Hamilton penalty hands Maldonado first pole position

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Barcelona, 2012Pastor Maldonado has inherited pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton was handed a grid penalty after stopping on his return to the pits in Q3 and will start from the back of the grid.

McLaren instructed Hamilton to stop as he had too little fuel in the car and needed to retain enough to provide a sample to the FIA for testing.

Although the rules allow a car to be stopped on its return to the pits if needed, a shortage of fuel is not considered an acceptable reason.

A statement from the stewards read:

“The stewards received a report from the race director which stated that during post-qualifying scrutineering a sample of fuel was required from car four, however, the car 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 team representative Mr Sam Michael who stated that the car stopped on the circuit for reasons of force majeure. A team member had put an insufficient quantity of fuel into the car thereby resulting in the car having to be stopped on the circuit in order to be able to provide the required amount for sampling purposes.

“As the amount of fuel put into the car is under the complete control of the competitor the stewards cannot accept this as a case of force majeure.

“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.”

Article 6.6.2 of the technical regulations states: “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.”

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2012 Spanish Grand Prix

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578 comments on Hamilton penalty hands Maldonado first pole position

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  1. djdaveyp85 (@djdaveyp87) said on 12th May 2012, 19:28

    Can’t see anything other than a Lotus win now.

  2. jonz (@jonz) said on 12th May 2012, 19:29

    Why don’t the stewards rewrite the rule and apply it “Next Time”?

  3. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 12th May 2012, 19:30

    I really do feel sorry for Hamilton this season.

    His one lap pace has been supreme this season, and his race pace has been a lot more consistent than the other front runners. Though, McLaren seem to keep messing it up for him. They have a great car, as we have seen, it’s 5 tenths quicker than the next car on a track where the car is everything. Yet, they’re messing up both his and Jenson’s chances at this championship, whether it’s through setup, pitstops, or just general schoolboy errors such as this.

  4. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 12th May 2012, 19:30

    Not Sam Michael’s finest hour. Too early to say he’s to blame – not certain what his role is at McLaren, but it’s something to do with sporting regulations. And look which team inherits its first pole position for…ah, only 18 months – but still, a great day for Williams.

  5. Rocky (@rocky) said on 12th May 2012, 19:32

    How can such a brilliant team make such stupid blunders, time after time and time again? Explain/defend this one Martin!

  6. andys said on 12th May 2012, 19:32

    Good ,i’m so glad,couldn’t happen to a nicer person NOT.
    Can’t stand the bloke arrogant,spoilt,and when he is to blame for something blames it on his colour.
    Rules are rules….

  7. Bwal87 (@bwal87) said on 12th May 2012, 19:35

    As a Hamilton fan I’m gutted obviously but can understand the need for a penalty. But to demote him to the back of the grid? It’s draconian. I can’t recall a precedent for this offence or penalty since the rules were changed after Canada 2010 and there doesn’t seem to be anything in the regs about a specific penalty for the offence.

    The main issue is McLaren’s operational errors that show no sign of diminishing. If it isn’t a slow pit-stop, it’s a strategic error and now this. They are being trounced by Red Bull on the operational front just as they were by Ferrari in the Brawn/Schumacher/Todt/Byrne years and helps explain their constructor’s title drought. Hamilton’s an emotional man and driver who is personally delivering this year so if McLaren don’t sharpen up it wouldn’t surprise me if he saw the appeal of a Red Bull or Merc seat for 2013.

  8. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 12th May 2012, 19:35

    Maldonado will be happy to have taken pole but will he feel it was deserved?

  9. sumedh said on 12th May 2012, 19:36

    One for the stats section – HAM becomes the first driver since MSC in 2006 Monaco to have got pole and then later been disqualified from all qualifying and to start the race last.

    • sumedh said on 12th May 2012, 19:41

      Curiously, in both the cases, the said driver got the pole and then stopped the car in the in-lap.

  10. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 12th May 2012, 19:39

    I’m pretty angry at this outrageous penalty. It was simply a stupid mistake that was punished in the harshest manner I can imagine. I was anticipating a 3, or maybe 5-place grid penalty; perhaps adding a few tenths to his time would have been a fair penalty too, to compensate for any advantage he may have gained. It must have been McLaren trying to cover up that Hamilton’s stoppage was fuel-related that rubbed the stewards wrong, though I do not exactly see how.

    What makes me more angry is that no FIA official batted an eye when Rosberg, Vettel, and Massa stopped on track after finishing the Bahrain GP, which is also not allowed according to this autosport article: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/99562.

    Where does this leave Hamilton? At the back of the grid with four sets of used tyres, on a circuit where overtaking is very difficult. I was in a splendid mood after this afternoon’s exciting qualifying and Hamilton’s terrific performance, but now I feel like throwing some dishes across the room; or better yet, at an FIA official.

    • paul_E80 said on 12th May 2012, 19:45

      What makes me more angry is that no FIA official batted an eye when Rosberg, Vettel, and Massa stopped on track after finishing the Bahrain GP

      the rule regarding stopping on track only applies to qualifying, There is no similar rule about the end of a race which is why nobody gets penaltys when stopping after the end of a race.

      dont forget this specific rule was only brought in after mclaren did the same thing at canada in 2010.

    • f1geordie (@f1geordie) said on 12th May 2012, 19:50

      Completely agree with you. What makes me more angry is that although there is a specific regulation prohibiting stopping on track due to lack of fuel, there is no set penalty for this action (as far as i can see) so where they plucked a back-of-the-grid penalty from only god knows. Also, the FIA/stewards have a knack of completely ruining special occasions by not using their discretion (eg hamilton’s penalty at Spa 2008). I feel really sorry for maldonado who did a superb job in qualifying but now his first ever f1 pole is stained with it being given to him by default.

    • Karthikeyan (@ridiculous) said on 12th May 2012, 20:25

      1) Exploiting loophole when rules were placed for the very team for their very offense
      2) Lying to others about a non-fuel related car issues
      3) Getting caught red-handed with an under weight car
      And after all this if they should get a very lenient punishment I want to ask, how?

      • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 12th May 2012, 21:03


        1) what loophole? There is a rule in place (because of them, yes), and they broke it. I’m sure they didn’t underfuel him on purpose.
        2) I didn’t know lying to the media would result in disqualification, and I don’t know what they said to the stewards.
        3) The Sky sports website mentioned the under weight car, but the FIA statement only mentioned breach of article 6.6.2.

        Having cooled down a little, I did find another reason why the penalty is harsher than I initially suspected:

        4) They must have known before, or during his flying lap, that he wasn’t going to make it back to the pits. So they conciously took the decision to let him finish the lap, and then try to argue later that their refueling error was force majeur, or maybe they just didn’t expect the penalty to be so harsh. I find this to be understandable, in the heat of the moment, though not entirely forgivable.

  11. Polishboy808 (@polishboy808) said on 12th May 2012, 19:40

    While it might have been a bit harsh to put him all the way to the back, I’m glad the FIA finally stuck to the rules and gave a fair punishment (according to the rules).

    In all honesty though, if the other 11 teams somehow magically managed to fill their cars with the appropriate amount of fuel, how come one of F1’s most experienced and professional teams can’t do it too? I mean, HRT managed to pass tech with no problems, and they are hardly a McLaren. While Hamilton didn’t have anything to do with it, its still disappointing that his team have let him down like that, and that they messed up with the fuel…. again. Oh well, will be quite entertaining to see him come up through the field, lets hope he doesn’t do anything stupid in his desperation….

  12. Mouse_Nightshirt (@mouse_nightshirt) said on 12th May 2012, 19:42

    No matter what way you look at this situation, it’s a complete joke.

    On one side, you have the sheer ineptitude of McLaren showing once again. As much as I have a soft spot for them, this ongoing catalogue of errors is just beyond excusable for any team, let alone one who should be riding high at the top of the constructor’s table at this point in the season.

    On the other hand, you have a penalty, which although correctly raised, seems harshly applied. Being kicked to the back of the grid just seems incredibly harsh, especially when the benefit was absolutely minimal. I guess the rules are the rules though.

    The only benefit this situation gives is that a Williams is on pole. Kudos to them. Can’t wait to hear the conspiracy theorists come out of the woodwork about how it was all to be good to FW and allow Alonso to be on the front row.

  13. Young One said on 12th May 2012, 19:42

    It will be very stupid for HAM to race 2morro becuase he is only going to waste his energy for ppl who don’t care anyway. No point putting your life at risk while trying to grab positions from the back.

  14. f1geordie (@f1geordie) said on 12th May 2012, 19:43

    What an absolutely outrageous penalty. I would agree with disqualifying him from Q3 and demoting him to P10, but how on earth could running too little fuel in Q3 possibly impede the potential grid positions of those who were knocked out in Q1 and Q2, which is suggested by demoting him to the back?

  15. Ribf1 (@) said on 12th May 2012, 19:43

    I remembered someone saying Maldonado is not good.Where did that speed come from?

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