Nick Heidfeld has belatedly been penalised three grid slots for blocking David Coulthard during the first phase of qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix, dropping the German to ninth.

Coulthard was fuming after he felt that Heidfeld's actions had denied him a shot at making the cut for Q2, accusing the BMW Sauber driver of 'unsportsmanlike conduct' as he was left down in 16th spot on a day when Red Bull looked reasonably competitive [see separate story - click here]. Heidfeld, meanwhile, continued to into the final phase of the hour-long session, eventually posting the seventh-fastest time.

Although it appears that Heidfeld is dropping just two places from seventh to ninth, the situation is clouded by the second Red Bull driver, Mark Webber, who lost an engine in morning practice and has to take a ten-place penalty as a result. With the Australian dropping down to 16th, Heidfeld initially moves to sixth before his three-place punishment drops him to ninth.

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The biggest gainers from the reshuffle will be Sebastian Vettel, Jarno Trulli and Sebastien Bourdais, who all gain to spots over their initial qualifying positions to go sixth, seventh and eighth, while Nelson Piquet Jr moves into the top ten as Webber passes him on the way down.

Heidfeld's team-mate - and title contender - Robert Kubica, Timo Glock, Rubens Barrichello, Nico Rosberg and Coulthard all also move up to accommodate Webber.