McLaren took issue with Hungarian Grand Prix stewards on Sunday after Fernando Alonso was stripped of his pole position in favour of rookie team mate Lewis Hamilton.
The double world champion was demoted to sixth on the starting grid for impeding the Briton, two points clear of the Spaniard at the top of the standings, in the pits at the end of Saturday's qualifying.
The stewards also ruled that McLaren must forfeit any constructors' points won at the Hungaroring because they had acted in a way prejudicial to the interests of the sport.
McLaren, 27 points clear of Ferrari with seven races remaining, have appealed against their penalty.
"We do not believe that the findings of the stewards and the severe penalty imposed on the team are appropriate, and that our strenuous efforts to maintain the spirit of fair play and equality within the team have been misunderstood," McLaren said in a statement.
The three stewards, in a two page judgement late on Saturday, questioned McLaren's version of events.
"The team stated... that the reason (Alonso's) car was in fact held for 20 seconds was that it was being counted down prior to release at a beneficial time regard being given to other cars on the track," the stewards said.
"Reference to the circuit map shows that at the time Alonso was told he would be held for 20 seconds there were but four cars on the circuit," it added.
"All but (Ferrari's Kimi) Raikkonen entered the pits such that there can have been no necessity to keep Alonso in the pits for 20 seconds waiting for a convenient gap in traffic in which to leave."
McLaren said there being just four cars on the circuit at the time was of no consequence.
"We do not understand the relevance of this observation as the team needed to estimate where all the remaining cars would be in the final minutes of the session," they said.
"Similarly the team does not agree with the statement of the stewards that the 20 second hold caused Lewis to be impeded.
"Tensions were undeniably high and the problem at Fernando's first stop, the desire to enter a clear track and concerns expressed following the fitting of used tyres undoubtedly contributed to the delay in Fernando's ultimate departure."
McLaren are fighting on all fronts in a bitter championship battle with Ferrari that has been overshadowed by accusations of spying against the British-based team.
"Every effort was made yesterday by the team to maintain our policy of equality," the team said.
"However in the heat of battle there are occasions when the competitive nature of drivers sees them deviate from the agreed procedures."