit lane despite a red light being shown.

Pic himself has already been handed a five-place grid drop for this weekend's United States Grand Prix after Caterham needed to break the seals on his gearbox on Saturday morning.

Also hit by a grid penalty for Sunday's race is Jenson Button, who will take a three-place drop for overtaking under red flags in Friday's morning practice session which will see him start from 15th place.

See latest starting grid positions for the United States Grand Prix.


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