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Maldonado handed grid penalty for Chinese GP

Lotus Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela drives during the third practice session of the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain
Lotus Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela drives during the third practice session of the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain

By Alan Baldwin

MANAMA (Reuters) - Pastor Maldonado will carry a five-place grid penalty into the Chinese Grand Prix after the Venezuelan speared his Lotus into the side of Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber in Sunday's floodlit race in Bahrain.

Gutierrez literally did not know what had hit him after the Mexican's car was flipped abruptly in the air by the impact at turn one before landing upside down on the roll bar and then righting itself.

"Wow, what was that?," he exclaimed over the car radio from the wreckage.

The incident brought out the Formula One safety car while Gutierrez appeared unhurt but was taken to the medical centre before further precautionary checks in hospital. The team later said he had been released and was fine.

Maldonado was handed a 10-second stop/go penalty during the race for causing the collision with stewards later also imposing a five-place grid drop for his next race and three penalty points.

Any driver who accrues 12 points in a 12-month period faces a race ban.

"We will need to have a look again at what happened as Esteban seemed to be off his line coming into turn one - maybe he missed his braking point, I don't know," commented the Venezuelan.

"By then I was in the corner with nowhere to go. It's difficult to understand and I was coming out from the pits and with cold tires. I think he was very unlucky and it's good he jumped straight out of the car."

Maldonado's Lotus team have yet to score any points in three races this season after finishing fourth overall last year. The Venezuelan ended up 14th in the race.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)