Hamilton penalty hands Maldonado pole position

Pastor Maldonado will start Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix in pole position after Lewis Hamilton was excluded from qualifying for not returning to the pits after setting his timed lap.

McLaren instructed Hamilton to stop as he had too little fuel in the car and needed to retain enough to provide a sample to the sport’s governing body for testing.

Although the regulations allow a car to be stopped on its return to the pits if needed, a shortage of fuel is not considered an acceptable reason.

As a result, the stewards ruled that Hamilton be excluded from qualifying, but would be allowed to start from the back of the grid.

A statement from the stewards reads:

“The stewards received a report from the race director which stated that during post-qualifying scrutineering a sample of fuel was required from car four, 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.

“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.”

Article 6.6.2 of the technical regulations states:

“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.”

Yes, the penalty does seem harsh but the team made the error in not fuelling the car. So to penalise the driver doesn’t seem fair but that is how the sport is governed. Break the rules and you will suffer the consequences.

It’s going to be fascinating how Lewis Hamilton will perform in the race started from the back.

5 thoughts to “Hamilton penalty hands Maldonado pole position”

  1. Despite the harsh penalty applied to Lewis Hamilton, McLaren are focusing on the race and scoring some championship points. Autosport.com has the details.

    McLaren says its focus now is on scoring as many points as possible in the Spanish Grand Prix, after accepting the stewards’ decision to demote Lewis Hamilton to the back of the grid.

    Hamilton was stripped of his pole position after the FIA ruled that he had breached the rules in not returning to the pits after completing his qualifying lap.

    The stewards who discussed the matter did not accept that a team error, which meant not enough fuel went in to Hamilton’s car prior to his final run in Q3, was grounds for force majeure.

    When asked by AUTOSPORT for a reaction to the stewards’ decision, a McLaren spokesman said: “We accept that the stewards did not agree with our interpretation of force majeure. Our aim is now to maximise the points we can score tomorrow.”

  2. Lewis Hamilton vowed to ‘race his heart out’ to try and come through from the back of the grid after being stripped of pole position for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

    The McLaren driver had taken pole by half a second, but did not have sufficient fuel in his car to get back to the pits and provide a fuel sample, as required by the regulations. He had to stop on his slowing-down lap and was later disqualified from the session, putting him to the back of the 24-car field.

    “This is such a disappointment,” said Hamilton. “Today’s qualifying session was one of the best I’ve ever driven – the whole car was just rolling so smoothly – it felt fantastic.

    “But, on my slowing-down lap, my engineers told me to stop on the track, and I didn’t know why. Later, to hear that I’d been excluded from qualifying, was of course extremely disappointing.

    “But, now, looking ahead to tomorrow, I think it’s clear that it’s going to be an incredibly tough race for us. Even so, as always, I’ll never give up and I’ll give it everything I’ve got. It would mean so much to me to get a good result here in Spain: it’s such a pleasure to come here and the support I get is amazing.

    “As I always say, and as I always do, whatever grid position I start a grand prix from, I’ll always race my heart out.”

    Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said McLaren could take some solace from the fact that it clearly had a quick enough car to make good progress in the race.

    “You won’t be surprised to hear me saying that today was a very disappointing day for all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes,” he said.

    “But, if I may start by stressing the positives, both today and yesterday our car has shown itself to be both fast and stable at this most testing of circuits, and as a result Jenson [Button] was extremely quick yesterday and Lewis extremely quick today.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  3. With Lewis Hamilton receiving his harsh penalty, Pastor Maldonado was handed pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix. The Williams are feeling optimistic it can stay at the front. Autosport.com has the story.

    Williams believes it has the pace to genuinely fight at the front of the Spanish Grand Prix – even though it concedes victory will be hard.

    Pastor Maldonado will start from pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya following Lewis Hamilton’s exclusion from qualifying.

    And with the Venezuelan having been strong throughout the Spanish weekend, chief operations engineer Mark Gillan believes that the team has the potential to keep up its good form in the race.

    “A win would be tough, but based on our race pace in practice, we’re definitely in the race,” explained Gillan, who is confident that the team’s progress in qualifying pace has not come at the expense of its race pace.

    “We’ve improved the car just generally. We’re not just going for qualifying performance. If you get the better qualifying, you’ll get the better race pace as well. To be honest, our Friday running was good. We used to be pretty confident of the Sunday pace.”

    Gillan thinks the progress that Williams has made with its FW34 is simply the result of small improvements to the car – but because the field is so tightly packed it has made a noticeable difference.

    “We brought a number of bits here, and I’d say a majority found their way onto the car,” he said. “Things are so tight, that small differences can make large differences in terms of where you finish in qualifying.”

    He also believed that the step forward in Q3 form was helped by it being able to save a new set of options for Q3.

    “Tyre usage is really the important thing,” he said. “For us, saving the new set of options for Q3 made a big difference. We haven’t had the pace in Q1 to be able to do that [so far this year], or the confidence to do that, and a lot of teams obviously run two tyres. Friday was a good step forward for us.”

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