Renault's Fernando Alonso has been penalised for hampering Ferrari's Felipe Massa in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix and the Spaniard will drop from fifth on the grid to 10th. Alonso was called to a stewards' meeting after the session and was stripped of his three best laps and subsequently loses five places.
Alonso was on an out lap and Massa on a flyer when the Ferrari was behind the Renault and stewards judged Alonso had held Massa up. Alonso maintained that there was enough space between himself and Massa but after reviewing video footage the stewards penalised Alonso, even if the hampering was unintentional.
It's a bit of an arguable decision; Alonso was not hanging about as he had very little time to reach the start/finish line and start another flying lap before the end of the session, which he did with just two seconds to spare. Certainly Massa was looming behind but did not look to be close enough to be blocked.
However, Massa claimed Alonso lost him a front row start. "Fourth place is not so bad, but it's a shame I was unable to exploit the full potential available to me," said the Brazilian after qualifying. "On Q3 on my last run, I came up behind Alonso who was also setting out on his quick lap. I lost at least three tenths!"
The penalty will increase Michael Schumacher's chances of cutting title rival Alonso's 12-point lead in the championship standings as the German will start from the front row in second. McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen pipped Schumacher to the post and took pole by two thousandths of a second from the Ferrari man.