Villeneuve given demotion penalty

BMW Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve will lose one place on the grid due to holding up the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella in qualifying for the European Grand Prix. Fisichella claimed Villeneuve lost him time in the last sector of a flying lap which...

BMW Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve will lose one place on the grid due to holding up the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella in qualifying for the European Grand Prix. Fisichella claimed Villeneuve lost him time in the last sector of a flying lap which cost him a place in the top 10.

Furious, Fisichella stormed down to the BMW garage to have a bit of a shout at the Canadian. Villeneuve claimed he had not blocked the Renault on purpose but Fisichella was annoyed that he did not get an apology. "I spoke to him (Villeneuve) after qualifying and he didn't say sorry," he told reporters.

"He said that he was trying to keep his tyres warm and that I was not too close. But I was so close, already from turn nine. I was showing with my arms that I wanted to get by from the middle of the circuit.

"He told the stewards that he saw me from turn eight onwards, but I know he saw me much earlier than that. He could have let me through between turns 10 and 11 and he didn't. I'm really disappointed with him."

Both drivers were called to a stewards' meeting and it was ruled that Villeneuve was guilty of hindering Fisichella, although perhaps not deliberately. The BMW driver was stripped of his fastest lap times but ultimately it only lost him one place.

Losing his best times dropped Villeneuve from eighth to 10th but due to Williams' Mark Webber, who actually qualified 10th, having a 10 place engine change demotion penalty, Villeneuve will subsequently gain a place back and will start ninth. Fisichella will still start 11th.

Meanwhile, FOM issued an apology for the erroneous red flag signal that popped up on the timing screens during the first session of qualifying. It caused some complaints from drivers who backed out of a hot lap, because the flag warning was just a technical glitch.

FOM apologised for "any inconvenience caused" which is scant compensation for those who lost out.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Mark Webber , Jacques Villeneuve
Teams Sauber , Williams