Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Barcelona, 2012

Hamilton penalty hands Maldonado first pole position

2012 Spanish Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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578 comments on “Hamilton penalty hands Maldonado first pole position”

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  1. so this season we have learned;

    1. you can drive people off the track
    2. you can over-take while being off the track
    3. but if you run low on fuel, you get D/Q’d

    Can’t wait what the rest of the season has to offer us for insane rules that make seemingly no sense! :D

    1. kilrcola (@adelaidef1fan)
      13th May 2012, 4:54

      Good points there!

  2. CarnivorousPope (@)
    12th May 2012, 21:53

    Of course the mechanic was noticed by others. It was mentioned during the commentary and on the radio as well.

  3. Oh dear, another individual error costing Mclaren.

    Whilst I accept that perhaps punishment was necessary depending on the exact nature of the mistake, I think the stewards have yet again given out a disproportionate penalty. I don’t believe it was a deliberate decision to underfeul the car, why would it be when they had such a large advantage over the other cars?

    I would have expected the deletion of the lap time(s) on which the car was underfuelled would be a sufficient punishment and deterrent. The worst I’d expect would have been disqualification from Q3 given thats when the breaking of the rules happened but to expel Hamilton from the whole of qualy seems very harsh and disproportionate.

    At least Hamilton still has the fastest car though, and if its as fast in race trim as it was in qualy it’ll be interesting to watch him, Webber and Button hopefully come through the field towards the podium positions at the end of the race.

  4. Does this now mean that any car that completes the race and is unable to get back to the pits is disqualified? As this has happened lots of times. As the rules state “Competitors must ensure that a one litre sample of fuel may be taken from the car at any time during the event. Seems to me that the rule book only comes out when Lewis is involved. This sport can be as frustrating as boxing sometimes!

  5. This is a disgustingly unfair decision. Back of the grid? For f. sake. What is it with the FIA? They finally saw Hamilton grinning broadly for the first time in months and thought, “Well, we can’t have this”.

    Whatever feelings of persecution Lewis may have been able to banish through strength of mind, they’ll be back in full force now.

    1. Just read the end-of-qualifying report and saw that Keith saw this coming. But, Keith, isn’t it way over the top to be dropped down the entire grid? After all, HAM got similar times in Q1 and Q2 with enough fuel to get back to the pits. Surely this should be taken into consideration?

      1. CarnivorousPope (@)
        12th May 2012, 22:23

        Indeed. The decision was unfair in proportion to the advantage but rules are rules. :/

        1. But do the rules specify this exact penalty?

          1. I think Mclaren got this level of punishment because Whitmarsh tried to pretend like they didnt know what was wrong with Lewis’ car when it is now known they sent the car out -knowing- it didnt have enough fuel

          2. I agree the fact whitmarsh pretended they didn’t have an explanation for the issue may have been taken into account… But I certainly don’t think they sent the car out ‘knowing’ it didn’t have enough fuel, why on earth would you do that? Given the potential penalty which can be deployed in such an instance… This is obviously an error in calculation, judgement or equipment when fuelling the car for Q3… and looking at the telemetary on the inlap noticed there wasn’t enough fuel..

  6. Interesting…the stewards decided not to weigh a fine on the team this time! As per the rules…the final word is all theirs. Good to know this bit.

  7. Juan Pablo Heidfeld (@juan-pablo-heidfeld-1)
    12th May 2012, 22:20

    What a ridiculous decision

  8. Chris G (@billybadger)
    12th May 2012, 22:23

    Gary Anderson sums it up here comment on the left.

  9. Does anyone know if Hamilton could have made it back to the pits using KERS and his 0.3 litres efficiently? I’d have thought the 80Hp Kers and 0.3 litres of fuel should have been enough to coast back at 60mph???

    1. it all depends on where he was on track and he was ordered to stop.
      thing is..was it worth the penalty resulting from not making it to the pits?..or could the penalty be any better or worse had the car made it to the pits only to have less than a litre of fuel for FIA sampling and testing?

      1. I don’t know where he came to a halt, hopefully someone that can recognise each corner might be able to shed some light on this?

        I hope it rains tomorrow and Hamilton can set his car up for it perfectly. Then charge through the field take the win and thank the stewards for penalising him! (never gonna happen though!)

    2. I think the rules forbid them from going that slowly, even if he could have made it on that much fuel.

      1. ahh, Ok thanks Keith!

        1. I believe there is a time limit involved. So theoretically he could have, provided he made it back in time.

  10. Does the regulation specify the penalty or is their discretion involved?

    1. from what i see the penalty is not specified hence the stewards decide according to their own interpretation… i see this as a benchmark rule setting a precedent…but then FIA NEVER is consistent.. they have knee jack reactions to situations that’s why we have new rules every year ..etc etc…

      1. In which case simply saying ‘rules are rules’ is an inadequate response. The penalty is completely disproportionate and it was levied entirely at discretion rather than by rule.

      2. On sky Johnny Herbert (Who has been driver steward a few times) said the stewards have set penalty’s to be applied for specific rule infringements.

        He seemed to suggest the penalty applied was the penalty specified for breaking this specific rule & was totally unsurprised by the severity of the penalty.

        1. I figured as much, but the FIA would serve themselves much better by stating that in their releases. 80% of the outrage everyone is having is over the severity of the penalty and the perception that it was decided subjectively.

        2. If Herbert was on the panel, he would have found a way to pin this on Massa

  11. Looking on bright sight,if Shcum can finish at P10 from P22 at bahrain..
    lets see if lewis can do the same at P24..

    1. not an easy task judging from history..all the drivers like Massa will do everything to ensure Hamilton does not pass …the best thing to probably happen is a pile up…and safety car.. in am praying…

  12. I do feel sorry for Lewis, through no fault of his own he is going to miss what looked like an excellent opportunity to win his first race of the season.

    As mentioned by many previously the penalty seems extraordinarily harsh when being a lap of fuel light over a whole 50 lap race is deemed to be less of an advantage than being light for just a single lap of qualifying. Especially when actively blocking an opponent to prevent them from completing a faster lap than yours would in theory only result in a 10 place grid penalty.

    As unsavoury as the idea is however, what would have happened if Hamilton had done a Bruno Senna, left his car beached in the gravel but with the crucial amount of fuel still in the tank. In that case it would surely just go down as driver error and no-one would look at whether or not he had enough fuel to get back to the pits and still have a sample.

    The whole thing is another unlucky break for Hamilton, he seems to have really pulled himself together this season and has looked incredibly quick when he has had the car under him, only to be let down by a string of unfortunate or ridiculous mistakes by the team.

  13. Kimi, that is all
    Kimi will win the race with Alonso second and Grosjean third
    Shame i couldnt predict this but then again who could!

    1. kimmi is my second best liking after Hamilton who is my best.
      i hope he wins as well. but Alonzo is hard to beat this time at home.
      if Hamilton makes it to points place… i will be more than happy. i hope he does not adopt that do or die attitude like in 2009 when he crushed out? at same circuit? not sure which year..

      1. If you mean where he crashed out on the second-last lap, that was not his fault. He had a wheel-rim failure, causing a deflation of the tyre.

  14. A real shame for Lewis. Unfortunately he who is perhaps least responsible is the one who is penalised the most. Perhaps if I were quick to react I would suggest that the team should be punished by way it deducting points from the constructor championship, however, that’s just ugliness waiting to happen.

    It’s not like he even has fresh tyres to ease the burden, poor guy!

  15. Actually in hindsight Hamilton did not have to go for that pole lap. he could have just let go and started from second row … that he has met a draconian punishment for doing what he does best..

  16. I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Hamilton did not qualify according to the rules, therefore all his times from qualifying are thrown out. The stewards very nicely allowed him to race, just like the HRT that did not meet the 107% rule, but from the back of the grid.

    The McLaren team made a serious mistake, they knew it (in fact McLaren caused the rule to be written in the first place, not too long ago), then they tried to weasel their way out. For goodness sake, “force majeure” means unavoidable – they could have easily avoided this but putting less than half a gallon more fuel in and adding maybe a tenth of a second to his time — then he would still easily have been on pole.

  17. Can anyone explain me:

    Why Hamilton was penalised for not returning to pits on his own wheels after qualifying while it seems to be completely legal and often seen after races? Are the rules different for both quali and race in this case?

    1. Read the last nine pages of comments.

      1. Just read the first pages first few comments. Better yet read the article.

  18. could Hamilton have spun out in the first corner , stall the engine , and toe back to the garage , nobody would have gave it a second thought?

    1. Nick.UK (@)
      12th May 2012, 23:21

      @nerf Pretty sure Schumacher got caught out trying that ol’d trick…

    2. But he would have done it after crossing the finish line and not on a hot lap. Then there would be 350 comments on this forum about how Hamilton cheated (or not).

  19. I suspect a conspiracy between McLaren and Keith Collantine. Every time HAM or the team screw up theres a heap of traffic on the F1F site. More traffic, more revenue for Keith :)

    Or it could just be another c**k up by the team. Either way I’m looking forawrd to seeing Ham sythe through the field…and I’m not a fan.

    1. Nice one.

    2. Nick.UK (@)
      12th May 2012, 23:39

      They should take this opportunity to alter the set up and make sure he has a high 7th gear to fully utilise the DRS (obviously they can make changes in parc ferme penalty free given they are in last already). If they don’t do this and he’s is bouncing off the limiter in 15th unable to gain positions. It will only cause further frustration. I hope he makes it to 10th at least. But at this circuit… hmmm. One can only hope :(

      1. To make it to tenth he has to pass or overtake at least five seven cars before the first lap is over, then undercut by brilliant pitting during tyre change to gain more spaces..

  20. Im sorry but the FIA are a joke. They fall back to often on team and drivers agreements and amend their “rules & regulations” only when they see fit. Which tends to happen after Hamilton has done something they do not like. No why is it they do not make rules clear on practice sessions qualifying sessions and the actual race.

    Now if those teams in Bahrain managed to stop after the line of the race then why is Hamilton punished in qualifying? And why so harshly. I agree if he is going to be punished wipe his fastest lap from the timing sheets don’t send him to the back of the grid and not let him have the option of new tyres.

    But at the same time I do feel that although the mechanic putting the fuel in has made a mistake, I don’t see why McLaren fabricated that it wasn’t there fault. If they had kept him in the pits a few more seconds to make up for his lose of fuel he would have still crossed the line time left for a flying lap. In this instance Hamilton has had to pay the price for Mclarens mistake again.

    I am a fan of Mclaren and of Hamilton and Button I am scratching my head at why they are messing up these golden moments they have.

    Nuff said.

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