Sébastien Bourdais has been demoted five grid positions for being deemed to have impeded BMW-Sauber rival Nick Heidfeld during the opening phase of qualifying in Budapest for this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Heidfeld came up behind the Frenchman on his final Q1 effort, and was seen shaking his hand vigorously at the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver as the pair crossed the start-finish line at the end of the lap – one that left the German out in the cold in the Q3 drop zone in 16th place.
Though Bourdais subsequently progressed into Q2 and went on to ultimately line up 14th, he will now have to begin the race – around one of the most difficult circuits on the Formula 1 calendar at which to overtake – five spots lower in 19th, following a stewards' enquiry into the incident.
“I'm totally disappointed, an angry Heidfeld reflected after qualifying. “It had looked quite good at the end of yesterday's practice and also this morning, but on my last lap in Q1 I had four cars in my way. Most of them at least tried to give me room, but it still cost me time.
“Towards the end of the lap I had one car in front which was on an 'out' lap. He saw me and accelerated. He then overtook Sébastien Bourdais before the last corner, and then Sébastien was right in my way. I was hoping it was so obvious he would be penalised right away and I could still get into Q2.”
“Certainly Nick's result is disappointing,” agreed BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen. “He complained several times about traffic on his last – and important – fast lap and missed getting into Q2. We should be very happy if he scores a point from this grid position.”
“For Nick it didn't go as expected,” added the Munich and Hinwil-based concern's technical director Willy Rampf. “He reported traffic on his last lap. For him we are facing a very difficult race tomorrow, because overtaking is almost impossible at the Hungaroring.”
Bourdais, for his part, was phlegmatic about his performance, having now been out-qualified by STR team-mate Sebastian Vettel for the seventh time in eleven grands prix in 2008 – and for the fourth time in succession.
“I struggled with the option tyre as it gave me no grip,” the multiple Champ Car king related. “I was sliding around more and had no feel for the car.
“I was very happy in a well-balanced car earlier on, but after that I'm not really sure what happened. I am disappointed, because even if Q3 would have been hard to reach, I could not match my Q1 time in Q2.”