Five drivers, including championship leader Jenson Button, were handed a five-place grid penalty after qualifying for the Japanese GP.
F1 championship thrown up in the air
The battle for the 2009 Formula One world championship was thrown up in the air today after five drivers were each handed a five-place grid penalty after qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix. The five, including championship leading Jenson Button and his Brawn GP teammate Rubens Barrichello, were penalised for not slowing down while yellow flags for caution were shown during the qualifying session. The others demoted were Renault driver Fernando Alonso, the two-time world champion from Spain, Adrian Sutil of Force India and Sebastien Buemi of Toro Rosso. Button had qualified in seventh, Barrichello in fifth, Alonso in 12th, Sutil in fourth and Buemi in 10th. All were given five-place penalties, the first four for not lifting off during yellow flags and Buemi for driving back to the pits in his damaged car after the accident that caused the yellows. On top of these penalties, it is understood that Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren and Tonio Liuzzi of Force India were also given five-place penalties for gearbox changes. The final grid positions were further muddled by uncertainty over Toyota's Timo Glock, who crashed heavily and was taken to hospital. If he does start, it will be from the pit lane since he will need a new chassis. A spokeswoman for the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said the grid would not be published before Sunday. With three races remaining, including Japan, in the 17-leg world championship Button tops the drivers' standings on 84 points with Barrichello second on 69 and Sebastian Vettel of Germany, in a Red Bull, third on 59.