SAO PAULO, Nov 24, 2012 (AFP) - Pastor Maldonado was on Saturday given a 10-places grid penalty at the Brazilian Grand Prix after missing the weighbridge during qualifying, handing a surprise boost to title-chasing Fernando Alonso.
The Williams driver was issued with a reprimand for the offence, but because it is his third this season, he was also given a grid demotion.
He had qualified sixth prior to the punishment and will now drop to 16th on the grid.
His demotion means Alonso of Ferrari, the only man who can prevent Sebastian Vettel from winning a third successive world title on Sunday, will start from seventh on the grid and not eighth.
Maldonado's previous warnings were for blocking Heikki Kovalainen of Caterham in Chinese Grand Prix qualifying and colliding with Sergio Perez of Sauber at the British Grand Prix.
This year, he has also been given grid demotions for driving incidents in Monaco, Belgium, Italy and Belgium.