Heikki Kovalainen has been demoted to twelfth place in the Brazilian Grand Prix after race stewards deemed McLaren had been guilty of an unsafe release during the Finn's first pit stop at Interlagos.

Kovalainen pitted at the end of the opening lap following a spin but was released from his pit box by the team with his fuel hose still attached.

As the Finn exited the pits, the fuel from the hose sprayed over Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari as he also headed back onto the track after pitting for a new nose, with a brief flash fire occurring when the fuel hit his car.

Despite admitting that he was briefly blinded and had eyes that were 'still burning' at the finish, Raikkonen was able to finish the race in sixth while Kovalainen took ninth.

After the race however, stewards added 25 seconds to Kovalainen's race time while McLaren was also hit with a fine for releasing him in an unsafe manner.

"The Stewards, having received a report from the Race Director of an unsafe release by McLaren of car 2 at 14:05 during the race met with the team manager and considered the film evidence," an FIA statement read. "The Stewards also met with the team manager of car 4 who was directly affected by the release and considered the telemetry data for car 4.

"The Stewards conclude that this was an unsafe release from the pit stop which also seriously impeded car 4, therefore a breach of Article 23.1 of the 2009 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.

"The Competitor (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) are fined $50,000 and the driver of car 2, Heikki Kovalainen is given a drive through penalty but since this is being given after the conclusion of the race 25 seconds will be added to the elapsed race time."