Fernando Alonso insisted Formula 1 rules state drivers must lift off when they see a yellow flag on track after several men improved their lap times when the yellow was out during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The FIA is believed to have summoned six drivers, including Alonso, to analyse their actions in the dying moments of the second qualifying segment, when Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi had crashed, leaving lots of debris – including a front wing – on the straight.
Championship leader Jenson Button was one of the drivers who set his best time with the yellows on track.
Alonso, who qualified in 12th, told Spanish television after qualifying that he was expecting to gain a few places due to penalties. "I'm sure tomorrow I'll start a lot higher than 12th," he said.
Speaking to reporters later, the Spaniard admitted he had lifted off when he saw the yellow flag.
"It was a strange qualifying with many incidents and at the end of Q2 also with the yellow flag and a front wing in the middle of the track," said Alonso. "We had been through that mostly all cars.
"I avoided the front wing in the middle of the track and I lifted and I came into the pits and we didn't make it to Q3. I think some people improved their laps, but that's the way it is."
He added: "As soon as you see the yellow flag you have to lift off, and you have to be cautious because you don't know what's going to happen 20 meters later, maybe there's a front wing or two cars blocking the track. You have to lift off. We'll see.
"I don't know what the other people did. I only know what I did, that was lifting off quite late unfortunately but it's when I saw the yellow flag."
The Renault driver went to see the stewards right after qualifying, but only to explain why he had overtaken Buemi.
"I was there because I overtook Buemi, because after the crash he was running slowly. You cannot overtake under the yellow flag so I was explaining what I felt there and my impression of the moment and how far you lift off.
"It was a little bit late from myself, but to be honest I lifted when I saw the yellow flag. Maybe it's late, but hopefully it's OK."