Hamilton's pole lap under investigation
Hamilton could be stripped of P1
Last Updated: 12/05/12 6:32pm
A stewards' investigation has been launched to deem whether Lewis Hamilton's pole-winning lap in qualifying for the Spanish GP was legal.
Under orders from his McLaren team, Hamilton stopped his MP4-27 out on track as he toured the circuit after completing the lap that had - seemingly - secured pole position on Saturday.
However, Sky Sports F1 understands that Hamilton's car had just 1.3 litres on board when it was brought to a halt and, if McLaren are unable to persuade the stewards that Hamilton's car was underweight due to a 'force majeure', the Englishman is poised to be stripped of what would have been the team's 150th pole position.
"When you go out in qualifying, you need enough fuel to do the out-lap, the timed-lap, an in-lap, and then enough fuel to make it back to the pits," Ted Kravitz explained on Sky Sports News. "The teams need to give one litre of fuel to the FIA as a fuel sample - and that's one litre that they can't touch to power the car. So that left just 0.3 litres of fuel - which is not enough to take Lewis Hamilton back to the pits because he would have needed about 1.5 litres of fuel to make it back. So it looks like the McLaren was under-fuelled.
Whitmarsh coy on car
"The question is whether that was deliberate or not. McLaren say it was not deliberate and that there was a technical reason - a 'force majeure' - to explain why Lewis Hamilton used more fuel than they expected."
The rule outlawing cars stopping out on track was strengthened after Hamilton came to a halt in Montreal two years ago at the end of qualifying for the Canadian GP.
"The regulations have changed since then," added Ted. "It will have to be an absolute concrete case that McLaren can put to the stewards to say 'look, this is the proof that we were using more fuel than intended'. But if they can't produce that concrete evidence then Lewis Hamilton could very easily be kicked out of qualifying altogether and have to start at the back of the grid or the pitlane."
It is believed that McLaren, represented by Sporting Director Sam Michael, will plead that the issue was caused by a faulty fuel-rig.
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh has told Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle that "my sense and feeling is that Lewis won't get a penalty."
According to the Press Association, Whitmarsh has described the fault as "a technical problem that happened in the garage that did not impede the performance of the car in any way."
However, in yet another twist, it's now believed that the stipulation that a car must have enough fuel to make it back to the pits before providing its one-litre sample is not set in regulatory stone.
"We understand that it's just a verbal rule that Charlie Whiting has told the teams," reported Ted. "So that might be a little escape clause that McLaren have."