Team AirAsia's Davide Valsecchi has been handed a ten-place grid penalty after being found guilty of transgressing safety rules in qualifying for the opening round of the 2011 GP2 Series.

The Italian was accused of driving in the opposite direction during Friday afternoon's session at Istanbul Park, and will now start from 18th rather than the eighth place his fastest lap had earned during a typically competitive half-hour.

Valsecchi's car came to a halt at turn ten halfway through the session, and was seen to be rolling backwards down the hill as his rivals streamed past. The session was immediately red flagged, although the Team Lotus F1 reserve managed to get his car restarted and returned to the pits with his rivals. Turkey has not been a good venue for the Italian, who suffered serious back injuries the first time GP2 visited in 2008. Racing Engineering's Christian Vietoris will move up to take Valsecchi's eighth position on the gird for Saturday's feature race.

"I am really disappointed because, after a strong start, we have been really unlucky," Valsecchi commented, "Unfortunately, during the session, we had a problem with the engine switching off, which resulted in me making what has been deemed a dangerous manoeuvre and being dealt a penalty. It will be difficult to start from 18th place on the grid tomorrow, but we will see. Hopefully I can get a good start and collect some points at the end of the race."



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