Hamilton loses pole position
Stewards exclude McLaren from results of qualifying
Last Updated: 13/05/12 7:55am
Lewis Hamilton has been stripped of his pole position for the Spanish GP and demoted to the back of the grid after race stewards found his car to have been under-weight during qualifying.
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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.
The car was discovered to have had just 1.3 litres of fuel on board after it was craned back to the pits - an insufficient amount for the MP4-27 to have completed the lap and then provided the mandatory one-litre fuel sample.
Although McLaren pleaded that the shortage had been caused by a fuel-rig fault and had not influenced the result of qualifying, with Hamilton heading the field by over half a second, the stewards have declared that the team were responsible for the error.
"As the amount of fuel put into the car is under complete control of the Competitor the Stewards cannot accept this as a case of force majeure," they ruled. As a result, Hamilton has been excluded from qualifying and demoted to the back of the grid while Williams' Pastor Maldonado has been promoted to pole.
"It's in the rules, it's black and white, it's another bad mistake from McLaren," Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert - a steward at the Malaysian GP earlier in the season - commented on the judgement.
McLaren have accepted the ruling, but Hamilton's exclusion is yet another embarrassment for a team that has displayed a remarkable capacity for shooting themselves in the foot this season and amounts to a shattering blow both to their credibility and the 2008 World Champion's hopes of victory.
Hamilton himself left the circuit shortly before his punishment was announced.
The Stewards' Ruling In Full:
'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.
'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 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.'