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. Fixy (@fixy) said on 12th May 2012, 20:15

    I knew it the second Hamilton stopped. The commentators hardly noticed it, never mind thinking of the consequences…

  2. SPIDERman (@spiderman) said on 12th May 2012, 20:16

    am sure if Buttons car was underfuelled…the punishment would have been different.

  3. KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 12th May 2012, 20:16

    Well I’m as shocked as anyone else.. But if Hamilton needed to give a fuel sample, then he should know more than any of the other drivers that he has to make it back to the pits under his own power. After all, it’s his actions that brought in this rule. It’s a completely sound rule, and I think the punishment is completely justified. The rules are there to be respected. If he only had a 5 or 10 place penalty like some people on here are suggesting, then that would mean that he still starts ahead of cars that did abide by the rules, which is surely unfair…

    No, I don’t hate Hamilton, I just believe that if he keeps having problems like this (through either his own fault or his team’s) then he’s got to pay the price, it’s the same for the other 23 drivers on the grid, why should Hamilton be able to ‘bypass’ rules?

    • OOliver said on 13th May 2012, 0:11

      You make it sound like Hamilton cose to stop. The team came over the radio and said stop immediately technical issue. The driver has no blame in this. Mclaren is the culprit and the same goes for Canada. Mclaren fuelled the car, Mclaren mde the decision to stop. How is the driver to know what is wrong.

    • Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 13th May 2012, 3:02

      You do realise the Driver does not fuel the car, he does not have a fuel gauge in the car, he does not have a fuel flow meter in the car to work out how much fuel he is using, he has to rely on the team completely on all of this information

      Your post makes it all sound like it was Hamilton who refuelled his car personally, By the 10 times you use He and His. Sorry mate i think you clearly do hate Hamilton. When was the last time you saw a F1 driver personally refuelling his own car?

      The only correct people you can but any blame for this error is on Mclaren THEY are the ones who stuffed up. This was NOT Hamilton’s fault he does not deserve any of the criticism you have given him

  4. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 12th May 2012, 20:19

    CONSPIRACY THEORY: Germans (VETTEL) didn’t have a good saturday nor did Button and Webber, Williams, on Sir Frank Williams’ birthday get Maldonado on the front row deservedly along with home-town boy Fernando Alonso in P3 in a poor but improved Ferrari.

    Stewards: Let’s disqualify Hamilton.


    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 12th May 2012, 21:11


      Mind if I offer another conspiracy theory?

      Do you remember the final scenes of Ronin, where it turns out Robert de Niro is still a CIA agent? CONSPIRACY THEORY: SAM MICHAEL NEVER LEFT WILLIAMS.

      For completeness sake, I should add I am not being serious.

  5. andrew_donny (@andrew_donny) said on 12th May 2012, 20:23

    Sam Michael….it’d be funny if he wasn’t ripping off the fans and the sponsors. The man is the sporting equivalent of the crony capitalist. He moves from team to team, earning a fortune, driving down success….but then someone will probably hire him when McLaren go another 5 years without a constructor’s championship. But hang on…the reason he made Williams go backwards was because the technical design aspects weren’t his strength – he needs to be in an operational capacity to make the pitstops and on track aspects run like clockwork.

    • Montas said on 12th May 2012, 21:23

      So true!! I was really suprised when McLaren hired him. He almost destroyed Williams!! And now McLaren has the best car by far, but they can’t capitalise their advantage because Sam is responsible for all the important trackside desicions.
      Come on, the guy doesn’t have what it takes.

  6. bpacman (@bpacman) said on 12th May 2012, 20:25

    Yet another farce to add to the long, long catalogue of ridiculous decisions made by the FIA / race stewards.

    At the outset, I completely accept that Hamilton/McLaren have breached Article 6.22 – but as far as I can see (and please, correct me if I’m wrong here), that Article does not stipulate what the punishment is for any breach?

    As such, how on earth did the stewards reach the decision that complete disqualification from qualifying was the fair sanction?! By most estimates, a lap’s worth of fuel is worth 0.1 – 0.3 seconds; Lewis was on pole by nearly 0.6 seconds. Also, the underfueling of Hamilton’s car did not affect his first run in Q3 – and it certainly didn’t affect his times in Q1 and Q2.

    The most galling thing is that far worse offences have received much more minor sanctions. Think back to Spa last year where Maldanado was given just a 5 grid place penalty for intentionally crashing into Hamilton . How can failing to complete the slow-down lap be deemed more serious than intentionally making contact with a competitor’s car?

    It’s this disproportionate application of punishments which really damages the sport – this isn’t the only example either, think about McLaren getting a $100m fine for copying elements of Ferrari’s design compared to Renault receiving a suspended disqualification for instructing one of their drivers to crash.

    All fans and competitors in any sport ask is that decisions are transparent, fair and proportionate. F1 continually fails on nearly all of these counts.

    • Ed Marques (@edmarques) said on 12th May 2012, 20:31

      Brilliant statement.

    • Karthikeyan (@ridiculous) said on 12th May 2012, 20:36

      If you will turn a blind eye to,
      1) Exploiting the rule which was put forth for the very offense of the very team(repeat offence Canada 2010)
      2) Lie to reporters about a non-existent car issue not related to fuel
      3) Take the lie to stewards(repeat offence Australia 2009)
      then yes, you are right @bpacman

      • bpacman (@bpacman) said on 12th May 2012, 20:51

        (1) When Hamilton failed to return to the pits in Montreal in 2010, this wasn’t in contravention of any rule in place at the time. As such, I fail to see how it’s relevant here – it’s not a repeat offence? All because the rules have changed now does not deem what happened in Canada 2010 to have been a contravention of the rules too. You can’t punish someone for doing something that wasn’t an offence at the time?!
        (2) Please include a link to the part of the FiA rules where it states that you have to tell reporters the truth. Also, I haven’t seen it since but I’m pretty sure Whitmarsh was noncommittal on what caused Hamilton to stop – he said they’d have to look at the data to find out?
        (3) Read the statement properly – the stewards never concluded that McLaren lied. They simply didn’t accept McLaren’s contention that a team member failing to put the right amount of fuel in the car was force majeuere. McLaren never told the stewards that there was a problem with the car, they put forward their contention (i.e. that a team member putting the wrong amount of fuel in was force majeure) and the stewards didn’t accept it. If putting forward your side of the case amounts to lying, every barrister in this country is a liar.

    • Aleksandr Nausedas (@) said on 12th May 2012, 20:36

      Well, as stewards declared on their official post, because Ham’s vehicle couldn’t reach stewards for checkup, they were unavailable to take a fuel sample from Ham’s formula thus influencing DSQ from quali as they contained no evidence of everything being correct or normal throughout all sessions, thus this DSQ is totally explainable why he was punished by 24 positions, even though I think it should have been a fine given to team and none punishment done for the driver as it wasn’t his fault! Hope I manage to answer your question..

      • bpacman (@bpacman) said on 12th May 2012, 21:00

        @alexsandr Could you please quote the part of the stewards’ statement where they say they couldn’t take a sample from Hamilton’s car?
        As I read it, they punishing him for failing to return to the pits under his own power.
        As the statement does not mention that Hamilton did not provide a sample of fuel, I’m assuming that he did and that they found nothing wrong with it.
        Also, Ted Kravitz tweeted that there was 1.5 litres of fuel in Hamilton’s car when he stopped and the stewards required 1 litre of this for their testing.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th May 2012, 21:56


      Think back to Spa last year where Maldanado was given just a 5 grid place penalty for intentionally crashing into Hamilton .

      I agree that punishment was too lenient, but that doesn’t make this one too harsh.

      • bpacman (@bpacman) said on 12th May 2012, 22:43

        @keithcollantine I take your point but how do you judge if a decision is harsh? You do so by comparing it to past decisions.

        The sanction applied to Hamilton would suggest that this infraction is of the same seriousness as Schumacher parking his car in the middle of Rascasse in 2006 and significantly more serious than Maldanado’s deliberate contact with Hamilton last year at Spa.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th May 2012, 22:47

          @bpacman True but equally you shouldn’t let past bad decisions become an excuse for making more bad decisions.

          • bpacman (@bpacman) said on 12th May 2012, 22:54

            @keithcollantine I completely agree. Even judged in isolation though, I’d say that this decision is harsh. Short of preventing Hamilton from racing tomorrow, the stewards couldn’t have applied a harsher penalty. For me, that kind of penalty should be reserved for the most serious offences – such as driving that endangers competitors/stewards – not failing to complete the slow-down lap under your own power.

            What’s your opinion Keith – do you think this was an appropriate penalty?

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th May 2012, 23:19

            @bpacman Not made my mind up yet. Will comment or write an article when I do. Preoccupied with pre-race analysis and round-up at the moment.

  7. mark (@markp) said on 12th May 2012, 20:26

    In the last race we had the Rosberg incidents and after discussions there will be no zero tolerence applied as circumstances are different. With this if Hamilton got pole by a tenth then this would have made a difference but he gained a tenth at most and was on pole by 7 tenths. Stewards should take this into account.

    Thing with Mclaren is they lie alot, spygate, Australia 2008 and they have done what happened today before. Cheats do not prospor hence 1 constructors title in 20 years.

  8. gingerbyte said on 12th May 2012, 20:33

    Lewis has had fueling problems in under a year…in singapore he cudnt go out for a second run in Q3 becoz the pump guy was pumping fuel out instead of in..n nw this..this is craizy..heads shoud roll

  9. Kiiza said on 12th May 2012, 20:34

    Face it. Mclaren was trying toi cheat and got caught. Period.

    • Simon999 (@simon999) said on 12th May 2012, 20:43

      No, I think it’s just incompetence on this occasion. It was clear he had an edge over the field throughout qualifying. No need to deliberately under-fuel the car to gain half-a-tenth, especially given the high possibility they’d be caught.

      It also fits McLaren’s behaviour so far this season – a lot of small mistakes that have ended up being very costly.

  10. Fandangio (@fandangio) said on 12th May 2012, 20:38

    Can someone please tell me if this has ever been applied to drivers finishing the race with a shortage of fuel. I can’t remember anyone getting penalised.

    Surely not carrying enough fuel for 72 laps give more time advantage than for 3!

    • Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 12th May 2012, 23:09

      I remember cars being disqualified after races for being underweight. Prost just made it past the chequered flag at Imola in 1985 before he ran out of fuel, but he was later thrown out. Not quite the same thing (the stewards’ statement doesn’t say Hamilton’s car was underweight, and it sounds like the rule he broke only applies to qualifying).

      The FIA has thrown the book at anyone they believe is trying to run light – as you say, it’s got to be a big advantage. The BAR team was banned for two races in 2005, and the Tyrrell team had all its 1984 results wiped. Admittedly they were trying things which were illegal – and although the intent today was not the same, you could say that compared to those, McLaren have got off lightly.

  11. chris (@9chris9) said on 12th May 2012, 20:38

    Do the FIA publish the weight/volume of fuel remaining in vehicles? i’d love to know how much fuel he did actually have. I’d also like to know weights and fuel for all cars after qualify and before and after each race.
    We have to question why Hamilton always gets the harsh decisions from the F1/FIA officials around the world.
    Also why he gets terrible service from the team when Ron isn’t about.

    Lewis going to Ferrari would be great PR all-round when it happens.

  12. Tony M (@tango11) said on 12th May 2012, 20:42

    Have a feeling that Hamilton will win tomorrow….. then dedicate it to the stewards for their applying a punishment consistent with the error.

  13. Nigel Bates (@nigel1) said on 12th May 2012, 20:42

    In Hamilton’s position, I’d seriously consider not racing tomorrow.

    With the difficulty of passing on the Barcelona track, the likelihood of scoring points is fairly low, and if you can sit out qualifying to save your tyres, why not sit out a race to save your engine and gearbox ?

    Or would that attract another penalty ?

    • PaulHanson said on 12th May 2012, 21:21

      Absolutely my opinion too. Hamilton should do a quick lap or two then pull in to save an engine and box. Makes more sense in the strategic races we now have to watch. Won’t help the spectacle of F1 but they really don’t deserve it.

  14. zicasso (@zicasso) said on 12th May 2012, 20:43

    Congratulation to Pastor for a great lap and Sir William! Now it’s all open for Fernado to win the race.
    Once again Mclaren have done the impossible, swim against the current. This is crazy!!!

  15. I’m sick & tired of the stewards harshness towards Hamilton. It seems one rule for Lewis & another for the rest of the grid. I’m in two minds now wether to cancel SKY Sports & not follow F1 anymore & I’m a massive massive fan. It wouldn’t be so bad if they handed out punishments pro rata to other drivers. But they don’t. They all get away with stuff but Hamilton puts a foot wrong they throw the book at him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lewis left F1 all together. I agree rules are rules but penalties should be consistent from 1 drive to another & while this is obviously far too harsh other drivers penalties are to lean. Maybe it’s a time to have a rethink how the stewards are elected.

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