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DATE News (chronologically)
03/22/08
f1
McLaren grudgingly accepts penalties
(GMM) Members of the McLaren team on Saturday evening accepted the stewards' penalties, but insist that the five place demotions were not entirely justified.

"I was pretty much out of the way," Lewis Hamilton said at Sepang, where it has been raining almost non-stop since the end of qualifying.

The stewards found that the 23-year-old Briton impeded Nick Heidfeld, while teammate Heikki Kovalainen was pinged for holding up Fernando Alonso.

Statements from race control accused the pair of "travelling at a very slow speed on the racing line".

Referring to Heidfeld, Hamilton said: "If I held him up then I apologise for that."

McLaren F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh confirmed to reporters in Malaysia that the team will not appeal the verdict, but he thinks his drivers tried to get out of the way of the speeding cars.

"If you look at the footage, our guys squeezed in as much as they could," he said, only acknowledging that the slow moving cars would have been a 'visual' distraction to Heidfeld and Alonso.

Video footage of the incident shows both McLaren drivers on the racing line as Heidfeld passes them. After Heidfeld passes Hamilton, the Briton pulls off the racing line.

McLaren added in a written statement: "We accept the stewards' decision but would like to add that neither Lewis nor Heikki impaired any of their competitors deliberately."

Heidfeld disagreed that the McLarens did not deserve to be punished.

"If they did the best that they could do, they didn't do very well," the BMW-Sauber driver said.
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