McLaren Handed $50,000 Fine for Pit Lane Fire

Jarno Trulli was not the only one fined by the FIA following the chaotic first lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix. McLaren Mercedes were also handed a $50,000 fine for the pit lane incident involving race driver Heikki Kovalainen.

Soon after the safety car was deployed, the Finnish driver returned to the pits for a new set of tires and refueling – as he also spun in the first lap. However, just as it happened in the Felipe Massa case during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, something went wrong with the refueling system and the Finn drove away from his garage with the fuel hose still attached to his car.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen – who had to change his entire front wing after a racing incident with Mark Webber – left his pits soon after Kovalainen, and the heat from his car triggered a fire in the pit lane. No one was hurt, eventually, as the Ferrari-an still managed to go out on the track and finish the race.

At the same time, Kovalainen parked his car at the end of the pit lane, right in front of the Brawn GP garage. Showing a great deal of fair play, the Brawn mechanics quickly detached the fuel hose from Kova's car and the Finn was able to rejoin the track only with a few seconds of delay.

In addition to the $50,000 fine, Kova was also handed a 25-second penalty at the end of the race, which eventually demoted him from 9th to 12th place overall.

Fortunately, no-one was hurt in the incident and we were quickly able to effect the back-up rig ahead of both drivers' second stops. Once we get all the video footage back to Woking, we'll perform a forensic investigation, in 'slow time', to establish exactly what happened. Until we've done that, it's impossible for us to comment on the incident with any precision,” said McLaren's team principal Martin Whitmarsh after the race.
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