Did running low on fuel give Lewis Hamilton pole position? No.

McLaren didn't put enough fuel in Hamilton's car in qualifying

McLaren didn't put enough fuel in Hamilton's car in qualifying

Several readers have asked in the comments whether Hamilton’s pole position for today’s Canadian Grand Prix was achieved solely because he had less fuel in his car than his rivals.

Having taken a look at the numbers it seems very unlikely.

Hamilton was instructed to stop his car on the track in order to ensure he had at least one kilo of fuel left in order to give a sample to the FIA for inspection. We can safely assume that the other nine cars which came into the pits at the end of Q3 were as close to that one kilo limit as they could get.

According to Williams, an F1 car burns 2.067kg of fuel on a lap of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Hamilton completed more than half of his lap back to the pits, so let’s say he was half a lap short of fuel – he should have had another kilo in the car.

How much time would that extra kilo have cost him? Williams tell us that fuel for 5km (2.37kg) increases a driver’s lap time by 0.06s. Hamilton’s missing kilo would have cost him 0.025 seconds.

Hamilton beat Webber to pole position by 0.268 seconds, so it doesn’t look like the missing fuel had much of an effect at all.

These figures assume the McLaren has identical fuel consumption to the Williams. It won’t do, though it will be very close.

To be on the safe side, let’s exaggerate the figures and see what happens:

What if McLaren’s fuel consumption was twice as high, their performance penalty for carrying extra fuel was twice as high, and Hamilton needed twice as much fuel in the car? He would have gained 0.103s – less than half his advantage over Webber.

Did running low on fuel give Lewis Hamilton pole position for today’s race? Based on these figures I think we can confidently answer that it did not.

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115 comments on Did running low on fuel give Lewis Hamilton pole position? No.

  1. sid said on 13th June 2010, 13:15

    Well I think the fact that he was in the end .25 of a sec faster suggests that he would have been faster anyways.

    but parking the car before reaching the pits cant be encouraged and in that sense i am a bit disappointed with the final decision.

    This is a fairly short circuit, imagine people parking their cars on a much longer circuit like Spa..there they might gain upto .2 of a sec by running out of gas…

  2. Osmar Cassãp said on 13th June 2010, 13:17

    Every rule exists to disciplinate human acts. Hamilton shall not to try the last lap. Now every team can do the same, at the end of each Q1, Q2 and Q3. The Maclaren’s rule is stupid.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th June 2010, 13:34

      Perhaps we should wait until Q3 in Valencia before jumping to that conclusion.

      • GeeMac said on 13th June 2010, 14:20

        Quite right. If you “did a Hamilton” at the end of Q2 I imagine that you wouldn’t be able to get the car back to your garage in time to stick more fuel in it, get fresh tyres and set a quali lap in Q3, so I don’t see this becoming a trend.

        At the end of the day McLaren took a risk and it paid off. In my mind there is no difference between this and the decision Jenson made to switch to slicks in Australia. Both were gutsy calls that paid off.

      • Osmar Cassãp said on 15th June 2010, 12:55

        I said they can, not they will.

    • James_mc (@james_mc) said on 13th June 2010, 14:56

      I suspect that there will be a clarification of the rules come Valencia, a bit like after Schumacher/Alonso/Rascasse and Spa 2008

  3. I’m not saying he got pole because of the short fuel situation but as you have confirmed, small as it may be, it did give him an advantage. You cannot say it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t change the result. It’s like saying HRT can run with flexi wings because they will still be at the back of the grid and would not change the result. Simple ruling would have been to delete the last lap time as this would have been the only one he was shorter than he should have been and would stop teams doing it in the future.

    • Clazzi said on 13th June 2010, 13:35

      Best post and explains my sentiments exactly. What bothers me is how light the rules are for Mclaren and not only this season rather than the particular incident itself. Especially the stuff with Petrov back in malaysia. This reprimand thing is really bad we need to see actual punishment at faults and I don’t mean ridiculous displays like Schumacher’s in monaco.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 13th June 2010, 13:55

      Actually, you can, because the “rule” broken was nowhere near as blatant and set as your hypothetical HRT scenario.

      The only reason for deleting a time is if the car was underweight, or the driver cut a corner, or something lke that. Hamilton broken none of these rules.

      What he did break was the “rule” about getting back to the pits in time. And that “rule” says nothing about why it was broken.

      As things are, Hamilton did nothing wrong to merit his time being deleted, or taking a grid penalty. If the FIA want to clear things up for the future, they can and perhaps should. But given that there are other, more important and more set rules that need clarifying that haven’t been, from that point of view why should they?

      McLaren made a mistake and were punished accordingly. If anyone tries it soon, that will be the difference – it would be intentional. I doubt we’ll be seeing a repeat for a long while yet.

      • Yeah that’s a fair point. However he did gain an advantage (however small) so something needs to be done to prevent teams doing the same in the future. If someone does the same without the rules be clarrified/changed then can you imagine the carnage that will happen afterwards if they don’t get the same treatment as McLaren – how can you prove they didn’t do it by mistake and it was intentional?

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 13th June 2010, 15:43

          It would be hard, but take this into consideration: when was the last time this happened? If it happens again this year it’ll look very convenient.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th June 2010, 16:33

            From comments by Martin Withmarsh i understand, the Stewards had a look into how far this was planned to have an advantage.

            He goes on saying, that anybody having a try next time will be hard put to explain themselves and proving it not to be planned, risking a hefty penalty.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th June 2010, 14:08

      You cannot say it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t change the result.

      I didn’t say that.

      • Yeah sorry, that wasn’t really aimed at you/your article, more the comments on here and elsewhere so was an in general ‘you’ if you get me!

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th June 2010, 13:32

    I’ve made a correction to one of the calculations above, but it’s made little difference to the final result. I had one of Williams’ figures written down wrong.

  5. Tiomkin said on 13th June 2010, 13:33

    Nice analysis CSI Keith. Case closed.

  6. xtophe (@xtophe) said on 13th June 2010, 13:34

    I’m not really bugged by the fact he got pole, he was one of the fastest drivers on the track after all. On the other hand, it’s a bogus argument. “He was the fastest but needed only that one lap more to have a clean time.” That’s like saying that someone would’ve needed a 13th lap when laps were limited to 12 a pilot. There’s probably a lot of pilots that could blitz one sector, the trick is to get all three right for a pole-lap. If you make a mistake, well, that’s just your problem.

    I seriously don’t mind him being on pole, but if every team is going to keep on looking for that little extra by pulling off stuff like this, well we’ll be up for some sitcom humour in upcoming qualifications.

  7. Hamish said on 13th June 2010, 13:48

    For me I give the man Kudos. As much as it probably kept Bernie awake last night it was good to see something different to the otherwise “by the book” F1 package delivered to the public.

  8. Hi, it seems that many are unhappy with hamilton. Well, all i could say is that many are making v biased statements.

    i think no one would doubt this season, he is the brightest star of almost all races. Without him, i guess many would be boring. the only thing that let him down this year is his luck, other than that, i would say he drove brillantly.

    In bahrain, no doubt, mclaren not fast enough for bulls n ferrari.

    Malaysia- he’s let down by the teams weather radar, but still carved way up to the front much faster as compared to ALO, BUT,MAS. Though he weaved, i honestly felt that it was fine, as it is more of the breaking the tug as said, because he alr pass petrov n there was no way the renault can pass the mclaren on the straight given its famous f duct.

    China- weird team strategy, pitted 3/4 times yet finished second.
    Monaco- team is weak in slow sector, outqualified button.
    Australia- prob affected by the hooning incident, but nonetheless drove brilliantly only to be let down by mclaren’s additional pitstop.
    Spain- great racing thrghout weekend only to crash on penultimate lap not because of driver fault but by front wheel suspension failure.

    Turkish- proved himself as race winner.

    So, actually, who can doubt his maturity in driving this yr? He have driven so much better than as compared to his rookie season n even 08 at some extent. He,s still aggressive, but he knows how to make use of it to the best extent.

    finally, sry for the long post but i seriously cant stand hamilton haters here humming away about everything he does, whether right or wrong. This season till todays race, he has not did any fault and majority of the controversies( xcept hooning n weaving) r caused by the team rather than the driver.

    • Tone said on 13th June 2010, 14:01

      sorry but he didn’t prove himself as a race winner in Turkey, Vettel LOST the race for Red Bull, no way would Lewis have won it had the Red Bulls not collided.

      and as for your comment about Hamilton haters, welcome to the world of the Schumacher fan, he had everyone hating on him but I guess that was OK because it wasn’t Lewis huh? ;) Lewis could do the same as Schumacher did (and last time in Canada, he DID deliberately crash into a Ferrari) yet I don’t see people who hated on Schumacher for it hating on him. Funny that. ;)

      For the record, Lewis drove his best LAST YEAR when he didn’t have the best car, this year he has been simply dangerous, both on track and on the road, but people still kiss his a***.

      • hawkfist said on 13th June 2010, 14:09

        And why did the Red Bulls collide? Nothing to do with the pressure of the McLaren’s right up their rearwings all race?

        I don’t think anyone ever thought he deliberately crashed into Raikkonen, it was a completely stupid mistake that he got rightly penalised for, but there wasn’t much question of intent at the time.

        And Lewis has been dangerous this year? I can remember Vettel pushing him towards airhoses and mechanics in the pits, Vettel forcing him into Webber after a safety car restart and Vettel taking himself out of a race by crashing into his teammate.

        • Tone said on 13th June 2010, 14:11

          he shouldn’t have been alongside Vettel in the pitlane in the first place, and he was trying to race him down the pitlane, which last I looked, wasn’t allowed.

          • hawkfist said on 13th June 2010, 14:19

            Charlie Whiting has said he’s fine with racing in the pitlane as long as they don’t get too near the garages. Hamilton was only near the garage because Vettel pushed him that way.

    • remengo said on 13th June 2010, 14:12

      except…and except and except……everyone could be a superchampion, sorry…..

    • Hamish said on 13th June 2010, 14:17

      Ng – “v biased opinions”….

      By the sounds of it I wouldn’t be suprised if you were to have a shrine to the man in your house. People do dislike him, I give you that, just that doesn’t justify your approach you’ve taken. Heck, I lot of people dislike him because of comments like yours. Read what you’ve posted. You’ve basically said the man has done no wrong this year. He has made errors and you can’t take that approach when hes been beaten by his teammate a few times this year, regardless of weather.

      Put it this way – on the 7th day Jesus rested, he didn’t create Lewis Hamilton.

      • S Hughes said on 13th June 2010, 14:26

        I find it hilarious how upset Hamilton-haters get when someone praises him to the hilt.

        • Scribe (@scribe) said on 13th June 2010, 14:36

          Because praising him to the hilt really is quite annoying too any kind of bias irritaited when opinion is used in front of facts.. Personally I think Hamilton has been driving sensationally this year, thats only my opinion though, Malaysia being the thing that really annoyed me weaving wasn’t really on, I’d have given him a three place grid drop.

          You can add a third and a second to his points from mistakes the team made. An user:Tone is also being fairly biased but however good you think Hammys been, no doubt he makes mistakes, he is human for crying out loud.

          • Tone said on 13th June 2010, 14:41

            mistakes are fine, but anyone else would have been punished for them much harder than he’s been… just like Schumi in Monaco. That should have been a reversal of position, nothing more, and so should this.

        • Tone said on 13th June 2010, 14:38

          I find it hilarious how Schumacher haters get upset when he breathes in and out.

          Maybe if Hamilton had done something praiseworthy this year… like he did last year (not a total hater, just think he did his best driving last year and that he’s been massively overhyped by the media, including this site it seems)

      • Hi, im not trying to be overly biased but i find the thread of the talk about hamilton’s qualifying lap is due to him ( the driver) trying to playing underhand methods/ or dishonest means (by qualifying an additional lap) unjustified. He did perfectly within the rules ( There’s still time for another lap), but we can probably only say, the team had fuel him lesser than they should, probably an honest mistake.

        But we should’nt discount the fact that Hamilton (or any other drivers) drove brilliantly to the lap. As for hamilton being beaten by button, the statistics now is

        HAM : BUT
        4 : 3 (-1 on both sides if we strictly consider mechanic failures of BUT in monaco, HAM in spain).

        We can’t really say its HAM being beaten just because BUT has won two races. The trend is still HAM being the better driver in dry/ wet conditions. It is BUT’s strategic thinking n clever decisions that allowed him to beat HAM. ( Pls note, im not biased, n is not discounting BUT’s effort, because thats a skill as well)

        But, on the overall, HAM is still the driver that is faster based on Raw speed n overtaking skills n etc. He needs to learn from BUT those driver-speared decision making skills. Raw skills and etc (such as being able to pressure the brakes at a higher force than any other drivers), are mainly given or trained from v. young.

  9. Tone said on 13th June 2010, 13:56

    Well, every other car managed to get back to the pits AND have fuel to give a sample, so yes, he MUST have been lighter, and before that final lap he was 3rd. It’s marginal, but he was undoubtedly lighter than he would have been if he was able to get back to the pits at the mandated speed.

    I hope Red Bull or Ferrari get a pole the same way in a coming race, I will then wait for all the people who support Hamilton this time to slate anyone else who does it (I would be joining them, before anyone throws accusations that I wouldn’t my way).

    I think it’s reasonable to expect a car to be able to do it’s laps and then get back to the pits on the fuel (assuming no mechanical issues) and THEN give the required sample.

    This has also once again shown the general inconsistency of the Stewards this year. Lewis only ever gets reprimands that don’t affect the race result or even give him a penalty, yet others get time/grid penalties for breaking obscure rules… most unfair. It’s like they’re almost SCARED to punish Lewis like they should.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 13th June 2010, 13:59

      The difference is, was it intentional? No doubt many will want to believe so, but isn’t that jus as convenient thinking as you;re inferring Hamilton fans are engaging in?

      If another team tries it, it will be blatant (even if McLaren did it on purpose, there’s no proof it wasn’t an unplanned error), and they will be punished, and rightly so, and that goes for if it’s McLaren again too. You can bet McLaren will now be having kittens at it happening again and the stewards coming down on them like a ton of bricks for it.

      • Tone said on 13th June 2010, 14:04

        well, they’ve already been light on Lewis this year every chance they got, and heavy on Schumacher… funny that.

        It’s an advantage taken, intentional or not. He shouldn’t have done that last lap if he didn’t have fuel to get back… I find it hard to believe he or the team wouldn’t know exactly how much fuel he had left, they seemed to know when they told him to stop the car ;)

        • Scribe (@scribe) said on 13th June 2010, 14:43

          Whose been getting grid penalties for obscure rule breaking this year? Can’t remember that happening.

          An apparently it’s not marginal Hamilton had 2.5 tenths in hand, an the fuel penalty was barley a tenth, he’d have got the pole anyway.

          An no, your completley wrong, the reason they were heavy on Schumacher, IS BECAUSE THE RULES GAVE THEM NO CHOICE, you can’t just ignore what’s in the regs for sports sake, the way the stewards deliberated on it for so long you get the feeling thats what they would have liked to have done, got him off lightly. An then they clarified the rules and Mercedes AND Schumacher both acepeted it as fair.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th June 2010, 16:40

            Thats right Scribe.

            Finally the Stewards are encouraged to make desicions not punishing having a try at racing or just downright biased or wrong.

            Even in monaco they did agree with the penalty for Schumi being overly hars, but the only other option, not giving a penalty would have harmed Alonso, that would have been even more unfair.

            The FIA should have a look at giving the Stewards more room for deciding on penalties that fit the crime here.
            But this is only possible if all involved can accept those stewards as deciding fairly, predictably and without bias, what they have started doing this year.

  10. Daffid said on 13th June 2010, 13:58

    I agree with the result of your analysis Keith, but he didn’t get more than half way round under power. He crossed the line and immediately eased off lowering fuel consumption, then killed power 24-28 seconds later less than a 1/3 of the way round – you can hear him cut the engine on iplayer. (He comes past one camera under power, by the time he reaches the next he’s switched off.) So for the 2nd time this year we saw how far you can get coasting an F1 car. But he’d still have been on pole.

    • jobseeker said on 13th June 2010, 15:39

      his car is still running at the hairpin onto the straight. wasnt until he started down the straight he turned it off. granted he was nowhere near full power

      • Daffid said on 13th June 2010, 17:41

        Yeah, sorry, I totally brainstormed. I meant he puts it in neutral and idles downhill before the chicane, but doesn’t switch it off altogether till later as you say

  11. Tommy said on 13th June 2010, 14:20

    Why do people have such a problem with Hamilton haters?…..we really are a nice bunch of folk who are as passionate and knowledgeable about F1 as everyone else. There are loads of Alonso haters, there are even more Schumacher haters (and both groups have a plethora of reasons to ‘hate’ each one respectively) but no-one seems to mind when they spew their vitriol but as soon as us Hamilton ‘haters’ wish to chime in with our two cents, we get the negative vibe merchants trying to bring us down. It’s not fair….. :-(

  12. Rahim RG said on 13th June 2010, 14:24

    I think they should start a new rule stating whoever can’t get back to the pits(No Fuel) after their quali lap will directly be classified as starting from tenth…. :)

  13. Tommy said on 13th June 2010, 14:35

    @ Tone, yeah mate. Though funnily enough I lived in the UK for about 4 years until a couple of months ago and most people I met, whether they were an F1 fans or not, disliked Hamilton. In fact, in all my worldly travels (which have been quite extensive – every continent except Antarctica) I think I met three or four Hamilton fans…the rest were haters….

    • Ade said on 13th June 2010, 14:52

      Really? This is very strange. Every driver has it’s “haters”, but I never saw many Germany fans dislike Schmacher, or Spanish fan dislike Alonso, are you people in the UK the most unbiased people in the world?

      • Tone said on 13th June 2010, 14:57

        From what foreign media I’ve seen, it’s only the UK media that relentlessly overhypes anything someone from said country does and elevates even a minor achievement to godlike levels while hating anyone from another country who happens to do well. Also there are bad winners here, people still go on about beating Germany in the 1966 World Cup as if it happened yesterday, while the germans don’t care about something that happened nearly 50 years ago ;)

      • BBT said on 13th June 2010, 15:01

        Not strange really, there is a culture in the UK to dislike successful people in sport even if they are from the UK. Man Utd in football for example.

        There is a fine line between pure skill, the mental attitude it takes to win and arrogance, which is generally why a lot of people in England are that keen on Hamiltion.

  14. Tommy said on 13th June 2010, 14:53

    @ Katy: Agreed but one could presume that’s because they have a lot more fodder…

  15. BBT said on 13th June 2010, 14:55

    Vettel stopped after crossing the line in 4th in Bahrain, OK he had a fault but could of made it back to the pits. Didn’t Ron Denis speculate that he didn’t have enough fuel to get back to the pits. Lets face it this kind of thing happens all the time.

    If you don’t take the rules to the limit (and occasionally over) you don’t win its the same in all sport, simple as that.

    Fair play to Mclaren, RBR (suspension), Mclaren and Merc (diffuser) for getting away stretching the rules.

    BTW lets remind ourselves they didn’t actually break and rules yesterday.. Fact.

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