McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was demoted one place to eighth at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday after being handed a 20-second drive-through penalty by stewards.
The 2008 world champion was given the penalty, two hours after finishing the race in seventh, when International Automobile Federation (FIA) stewards deemed the Briton made more than one change of direction while defending third spot from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso earlier.
The Spaniard was also docked 20 seconds for hitting Hamilton when attempting to overtake but retained his sixth-place finish.
“I knew I was going to get a penalty. I’m not surprised,” Hamilton told reporters.
“I always try to assume the worst-case scenario. It’s only one spot and it’s not really made me feel any worse than how the weekend has gone anyway.
“I’m not allowed to move more than once. Do I class it as dangerous? No, but that’s the rule. Twenty seconds is not such a bad penalty for it,” added Hamilton.
The incident ended the hopes of both drivers of a podium finish at the Sepang circuit.
Twice world champion Alonso was forced into the pits after damaging his front wing while Hamilton was overtaken by Renault’s Nick Heidfeld and Red Bull’s Mark Webber before stopping for repairs.
“Fernando hit me and got a 20-second penalty but it didn’t really do anything to him. It doesn’t exactly work out as a penalty, but again, that’s racing,” Hamilton said.
His former McLaren team mate Alonso was unconcerned after retaining his eight points from the race.
“It doesn’t change positions so there is no big drama,” Alonso said. “I finished sixth in the race anyway.
“I tried to overtake, we touched each other and unfortunately I broke the front wing and had to pit again.”
After two races Hamilton is third in the drivers’ championship standings on 22 points, level with Webber, with Alonso two points back in fifth.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel leads with a maximum of 50 points after cruising to victory at Sepang.