Nico Rosberg’s Williams and the BMWs of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld failed post-race inspections of their fuel temperatures.
Were at least two the the three disqualified, and the drivers behind them promoted in the points standings, Lewis Hamilton would be world champion instead of Kimi Raikkonen.
The BMW and Williams cars were found to have fuel ten degrees cooler than the regulations allow. Fuel temperature can affect how much fuel can be fit into the cars’ tanks.
Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard were disqualified from first and second in the 1995 Brazilian Grand Prix when it was found their fuel did not match the sample given to the FIA.
The appeal court ruled that Schumacher and Coulthard would keep their drivers’ points, as they had gained no advantage from the fuel, but the constructors lost their points. Were that precedent used in the handling of this case, Raikkonen would keep the championship.
Whatever happens, were the championship to change hands hours after the chequered flag had fallen, it would not improve F1’s reputation after another controversial season.
Update: Further details. Article 6.5.5 of the Formula 1 Technical Regulations states “no fuel on board the car may be more than 10C below ambient temperature”.
The air temperature at the track was 37C and Nick Heidfeld’s fuel temperature at his two pits stops was measured at 24C and 25C. The other three cars (including Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams, which did not finish in the points) were also found to have fuel that was cooler than is allowed at other points during the race.
At 11.30pm British time (8.30pm at the circuit) the stewards are still deliberating.
Update 2: It has been confirmed that the fuel tested was illegal throughout the race, but no penalty has yet been announced.
Nick Heidfeld’s fuel was 13C lower than ambient temperatures at his first stop and 12C lower at his second stop. Robert Kubica’s fuel was 14C, 13C and 13C below at his three stops. Nico Rosberg’s 13C and 12C at his two stops. Kazuki Nakajima’s was 12C below at his first stop but at his second stop it was inside the 10-degree limit.
Update 3: Certain sites are running unconfirmed reports that the original results will stand. Still awaiting official confirmation.
Photo: Andrew Ferraro / LAT Photographic