David Coulthard launched a stinging attack on Nick Heidfeld at the end of qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai this weekend, after what he described as 'unsportsmanlike behaviour' from the German left him just 15th on the starting grid for his penultimate grand prix.

The experienced Scot - who is set to bring the curtain down on his successful 15-year career in the top flight at Interlagos in Brazil in a fortnight's time - was endeavouring to get himself into Q2 towards the end of the opening part of qualifying when the incident occurred.

After being held up by Heidfeld, however - who he suggested never had 'any intention of doing a quicker time' - the 37-year-old ultimately missed the cut by just under a tenth of a second, and was left fuming with his BMW-Sauber rival.

"I'm extremely disappointed with what Nick Heidfeld did at the end of Q1 on the last 'out' lap," Coulthard lambasted. "All the cars were bunching up in the second-to-last corner as they jostled for position, but Nick suddenly passed me on the inside into the last corner, just as I was about to start my flying lap.

"It was very unlikely he was going to do a better lap on prime tyres and he was on the dirty side of the track, so he wouldn't have done a faster lap by squeezing through the inside at that point - and he came in before the end of that lap anyway!

"He would have known he was in the top ten already, so for me it was very unsportsmanlike behaviour, as all he did was screw up my last flying lap - there wasn't any intention of him doing a quicker time."

To rub salt into the wounds for Red Bull Racing - which had shown well during practice around the Shanghai International Circuit - the sister RB4 of Mark Webber will be forced to begin the race from alongside Coulthard on the grid in 16th position, after the luckless Australian picked up a ten-place demotion from his sixth-fastest time as a result of an engine failure in FP3.

"Unfortunately a penalty for an engine change drops you five rows back," the 31-year-old lamented, "and it's difficult enough anyway these days with the field being so tight.

"In Fuji I would have had a chance to make up some places during the race, as it's easier to pass there, but there are some really quick corners here making it more difficult. Let's hope for some rain tomorrow."

There was understandable frustration and disappointment in the energy drinks-backed squad's garages after the session was over - amidst the knowledge that sixth spot in the constructors' title chase, currently held by 'junior' outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso, is slipping ever further out-of-reach as the end of the season nears.

"Despite losing track time with an engine failure in this morning's practice, Mark did a good job to finish P6 in today's qualifying session," affirmed RBR team principal Christian Horner. "Unfortunately he takes a grid penalty tomorrow due to the engine failure and subsequent engine change, but it was a good lap from him.

"David had the pace to go through to Q2, but an incident with Heidfeld cost him time on his last run and, with the circuit improving, unfortunately he just missed the cut."

"We are very sorry for Mark and apologise to him for the engine failure," added Renault principal track support engineer Fabrice Lom. "It's a shame as he had good pace today and easily got through into Q3 to finish P6. David was blocked during Q1, so wasn't able to show his real pace. It wasn't a good day; I hope Sunday will be better."

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