Hamilton stripped of pole

2012-05-12 20:03

Barcelona - Lewis Hamilton's spectacular but often controversial career suffered a new twist on Saturday when he was stripped of pole for the Spanish Grand Prix because his McLaren team failed to give him enough fuel.

As a result, Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Williams will start from pole position for the first time after being promoted from second on the grid while Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, will start from the back.

The 27-year-old Briton was excluded from the qualifying results because he did not return to the pits with his McLaren car after setting his fastest lap.

Instead, he followed urgent orders transmitted by the team and stopped out on the track. He required assistance to return to the pits where a one litre fuel sample was to be taken.

A stewards meeting later decided that this was in breach of the regulations and excluded Hamilton, dismissing his team's argument that this had happened under circumstances of ‘force majeure'.

"The stewards heard from the team representative Sam Michael who stated that the car stopped on the circuit for reasons of force majeure," said a stewards statement.

"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."

McLaren accepted the decision.

"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," said a team spokesman.

Maldonado will start at the front of the grid ahead of local hero, two-time champion Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari.

Prior to being told of his punishment, Hamilton had said that even if he was penalised for the team's misdemeanour he believed he could produce a competitive race performance.

"I think our long runs were not too bad," he said.

"The option tyre was not spectacular with the set-up we had, but we have made some changes so it should be better in that sense. The long run on the prime was very good, but then again so was it with the guys just behind me.

"Overtaking here is very, very tough as it has showed in previous years, but we do have DRS. I would hope we can overtake, but I would doubt it.

"But I would do everything I could to move forwards! Definitely the guy in front, the top two or three, generally have an easier job because they have a lot clearer air.

"But we will give it our all and we hope with improved pit stops, as well, we hope we can make steps forward."

McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh declined to explain precisely why Hamilton had been asked to stop.

"There was enough fuel to take a fuel sample, but we stopped the car. There was 1.3 litres of fuel taken out of the car," insisted Whitmarsh.

Hamilton and McLaren were given a reprimand and a $10,000 fine at the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix in similar circumstances.

Whitmarsh said Saturday's drama was due to a problem in the McLaren garage.

"It is a technical problem that happened in the garage that didn't impede the performance of the car in any way and we stopped when it had 1.3 litres of fuel in the car," he added.

He was adamant that Hamilton had enough fuel to complete his lap back to the pit lane and also to supply a one litre sample.

Hamilton had a best lap of 1min 21.707sec to finish half a second clear of Maldonado.

Fernando Alonso was next fastest ahead of Romain Grosjean and his Lotus team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

They were followed by Sergio Perez of Sauber, Nico Rosberg of Mercedes and defending champion Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull.

Maldonado's promotion to pole was a great present for team founder Sir Frank Williams, who was celebrating his 70th birthday in the team garage.

"We have worked so hard to understand these tyres and develop our car around them and this is a great step forward for the team. We have such a good spirit and the car feels fantastic," said Maldonado.

Maldonado's promotion has given Williams their first pole since Nico Hulkenberg secured his maiden and sole pole position so far at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix.

It is also the first ever for a Venezuelan driver.

Revised grid for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix following the demotion of Lewis Hamilton to the back for breaching technical regulations:

1st row:
Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Renault)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari)

2nd row:
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus-Renault)
Kimi Räikkönen (FIN/Lotus-Renault)

3rd row:
Sergio Pérez (MEX/Sauber-Ferrari)
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes-AMG)

4th row:
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault)
Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Sauber-Ferrari)

5th row:
Michael Schumacher (GER/Mercedes-AMG)
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)

6th row:
Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault)
Paul di Resta (GBR/Force India-Mercedes)

7th row:
Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Force India-Mercedes)
Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)

8th row:
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari)

9th row:
Bruno Senna (BRA/Williams-Renault)
Vitaly Petrov (RUS/Caterham-Renault)

10th row:
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN/Caterham-Renault)
Charles Pic (FRA/Marussia-Cosworth)

11th row:
Timo Glock (GER/Marussia-Cosworth)
Pedro de la Rosa (ESP/HRT-Cosworth)

12th row:
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)

Note: Narain Karthikeyan (IND/HRT-Cosworth) qualified outside of the alloted time and will wait on a stewards decision on whether or not he will be allowed to race on Sunday.


  • Brett - 2012-05-12 20:38

    So many rules. Another reason why I prefer Moto GP.

      Deon - 2012-05-13 07:24

      So then rather refrain from commenting on F1 articles and stick to Moto GP.

      Bob - 2012-05-13 07:57

      Brett, couldn't agree with you more, it's a frikken circus not a sport, of course you are right, Moto GP is far and away a better sport to watch, how exciting is it when the F1 teams doing their overtaking manouvres in the pit lane, rather watch paint dry, it's supposed to be a RACE not a technical fiasco, in say all that Hamiltons team are pathetic for getting such a basic rule wrong and costing their driver pole position, hopefully he can fight his way through the pack he is one of the only bright sparks in an otherwise boring sport.

      David - 2012-05-13 09:48

      Have you actually been watching the races Bob? there has been a lot of overtaking this year with great maneuvers by the drivers. We've even had three cars side by side in a corner!! You can't fault this season as boring at the moment, the Chinese GP was epic!!

      marnusmnorval - 2012-05-13 12:10

      Moto GP is SOOOO predictable.. I guess it is only for mentally retarded people..

  • jason.absmeier - 2012-05-12 20:51

    FIA need to grow up!!! they are ruining the sport

      christo.stone - 2012-05-12 21:02

      Agreed...that is such a stupid reason to take away his pole position...

      Bob - 2012-05-13 08:00

      Staal they are not playing golf, try committing a foul in soccer you get a yellow card, they have now ruined what could have been an exciting race all over a couple of ltrs of fuel, how pathetic, again pretty bad of his team getting such a basic rule wrong.

      Bob - 2012-05-13 08:02

      Staal again, in golf it depends what rule you break in golf, can be a two shot penalty, not sent to the very back of the field after leading.

      Staal - 2012-05-13 09:34

      @Bob Imposing a two stroke penalty is not breaking the rules, it is applying the rules. A few years back a player won a PGA tournament in the USA, but used a split grip long handle putter. One of the two grips had a flat surface, which is against the rules. He was DISQUALIFIED, and that after winning the tournament. Know and apply the rules, or go home!

  • Theuns - 2012-05-12 21:04

    They have always been cheaters

      Staal - 2012-05-12 23:04

      I agree absolutely. Ron Dennis clearly left his mark and McLaren keep to their cheating ways. Such pathetic reasons are always being advanced by McLaren for their misdemeanours - it is an affront to the intelligence of all F1 fans

  • george.pito - 2012-05-12 21:16

    Look at it this way just enough fuel. Sorry maybe there was anyway something in the fuel not to get tested. Why did they stop only to hide something. Like not wanting to pee in the bottle

  • Gustav Weich - 2012-05-12 21:20

    not stupid at all - if you are underfuelled you have an unfair advantage. They know the rules

  • Rodney - 2012-05-12 21:23

    why does silly things like this always involve Hamilton ? mmmm...

  • Bennie - 2012-05-12 22:52

    Actually a Alonso fan, but this is a ridiculous penalty. 5 place grid drop would have been sufficiant taking into consideration his pace throughout qualifying. Was actually looking forward to an immense Hamilton, Alonso struggle. Problems at pitstops for hammy and now this? Conspiracy theorists are going to have a ball. Even I am starting to wonder

  • Pieter - 2012-05-13 07:49

    Mooi so, nou maak dit maar net die resies vir Ferrari so 'n klein bietjie makliker om te wen!! GO FERRARI GO!!!

  • Faizie - 2012-05-13 08:23

    If he cant win from the back of the grid over ???? laps then this is not a sport. Might as well be scalextric

  • Freddy - 2012-05-13 08:28

    Maybe the Mclaren team runs on gas. They just fa*t along. GO FERRARI.

  • Keith - 2012-05-13 09:11

    Unfortunetly Hamilton always seen as an outsider by F1. Stewards are always eager to get at him, have been like this for years.And seeing so many F1 fans negative comments on Hamilton, so does a lot of you guys, jealousy turned to hatred to racism as according to you and stewards he does not belong in F1. All opf you are frikken Aholes!!!!

      shooshyu.tu - 2012-05-13 11:52

      Trust a PS (protected species), Sharks supporter to play the race card again - pathetic comment.

      Deon - 2012-05-13 12:33

      Dude, are you even following this sport? Come on, get your head out of the sand! Hamilton receives a lot of attention from the stewards because he's involved in a lot of on-track misdemenours. He treads the fine line between aggressive racing and breaking the rules, and that's what makes him so good. There is absolutely nothing racial about this. In case you didn't notice, there are drivers of all races on the grid (black, latino, asian and white), so why would anyone specifically be racist towards Hamilton? The racism that you refer to ends when you step across SA's borders and into the real world

  • douglas.barnes2 - 2012-05-13 09:32

    fire your manager lewis,he

  • SlegBliksem - 2012-05-13 10:01


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