Lewis Hamilton has been relegated from pole to the back of the grid for failing to have enough fuel on board. Hamilton stopped his Mclaren on the back straight after his Q3 flying lap (and he was flying) so that he would have enough left to provide the required fuel sample.

The full story’s here, and elsewhere, but McLaren first claimed force majeure, saying unforeseen circumstances caused the short-fuelling. And the nub is that the stewards said “we’re not buying that.”

“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.

“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.”

So, Maldonado on a de jure pole. Not unlike Mark Webber’s asterisk-laden second at Monaco back in 2006 for Williams, but more on that elsewhere

Lewis will start at the back, all qualifying times removed from session. Which is a shame because there’s no way a few liters of fuel accounted for his half-second advantage. The McLaren was surely quickest, but rules are rules – and this one does exist due to a Hamilton precedent in Montreal.

Technical Director Paddy Lowe was quick to apologise on Twitter.

To all our fans: so sorry about this error. We are more gutted than anybody. An amazing performance by Lewis throughout Q, ruined.

McLaren still appear somewhat quiet on their interpretation of force majeure, but I heard whispers on Twitter that it was simply a matter of human error using the new slower refueling system in a hurry with seconds ticking away. If memory serves, Hamilton was last across the line, so no idea quite how close he cut it, but fairly close.

For now, I’d just seen a dry “we accept that they didn’t agree with us” type statement in public though.

Thoughts?

My first one is that no one will dare pull up on their in-lap to save fuel after the race tomorrow, as was the case more than once in 2012.

UPDATE: Here’s article 6.6.2 from F1’s 2012 Technical Regulations, no wonder McLaren’s definition of the error appeared so strangely wooly…

Competitors must ensure that a one litre sample of fuel may be taken from the car at any time during the Event.
Except in cases of force majeure (accepted as such by the stewards of the meeting), if a
sample of fuel is required after a practice session the car concerned must have first been
driven back to the pits under its own power.

What I couldn’t find was whether the stewards had any flexibility in choice of punishment. They usually do.

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F1derbar
Guest
F1derbar

Oh man, you know LH is pi**ed…

The Captain
Guest
The Captain

Bucket of popcorn…Check
Glass to capture the tears and rage of Hamilton fans…check.
Let this thread begin!

mercapeich
Member
mercapeich

Amazing!!! Thankssss>

Nathhulal
Guest
Nathhulal

Last time McLaren got away with ten grands in fine. One wonders what changed since Canada 2010 qualifying?

mark h
Guest
mark h

I believe that prompted a specific rule rewrite. Which put the FIA in a bit of a bind!

mercapeich
Member
mercapeich

They rewrite the rule after Canada thanks to Macca and LH…they received a warning and as you mention $10000 fine..so you could potentially say that the penalty is harsher because its the second time

spam
Guest
spam

Yes, I am a Hamilton fan… but it seems that he’s finally got his act together this season and now it’s McLaren dropping the ball at each race

Eric
Guest
Eric

Now I’ll have to listen to the already annoying David Hobbs whine the entire race about how his boy was done wrong.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Watch it on mute. Problem solved

robfiction
Guest
robfiction

Hell hath no fury like a Hamilton scorned.

In other opinions, where was this rule when Brabham won the title? This one is right up there with DRS.

PositiveCaster
Guest
PositiveCaster

The punishment was exceptionally harsh.Would have expected his Q3 time to be excluded and for him to start 10th but the whole thing could have been avoided by putting 3 additional liters of fuel in the tank. Totally Macca’s fault. Again.

Steven
Guest
Steven

I think it might be better for him to move to another team next year…

Hubcaps
Guest
Hubcaps

McLaren rally are doing the maximum to level the playing field any time they have an advantage this year.

You can cut things close, but when there is a rule in place as harsh as this one, you really should leave a little space for error.

Amazing that you can spend millions and millions of dollars and be caught out a single human error.

Changing_conditions
Guest
Changing_conditions

This is what BBCs Gary Anderson had to say, when he found out why Hamiltons car was under fueled. . “The fuel rig guy put the rig on, but he had the handle set to drain fuel. He discovered his mistake and switched it to put fuel in the car. But as a result he didn’t put as much fuel in it as he should have. You have to be able to drive back to the pit-lane and have one litre of fuel left for the FIA to test. He went across the start-finish line 20 seconds before the chequered… Read more »

dougF1
Guest
dougF1

Then Isn’t it a de jure pole for Maldonado?

Either way it’s force manure for Hamilton.

mark h
Guest
mark h

Couldn’t be more correct – thanks for pointing out my idiocy.

DougF1
Guest
DougF1

Mark- wasn’t pedantry but pretext for my poor humor
That followed.

mark h
Guest
mark h

Poor? But no! I chuckled heartily.

And it’s not pedantry to point out to someone that they have been a pillock, it’s helpful feedback. Feedback I receive most daily at work and have come to love – I’m so sorry if my response seemed curt or slighted.

hoffy
Guest
hoffy

Rules are rules, but the punishment? What? Is Max Mosley the guest steward this weekend?

Eric
Guest
Eric

Excellent idea, Josh. Wish Speed could get a successful driver who would offer unbiased commentary.

bigtheo
Guest
bigtheo

Some of us here absolutely love David Hobbs and his crazy old man take on the sport.
Now I’m not the biggest Hamilton fan, but I think he should at least start in front of the HRT that failed the 107% rule if he’s allowed to start.

And as for flexability of penalty, let’s not expect any consistency from F1 now. The schumacher 06 monaco incident was the same penalty, yet i’ve seen other blocking in qualifying only get like 5 place grid deductions.

montse
Guest
montse

No es justo, van a por Lewis y McLaren, un error tan pequeño no desluce una carrera tan grande. No es justo! Creo que Ferrari tiene demasiado poder
ánimo Lewis , demuestrale quien eres, no podrán contigo!

Hays33d
Guest
Hays33d

I’ve tried to dig for info on this situation in the FIA regs. I am still unable to find the “penalty” portion of this in writing. The penalty “exclusion” from the “session.” Obviously “session” means the entire session and is not broken into the 3 Qualifying rounds. The two big questions I have are: 1. Where is it written that violating article 6.6.2 is punishable by exclusion? 2. Since 6.6.2 outlines not only the “get the car to pits under its own power rule except for ‘force majeure'”, but it also outlines the amount of fuel required for testing (1… Read more »

mark h
Guest
mark h

Per question 1: Short of explicitly saying it (which was striking), the stewards’ comments on the penalty chosen implied that their hands were tied. Yet I suspect the opposite is the case.

Hays33d
Guest
Hays33d

Though the stewards do have leeway to impose various penalties on race incidents, you would think that something as black and white as this would have a set penalty. You either make it back to the pits with enough fuel or you don’t.

I would just like to see it in writing. I really hope the severity is not up to their discretion on this particular rule.

F1FanInMiami
Guest
F1FanInMiami

If they had discretion, the penalty is absurd. When you think about penalties for changing gear boxes and other violations of parc ferme (which is certainly the category of violations this would fall in), then this penalty is way out of bounds. Especially considering he set perfectly legal times in Q1 and Q2. They excluded knowingly legal times. If the rule says the penalty is exclusion from the session, then they did the right thing. If they had discretion, then a lighter penalty would seem appropriate. The purpose of a penalty should be to adequately punish the violation and prevent… Read more »

Schumi is Human
Member
Schumi is Human

Absolutely his penalty is way too harsh. A 5 grid spot penalty or exclusion from Q3 putting him into either P6 or P10 would be an appropriate penalty. IMO Lewis will gather strength from this situation and will become a better driver because everyone even fans from other teams know this is unfair. Lewis’s silence on Twitter is deafening but I’m sure that he will get strength from the situation. The Twitter messages of support for Lewis Hamilton will not have gone unnoticed. I would not be surprised if Lewis Hamilton made the podium. BTW I’m not really a Lewis… Read more »

UAN
Member
UAN

I suspect penalties for violations of the technical regulations of F1 are pretty hard and fast and not at the discretion of the stewards. – It’s too bad that F1 doesn’t publish it’s entire regulations. I did see from another series that violations of technical regulations would result in qualifying times being excluded (Chevrolet SuperCars Middle East Championship): – Post Qualifying: Should a vehicle or component be found ineligible after a Qualifying Session , but subsequently be approved before its next on-track activity, this will be reported to the Race Director who, after giving the parties the opportunity to be… Read more »

hoffy
Guest
hoffy

I am wondering whether we can parallel this to Kobi stopping after Q2 – could it be argued that he did the same thing?

But I suppose that having an hydraulic problem (was it actually leaking oil?) is covered under force majeure.

Hays33d
Guest
Hays33d

My understanding is that a hydraulic problem is covered by “force majeure”. That is considered “out of their control.”

John T
Guest
John T

I believe the penalty was fair. Each team calculates a race length amount of fuel amd now they miscalculated. They shouldve instructed Hamilton to admit the truth in the press conference not try make up lies that something went wrong. You could see in his expressions on his face he knew it was a lie. If he wouldve just manned up and admitted the truth maybe he would be in 10th.

F1 Kitteh
Guest
F1 Kitteh

The penalty is harsh but keep in mind he is a serial offender.

F1 Kitteh
Guest
F1 Kitteh

They also know that there is enough fuel for the sample if he stopped the car which means they would also have known that it wasn’t enough the moment he left the garage. Seems pretty clear the intention was to lie, even though the mistake might have been genuine.

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

You really can’t blame Hamilton for this one. It’s was just a screw-up on the part of one of the mechanics, and you can bet that one person is going to find himself out of a job for costing his team a pole.

Just out of curiosity, though, why the slow rate of refueling? I would think that the pumps work a little faster than that.

Jack Flash (Aust)
Guest
Jack Flash (Aust)

FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations 2012, in Refuelling Sub-Section 29.2 states: “No car may be refuelled, nor may fuel be removed from a car, at a rate greater than 0.8 litres
per second.”
—–
The FIA made this low refuelling flow limit a while ago to ensure that safe fuelling practices (safe flow rates) were enforced to avoid massive spill accidents.
—–
It is the same rule for everyone, so nobody is unfairly penalised comparatively…. if the teams plan refuelling time allowances properly, and don’t make fuel operation mistakes. McLaren need to work on their skillsets somewhat. JF

The Imperative Voice
Guest
The Imperative Voice

Force majeure is something out of the parties’ control including so-called Acts of God. Riots erupt in Bahrain. The car catches fire and burns every ounce of testable fuel with it. What happened with McLaren is within their control. Short fill, car lacks the required fuel for testing. Since the intent of the rule was for cars to return to the pits with the required fuel, they filled the loophole by making that a requirement too. Not returning to the pits to try and preserve the fuel is thus just as big a nono as not having the fuel anyway.… Read more »

UAN
Member
UAN

fortunately for McLaren it’s still early in the season, though they’ve clearly squandered the advantage of having the best car so far this season and 2 of the best drivers on the grid. – One thing this does do is put what Vettel and Redbull did in perspective last year. Neither Vettel or the team squandered the opportunities presented to them. Many dismiss the success they had last year and put it all down to having the best car on the grid as if that was all that was required. But as McLaren seems intent on demonstrating, and demonstrating so… Read more »

Brenda Bennewith
Guest
Brenda Bennewith

Can’t believe the severity of the penalty. Gotta wonder what is going on at McLaren and why Lewis always seems to cop the biggest penalty available. He drove an absolutely brilliant lap and yet is placed at the back of the grid. Where in the rules does it say that he must be excluded from qualifying? I can’t find it.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

…here’s the problem with F1 and something that is driving fans to despair. Sometimes it makes no sense at all – sadly – and it’s ruining our sport. How are they supposed to attract new fans to the sport when they do things like this. You have Nico Rosberg trying to run people off the road at one race receive no penalty, then a minor technical infringement receives something completely over the top! I will happily admit to being an LH, but I have followed the sport closely for many more years than LH has been in it. If the… Read more »

Jack Flash (Aust)
Guest
Jack Flash (Aust)

Exclusion from Q3 would’ve been fair enough I think, but exclusion from the whole Qualification Session in entirety is a bit over the top. I am not a LH fan specifically, but I do agree he was pretty hard done by; unless…. the FIA believe they were being lied to on purpose!!! —– If the FIA viewed the formal explanation call to them from McLaren, as “force majeure” as being willfully misrepresetnative of the true circumstances of Lewis’ underfuelling problem, then that may explain why they threw the book at McLaren/LH. One could guess if this was the FIA’s beef,… Read more »

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

Anthony, that isn’t even close to being over the top. We’ve had guys in NASCAR get penalized by going to the back of field and still somehow manage to work their way back toward the front pack. Now, if Hamilton had been disqualified from the race and/or suspended several races, then you’d have an argument. As it is, the penalty is about right, and the crew is gonna have a few practices on getting this thing down pat (minus the guy that screwed it up).

TBL
Guest
TBL

Was there a good ground for penalty – sure. Was penalty completely blown out of proportion – absolutely.

I can’t help to wonder what would happen if other driver (say Button) would be prosecuted by the spanish inquisition stewards the way Hamilton was.

I’m married into Spanish family, go there often, and it is amazing how much Hamilton is still hated over there, starting from official press down to 10 year old children!

Mike Osbourne
Guest
Mike Osbourne

I think Lewis has a problem with Mclaren..looks like a different team for him next year..every race there seems to be another team member willing to make a mistake..

It must be very frustrating..!

I agree Lewis is a serial offender..but the penalty is extremely severe..!

NBL
Guest
NBL

simple mistakes almost weekly by a team as experienced as Mclaren? I don’t think it’s out of the question to suggest this is no accident. I’m a massive F1 fan, but I find the inconsistency of the severity of penalties and the fact that certain drivers barely get a slap on the wrist for committing an offence infuriating!

Mike Osbourne
Guest
Mike Osbourne

Interesting comment about Hamilton being hated..any idea why..seems his team are his worst enemy at the moment!

Schmorbraten
Guest
Schmorbraten

What I don’t understand is why McLaren didn’t let Hamilton return to the pits and hope the FIA wouldn’t require a fuel sample? By telling him to stop, they made sure the stewards took notice, which otherwise may not have happened.

mark h
Guest
mark h

I subscribe fully to Hays33d’s logic above on that score. To paraphrase, they knew as pole-sitter that a sample would be required (I believe it always is) so decided to ensure it could be given and risk stopping short of parc ferme – claiming force majeure…

Given the pre-exisitng quandary, seems like their best bet to me. At least an outside chance of getting away with it that way.

Ron
Guest
Ron

The pole setter always has to give a fuel sample, but i’m sure that vettel had to do the same thing last year(i might be wrong about this?), but recived no penalty at all. I think that lewis is punished far harsher than other drivers, and currently its his team sticthing him up the most.

Carl walker
Guest
Carl walker

F1 are a bunch of fucked up indiviuals! Had this had been vettel there would have been an exception to the rule…I’m through watching FUCK OFF

musicmaan
Guest
musicmaan

I’m close behind you Carl, I can’t handle much more of these ridiculous rules by the FIA, and more ridiculous calls by the stewards… I’m getting close to throwing in the towel on F1 as well.

UAN
Member
UAN

Martin Brundle clarified with Charlie Whiting on Sunday that a breach of the technical regulations always results in the exclusion of the times for that session. The session is considered Qualifying Practice which is the whole of qualifying, not just Q1 or Q2 or Q3.

I don’t recall hearing much ado about the Sauber cars being excluded from points finishes in the first race of 2011 when their wing was millimeters out of spec and didn’t gain them any advantage.

Keith Dicken
Guest
Keith Dicken

A good Ref will always beat a good player. I suspect that the harshness of the penalty is more to do with Alonso on home turf than the seriousness of the incident. If you truly need an example as to how this is personal you only have to look at Shumacher’s 5 grid drop for causing an accident. 24 grids got LH well behind Alonso and little chance of catching him up. The loss of the last qualifying time would have moved him back to the third row and disqualification for Q3 would have put him back to 6th row,… Read more »