Posted by Simon Wright
MCLAREN’s Lewis Hamilton has been stripped of his pole position and will start tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix from the back of the grid. After setting his pole time on the Circuit de Catalunya, Hamilton failed to complete his in-lap back to parc ferme and was told to stop his car on the circuit by the team.
Although the initial reason wasn’t given, with Martin Whitmarsh being very coy in interviews afterwards, it was later revealed by race stewards that Hamilton didn’t have enough fuel left in his car for a standard FIA sample. This effectively declared the car as underweight and therefore, illegal.
Hamilton was thrown out of qualifying once McLaren’s argument of a fuel rig issue had been dismissed by the FIA stewards. Johnny Herbert, a driver representative on the FIA stewards panel from previous races told Sky Sports F1 his lack of symphony with McLaren; “The penalty is not harsh. The rules state that you have to have enough fuel in the car. It’s a horrible thing as they’ve done it before. It is unfortunate but it’s in the rules, its black and white and is yet another bad mistake by McLaren.”
In the very complex FIA technical regulations, this is what is stated under 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.”
This ruling was brought into force following a similar incident happened after Hamilton had taken pole position for the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix. That time around, McLaren got away with a reprimand but they weren’t so lucky today.
McLaren have reluctantly accepted the decision with technical director Paddy Lowe tweeting tonight; “To all our fans: so sorry about this error. We are more gutted than anybody. An amazing performance by Lewis throughout Q, ruined.”
The stewards decision means Pastor Maldonado will start from his maiden pole position for Williams Renault tomorrow with Fernando Alonso alongside on the front row for his home grand prix.