FIA amend qualifying format

The FIA have confirmed that they will change the qualifying format following last week’s scenes of slowing drivers on the racing line blocking competitors on their hot-lap.

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton were demoted five places on the grid after holding up Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso in qualifying.

The FIA will put in place a minimum lap time to prevent excessively low speeds as drivers seek to conserve fuel.

"Our clarification to the teams and drivers will be that cars returning to the pits having completed their flying lap or laps will be required to do so within a time that we will set," an FIA spokesman told Reuters.

"This could be approximately 120 percent of the normal time as we do to prevent drivers going very slowly on the grid (on the pre-race formation lap) to save fuel"

In Malaysia, the McLaren drivers had completed their flying lap and were driving very slowly to save fuel – an upshot of the loss of the ’fuel-burning’ element in Q3 – when Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso stormed up behind them on the racing line at speeds of 200kph.