Sebastian Vettel sent to the back of the Abu Dhabi grid for fuel infringement
RB8 found to have 'insufficient quantity of fuel for sampling purposes'
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 04/11/12 12:09am
Sebastian Vettel has been demoted to the back of the grid for the Abu Dhabi GP after being stripped of his qualifying times.
The reigning World Champion, who holds a thirteen points lead in this year's championship, has been penalised for breaking article 6.6.2 of the Technical Regulations after stopping his Red Bull on the Yas Marina track at the end of Saturday's qualifying hour.
Vettel's RB8 was subsequently found to have an insufficient quantity of fuel for post-qualifying scrutineering, triggering a swingeing punishment and a dramatic twist in the title race.
Although title rival Fernando Alonso will only begin Sunday's race from sixth position, the prospect of Vettel starting 24th has handed the Spaniard - and his under-fire Ferrari team - an unexpected reprieve as they strive to overcome his points deficit and the seemingly-inexorable momentum that the World Champion had built up with four consecutive victories.
Red Bull have since confirmed they intend to start Vettel from the pitlane, with the team expected to make a series of tweaks to his car in order to give their driver the best possible chance of overtaking around one of the narrowest circuits on the calendar.
"If he manages to get into the points tomorrow then that would be a great achievement," acknowledged Red Bull boss Christian Horner as the team faced up to the scale of their setback. "We'll attack the race, and I'm sure Sebastian will demonstrate to everybody why he's a great racing driver.
"But it's a fair decision. The rules dictate a litre of fuel has to be provided without removal of bodywork or manipulating the car.
"We've no doubt the fuel is in the cell according to what Renault have told us. They are convinced the rest of the fuel is in the tank, but you can't dismantle the cell to give a sample.
"We need to get into the fuel cell to understand what happened. It's a frustrating scenario."
In a ruling delivered more than four hours after the session had ended, the stewards declared:
'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.'
What the F1 Technical Regulations say
'Article 6.6.2: 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.'