Vettel DQ’d in Abu Dhabi qualifying, Alonso’s luck has turned

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has ran afoul of the pesky FIA regulation that requires a car to return to the pits under its own power and posses at least 1 liter of fuel for FIA testing. After stopping on circuit immediately after his 3rd-place qualifying lap, the race stewards met for an extended period of time to determine all of the details. After hearing all the information, the stewards decided that Vettel stopped on circuit and had less than one liter of fuel and therefore will be disqualified from the session. This means the German must start from the back of the grid for Sunday’s race.

For Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, this is the best news he’s heard in several races. Trailing the resurgent Vettel by 13 points, Alonso suffered a mediocre qualifying performance to start the race from 7th and knowing that he may be able to claw back points on Vettel will keep the Scuderia on their toes for a clean start and good race pace to secure those points. Ferrari’s qualifying has been the bane of their season but their race pace is significantly better and Alonso could make hay with Vettel’s situation.

Vettel himself is a benefactor of two recent DNF’s for Alonso so attrition, as we all know, is a part of Formula One. Today’s announcement was most certainly measured as it impacts the world championship and while Twitter was abuzz with criticism for the FIA’s lengthy delay, I’m unclear as to why journalists in the paddock would be quick to pile on as they, more than many, know the implications and absolute need to measure twice and cut once. Better to get all the information correct, measure the implications and announce the decision than to miss a critical element that would cause serious implications to the championship.

Here is the full Stewards decision:

The Stewards received a report from the Race Director that car 1 failed to return to the pits under its
own power as required under Article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations.

The Stewards heard from the driver and team representatives and studied telemetry evidence that
showed the reason why the car was stopped.

The Stewards accepted the explanation and considered the incident as being a case of force majeure.
However a report was received from the Technical Delegate that showed during post-qualifying
scrutineering an insufficient quantity of fuel for sampling purposes.

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.

In essence, there was a force majeure situation but the post-qualifying technical inspection showed that there was not enough fuel and the disqualification was due to this fact. The Mystery of the Force Majeure was negated by the lack of fuel. This all make the inaugural race in Austin Texas a gripping occasion indeed.

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