|© Clive Mason/Getty Images/Scuderia Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne earned himself a three-place grid penalty after he was found guilty of holding up Bruno Senna during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday.
At the final chicane in Q1, the Williams driver appeared to be comfortably on course to proceed to the next leg of qualifying when he was blocked by the rookie on his final timed lap, which slowed him down.
Consequently the frustrated Brazilian was eliminated in Q1, qualifying in 18th place while Vergne proceeded into the next stage.
“I was catching (Timo) Glock on my flying lap and I had to slow because of that,” the Frenchman reasoned. “I saw Bruno was coming very quickly and unfortunately he caught me at the chicane where there is not much room.
“But I knew I had to let him past and moved as much to the outside as I could, even though I knew I would not be in the best position to come out of the corner,” the Toro Rosso driver added. “After that, he slowed a lot and I had to pass him again on the straight, otherwise I would not have set a proper time.”
The stewards after examining the evidence ruled that Vergne was in breach of the regulations of impeding another driver and slapped a penalty of a drop of three grid positions for Sunday’s race.
Senna will gain two places as a result of the sentence, with one position courtesy of Michael Schumacher’s ten-place drop, while Vergne falls back to 19th.