Nico Hulkenberg has been demoted three positions on the grid for the Chinese Grand Prix as punishment for his Force India team releasing him to track in an unsafe manner after his front-wheel came loose.

The German was looking to protect his provisional Q3 position when the front-left wheel of his VJM09 worked clear as he was exit turn 10 and forced him to a halt.

With the wheel bouncing beyond the car, but staying off track, the subsequent red flag would bring an end to Q2 early, keeping Hulkenberg in the top ten but unable to participate in Q3.

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However, as expected, Hulkenberg has been demoted three positions as penalty for Force India 'releasing the car in an unsafe condition', allowing Felipe Massa up to tenth, Fernando Alonso into 11th and Jenson Button to 12th.

"The wheel just came off," he said. "Usually there is a bit of vibration going on and you can tell something is not right but this one was very sudden and it came off. One minute it was on and the next minute it was off."