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McLaren drivers under investigation

NEWS STORY
22/03/2008

As widely expected, McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have been summoned by the Race Stewards at Sepang, following complaints from Nick Heidfeld (BMW) and Fernando Alonso (Renault) that their final flying laps were spoiled by the Woking duo as they 'coasted' back to the pits on their in laps.

"I'm very disappointed," said Heidfeld. "The first corners of my last lap went smoothly, but then there were several cars driving very slowly on their in-laps. Apparently they had no information that the qualifying was still going on.

"Before turn four I lost a lot of time because both McLarens were cruising on the racing line," he added. "I think this has cost me about two tenths of a second, which would have meant being third instead of seventh. I just couldn't drive on the line I wanted and, even more importantly, could not brake were I wanted."

Alonso was a little less angry: "I was with Heidfeld on a fast lap while the others were going slowly, and that affected me a bit," said the Spaniard.

Due to the threat of rain, the McLaren drivers, like many others, went out early, which meant they effectively finished their sessions before Alonso and Heidfeld, who were amongst the last to go out.

Should the Stewards decide that the McLaren drivers did compromise their rivals both could face grid penalties, as was the case at Monza in 2006 when Alonso was adjudged to have impeded Felipe Massa.

In many respects, today's case would appear to be even more clear cut than what happened at Monza.

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