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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.

2010 Canadian Grand Prix

Browse all 2010 Canadian Grand Prix articles

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

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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***.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

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

    3. 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.

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

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

        2. 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)

      2. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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 ;)

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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

      1. 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

  6. 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….. :-(

    1. Exactly Tommy, exactly. Seems at least in the UK you’re not allowed to be an F1 fan and also dislike Hamilton and what he does.

    2. I guess it’s because the Hamilton ‘haters’ are a lot more vocal than others.

  7. 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…. :)

  8. @ 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….

    1. 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?

      1. 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 ;)

      2. 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.

        1. *whoops missed the not keen out

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

  10. 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.

  11. @ Ade. Yep, swear to God mate, most people (well I can only speak on behalf of the people whom I spoke to about Hamilton) think he’s a git. But, as you said, most Germans like Schumacher and Spaniards tend to like Alonso.

    Some of it is probably due to racism, the rest is probably due to the fact that Hamilton is a bit of a git, IMHO

  12. p.s. I’m not British

    1. As I posted above (5 up) its more of a culture thing.

  13. In my opinion, I don’t think they were expecting Lewis to cross the line before the end of the session. He crossed with less than a couple of seconds spare.

    So with only 4th position they decided to use the fuel reserved for the in lap for another flying lap. This wasn’t planned, however they could have elected to not run the lap.

    1. I completely agree with this point. I always thought a team can’t be unaware of sending their driver with lesser fuel for a qualifying lap and an in lap… if so, it should be some dump miscalculation far below their standards.

      If they were sending Hamilton knowingly with so little fuel, I thought they were under the assumption that Red-Bull is too close to even let go that 0.025 secs (as computed by Keith), which sounded a bit too much for me. I simply couldn’t accept they did that, but this is much more reasonable.

  14. Hey Keith, Can we get a list of who is running New Engines prior to each Race. I know Ferrari changed there’s for this Race, but not sure where all the other teams are at. Thanks

    1. If you go on f1wolf.com and click “2010 season” there are engine info and gearbox stats too. It’s really quite handy. It says what they used last racce, sometimes it doesn’t immediately say what’s going on that weekend but it helps to get a good picture over the season

      1. Is that your site (f1wolf.com) Steph???

  15. Keith did a good job here and the fanbois …..oh! Yess!! fanbois not fanboys have diverted the discussion to their selfish ends :-(

  16. Seconded.

    (Extra padding bit!… Your comment was a bit too short. Please go back and try again.)

    1. Sorry, no offence BBQ2, that was supposed to come after Tiomkin!

  17. Whole article just to tell Lewis didnt win pole because of the missing kg of fuel… man you must be bored or bias… the more a read the more i see it could be both

  18. So i just got a tweet from Keith that Webber has a 5 place grid penalty for changing his gearbox.


    Hamilton will be the WDC leader after Canada!!!

    Changes up the order a little too…

  19. Quite clearly, Hamilton would have been on pole regardless of the fact that he was a fraction short of fuel at the end of the race. Whether or not we want to see all the cars stopping out on track after qualifying is another matter.

  20. Florida Mike
    13th June 2010, 15:43

    I think the advantage that McLaren got was not because the car was lighter or the tires stickier, but because the track was quickly improving with every lap. If McLaren chose to use its mandatory reserve fuel for a last hot lap it (when the track was most favorable) then I think it’s fair for the FIA to penalize them. If I was a steward I might have voted to declare that last lap ineligable in addition to the fine imposed.

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.