4 Oct 2009

Title contenders handed five-place grid penalty

6:59 am on 4 October 2009

The battle for the 2009 Formula One world championship was thrown up in the air after six drivers were each handed a five-place grid penalty after qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

As a result, motorsport's world ruling body the FIA won't announce the definitive starting grid for today's race until an hour before the starting flag.

Five drivers, including championship leading Briton Jenson Button and his Brawn GP team-mate Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, were initially penalised for not slowing down while yellow flags for caution were shown during the qualifying session after a crash involving German Timo Glock.

The others demoted by the FIA were Renault driver Fernando Alonso, the two-time world champion from Spain, German Adrian Sutil, Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi of Force India and Swiss Sebastien Buemi of Toro Rosso.

Germany's Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull has kept his title hopes alive with pole position as it stands right now.