Pastor Maldonado will start from pole position of the Spanish Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton was excluded from qualifying for not returning to the pits after setting his best lap.
Hamilton’s McLaren was found to not have had sufficient amounts of fuel on board to comply with the rules that demand a car returns to the pits under its own power after qualifying with enough petrol for a one-litre sample to be provided to the FIA.
There is a rule which allows for circumstances of “force majeure” where drivers are allowed to stop on that slowing down lap, however stopping deliberately because there is not enough fuel to finish the lap so you can supply that sample is not acceptable. The rule was originally created after an incident involving Hamilton in Canada in 2010.
Following a meeting with the stewards at the Spanish Grand Prix, McLaren was informed that the ‘technical’ problem that it suggested was the reason for Hamilton being told to stop was not deemed “force majeure” and that they did not therefore have grounds to justify their action. The team explained that not enough fuel had been put into the car ahead of the final qualifying lap – which the FIA did not agree was enough reason for ‘force majeure’
Due to this, the stewards ruled that Hamilton had to be excluded from qualifying, but would be allowed to start from the back of the grid.
“The stewards received a report from the Race Director which stated that during post-qualifying scrutineering a sample of fuel was required from car 4, however, the car failed to return to the pits under its own power as required under Article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations,” said the stewards in a statement as reported via Autosport.com.
The stewards went on to also state: “The Stewards heard from the team representative Mr Sam Michael who stated that the car stopped on the circuit for reasons of force majeure. A team member had put an insufficient quantity of fuel into the car thereby resulting in the car having to be stopped on the circuit in order to be able to provide the required amount for sampling purposes.
“As the amount of fuel put into the car is under the complete control of the Competitor the Stewards cannot accept this as a case of force majeure.”
“The Stewards determine that this is a breach of Article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations and the Competitor is accordingly excluded from the results of the Qualifying Session. The Competitor is however allowed to start the race from the back of the grid.”
With what was already a dramatic qualifying session; the result means that Maldonado will now start from Pole Position with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso in second for Sunday’s race.
The revised Spanish GP grid looks like this:
1. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault
4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault
5. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
7. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes
9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
11. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault