A furious David Coulthard has accused Nick Heidfeld of “unsportsmanlike behaviour” after seeing his Chinese Grand Prix qualifying hopes wrecked.
Coulthard will start from 15th on the grid in his Red Bull, with the Scot elevated a place as team-mate Mark Webber drops from sixth to 16th due to a penalty for an engine change.
The veteran Scot, in the penultimate race of his 15-season Formula One career before he steps into retirement, missed out on a place in Q2 by just 0.091seconds, time easily lost by Heidfeld’s actions.
Coulthard has asked his team to launch a protest against Heidfeld, although it is unlikely any action will be taken against the BMW Sauber driver.
Nevertheless, an unhappy Coulthard said: “I’m extremely disappointed with what Heidfeld did at the end of Q1 on the last out lap.
“All the cars were bunching up on the second to last corner as they jostled for position, but Nick suddenly passed me on the inside into the last corner, just as I was about to start my flying lap.
“It was very unlikely he was going to do a better lap on prime tyres and he was on the dirty side of the track.
“He wouldn’t have done a faster lap by squeezing through the inside at that point – and he came in before the end of that lap anyway!
“He would have known he was in the top 10 already, so for me it was very unsportsmanlike behaviour.
“All he did was screw up my last flying lap. There wasn’t any intention of him doing a quicker time.”
The incident leaves Red Bull staring at two of their worst grid positions of the season.