Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2012

Vettel sent to back of grid for qualifying infringement

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2012Sebastian Vettel has been sent to the back of the grid for stopping on the track after qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The FIA stewards were unable to extract a sufficient quantity of fuel from Vettel’s car for testing after he stopped.

“The stewards received a report from the race director that car one failed to return to the pits under its own power as required under Article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations,” they said in a statement.

“The stewards heard from the driver and team representatives and studied telemetry evidence that showed the reason why the car was stopped. The stewards accepted the explanation and considered the incident as being a case of force majeure.

“However a report was received from the technical delegate that showed during post-qualifying scrutineering an insufficient quantity of fuel for sampling purposes.

“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.”

Christian Horner said: “During the slow-down lap following the final run of Q3, Renault instructed to immediately stop Sebastian’s car on the circuit due to an issue with the fuel system.

“After speaking with the stewards, who accepted the situation of force majeure for technical reasons for the car to be stopped, unfortunately, for reasons yet to be fully understood, 850ml of the required one litre was pumped out of the car following post race checks.

“As a result, the FIA has excluded Sebastian from qualifying and we will withdraw the car from parc ferme in order to investigate further. Therefore Sebastian will start from the pit lane for tomorrow’s race. We will need to make the most of Mark’s strong front-row grid position and Sebastian will have a busy evening ahead of him.”

Vettel added: “One of the best ski jumpers of all times once said ‘Every chance is an opportunity and as far as we are concerned there are still plenty of chances tomorrow’.”

The stewards also decided against penalising Sergio Perez for impeding Bruno Senna during Q1. The Sauber driver received a reprimand for the incident, following which both drivers progressed to Q2.

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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255 comments on “Vettel sent to back of grid for qualifying infringement”

      1. I don’t think he would have been fine, it would have been quite obvious that he wouldn’t have had “enough fuel on board in order to be driven back to the pits under its own power and in addition to this that a one litre fuel sample may be taken” even at the start of the in lap.

        1. @disjunto Agreed.
          I don’t know what really happened, but my understanding is that some part failed on his car, they stopped him, and the stewards accepted the failure as force majeure. That covered the stopping, but it didn’t save him from the fact he had less fuel on board than needed to get to the pits. Is this correct?

          1. Thats what I understand it as being, yes, there were two seperate issues here, the stopping on the track and the 1L fuel sample, the stewards agreed force majeure for the stopping. However nothing can be done about the lack of fuel, which is why the penalty was applied.

          1. Keith, disjunto is quoting your article! Second paragraph: “The stewards’ report said: “It was checked whether car number 01 had enough fuel on board in order to be driven back to the pits under its own power and in addition to this that a one litre fuel sample may be taken.”

          2. @bobsta That’s not the smartest question I’ve ever asked! Sorry @disjunto I thought it was written in the rules somewhere and was looking for it there.

            With Red Bull now saying there was further fuel in the car, which couldn’t be accessed under the framing of the rules, I guess the question now is whether that would have been enough to get the car back to pits plus 150ml.

            He pulled over after turn 18, so he didn’t have far to go.

          3. it doesn’t really matter if there is extra fuel in the car because they couldn’t access it without taking bodywork off and thus couldn’t get 1 liter out of the car.

            I think it is harsh from a driving-fairness point of view, because he did qualify third and probably didn’t gain an advantage at all because the fuel was in there. However everyone knows the rules, this one at least is clearly written, and his car was the only car to have this problem.

      2. But its consistant! If they didnt send him to the back there would be outrage from all quarters (probably Ferrari being the loudest!)

        Harsh, maybe, but its making tomorrow more interesting.

      3. Yes, of course it’s harsh – but a precedent was set with the Hamilton penalty, and has to be followed (for this season, at least).

        Bottom line is that Red Bull underfuelled the car, and they have less excuse for doing so than did McLaren, being already forewarned of the penalty.

        1. “Bottom line is RBR underfuelled the car” probably so, but still he was slower than Webber who apparently had enough fuel. I hate to suggest it but possibly one or more fuel injectors stuck open resulting in Renault ordering the shut-down to prevent a hydraulic lock engine blow-up, and also less fuel in the tank. I have had this happen on one of my cars which is no surprise as it was a Lucas fi system.

          1. I don’t think pace comes into it. Even if he was 20th he’d need the liter of fuel. If that was it, I’m sure they would have gotten off on exceptional circumstances.

        2. I think the rule should be changed for next season so that any car failing to make it back to the pits under its own power should lose its times from that part of qualifying (e.g. Q3), but not the whole thing. Both this penalty and Hamilton’s earlier in the season seem disproportionate.

    1. If the rules say that, remember when it happened to Lewis, this season, back in…GP. And I also think that some race winners didn’t brought the car to parc ferme… That should also exclude their win or any other point taking position… It’s only logical – if it’s done in Qualy, after the Race, the cars are also checked by the FIA.
      I really hope we have a great end of this season, and since Hamilton can’t be champion, please let it NOT be Alonso… although the other choice isn’t very attractive… The less of both evils…

      1. Talking about ‘parc ferme’….now that vettel has to start from the pits, is he still allowed to change gearbox/engine, with a penalty which of course will be of no significance….but the question is ‘can he?’

    1. Have to reckon that’s consistant and will probably makes the WDC more entertaining until the end of the season.

      But still find this measure out of proportion. Every other lap he did, he was able to rejoin the pit lane so why not just discarding the last attempt, and in the worst case the Q3 but I guess we would never understand the guy writing F1 rules

      1. The thing is, he was able to rejoin the pitlane, but he didn’t. And by not doing it, he couldn’t save the amount of fuel needed to the analisys. It’s not only the case of running a lap with very low fuel, they(FIA) have to ensure all laps were run with a legal fuel.

      1. He already did that at Spa. But this track isnt well renowned for all the amazing overtaking places on it an red bull are slow in a straight line. Look at Spa where Vettel didn’t overtake in the DRS zone at all.

        1. You mean the race where Crashjean took out half the top 10? Where Vettel fell back to P12 by the end of the first lap despite the carnage? Where he reached to P6, got stuck and just one stopped up to P2 when everyone else two stopped? Where even Massa from P14 managed P5 and both Toro Rosso scored points? Yeah… phenomenal racer your boy Vettel.

        2. @Theo1 – I think it was a great race, considering he made up 10 places in a car which wasn’t much better than 10th on the grid in terms of pace that weekend. @brny666 I know, I’m hoping so to well and truly silence people such as Theo1!

          1. well he’s got the equipment to do so at his disposal. Personally i hope he gets blocked by Karthikeyan quite badly and then calls him a cucumber after the race xD

    1. @vettel1 I think the worst bit is that he used all his tyres to get where he was. So it’s a double-kick in the nuts.

      Hamilton got up to 8th in Barcelona. I can’t see Vettel getting much further up the road tomorrow. It’s Alonso’s one and only chance !

      So exciting !

      1. mate you cant underestimate the unpredictability of pastor so up in the grid if there a crash at the top of the grid by any of the first lap nutcase,i can bet vettel can then finish up much higher then we would have thought.Hope narain has not taken the “cucumber” comment seriously coz he starting next to vettel

      1. @eggry – I was replying to your comment about Red Bull’s chances in the race! Yes it will be difficult but the car has pace (as his time suggests) so hopefully he will be able to get past the back-markers and then maybe jump the midfielders in the pits by running long on the harder compound or something. I’d say 8th is the absolute best Vettel can hope for.

        1. @xjr15jaaag They can change since they broke parc ferme. They said it’s for investigation but setup change is also possible then. I’m not sure wing angle and gear ratios would give them several kph of top speed. They would lose downforce and acceleration due to change and it means Vettel would get slow in lap time. also He should start from pit lane now which is another time penalty.

    2. That’s a huge bonus for Alonso after a poor qualifying slot

      No one told Red Bull to “CHEAT” (as i said before this team is expert in cheating the last case is the fluid variation) but unlike many times this time they got caught ,that’s not “huge bonus” that’s the stewards doing their job (the rule is very clear remember Hamilton in Spain) not favoring Fernando after poor qualifying (what is the relationship between the 2 facts)
      you’re always trying to attack Fernando & Ferrari at every occasion please take a break
      i suspect that you are HELMUT MARKO !!!!!!!!!!!!! lol (with all my respects)

      1. @tifoso1989 – How is this cheating? There was almost no benefit to be gained but a huge penalty to be had. I’m not attacking Alonso at all, 7th isn’t a great qualifying if you’re a championship contender. I’m only stating fact. If Ferrari are slow, I’ll state that Ferrari are slow. If they are fast, then I’ll state that they are fast.

        His only chance now is to start on the mediums and get past the slower cars quickly so he can hopefully get the jump on some of the midfielders. He’s going to have to drive absolutely flat out for the entire race if he’s to salvage someone.

          1. @tifoso1989 – again, how is this cheating? Cheats only cheat for their own benefit, and this was clearly of no benefit to Red Bull. @fer-no65 has said what I have said many, many times – clever thinking is not cheating.

            I don’t even know why you have brought up the subject of cheating as I’m sure Red Bull didn’t intentionally put not enough fuel in the car. And you complain about me attacking Ferrari?

          2. @tifoso1989 what are you on about? I expected nothing, it’s a mistake, not a CHEAT !

            A cheat would be like they didn’t have the 1 litre and still, somehow, they manage to get away with it. But they didn’t. It’s a mistake, and they are paying for it.

            Seriously, what are you on about?

          3. Apparantly, it was a fuel delivery system failure, and for some reason, the fuel has to be removed without removing any body panels, which RBR couldn’t do, hence the fuel delivery error, and they claim that there was sufficient fuel in the tank.
            It is in effect, a flawed rule should what I’ve just written turn out to be correct.

  1. Just don´t understand why it took almost 6 hours to deliberate something like there was only 0.850 l of fuel.
    Where they investigating something else?
    In any case, good for the race and probably for the championship.

      1. So why did it happen so much more quickly with McLaren in Spain? That answer came back very quickly despite the car being the last back to parc ferme.

        McLaren argued that not putting enough fuel was force majure (which it isn’t) but this time Red Bull argued (or tried to blag) it was a problem with the fuel system.

        Of course it was a problem with fuel system, they didn’t put enough in petrol into it.

        Interestingly not nearly as many people accusing Red Bull & Vettel personally of cheating as there was when it happened to Hamilton, despite Red Bull seeming to be disingenuois about the reason for the stop compared to McLaren.

        We’ll see how Vetel gets on tomorrow getting through the field. Maybe with luck we won’t have to listen the Austrian national anthem again.

    1. @pnunocosta

      Just don´t understand why it took almost 6 hours to deliberate something like there was only 0.850 l of fuel.
      Where they investigating something else?

      According to Autosport, Red Bull were called to the stewards straight away, and they initialy accepted the team’s explantion of force majeure – namely, that circumstances beyond their control (though Autosport does not detail what these circumstances were) led to the car stopping on the circuit. However, the stewards once again summoned the team after the cars were inspected and Vettel was found to be short on fuel. The system works in such a way that they test every car before calling upon any and every team they find to be in violation of the regulations, rather than testing one car and conferring with the stewards, then testing the next car and conferring with the stewards and so on and so forth.

      1. LOL .. exactly. If a bad tyre choice can make a track like India dull, I can imagine Abu Dhabi and already fall asleep. The only thing for tomorrow is how Fernando advances and if he can land a podium again while Vettel is out of points.

  2. Huge mistake by Red Bull. Nice to see the stewards be consistent, but the ruling in both cases was stupidly harsh. Disqualify the last lap or Q3 entirely, but having the pilot start last is ridiculous.

      1. “The session they are in” *is* the entirety of qualifying. The rules do not distinguish between Q1, Q2, and Q3. And if they did, you’d have to have long enough of a delay between all of the sessions for scruitineering, which I cannot imagine television companies being particularly enamored of.

        1. Don’t be ridiculous. The scrutineering could still be done at the end of qualy. Nothing would need to change in that regard. I am aware that qualy is all regarded as one event but each session is clearly regarded as separate parts as there are already separate rules for Q3 as there are for Q1 and Q2. So why not make this rule apply to each session individually?

          1. Because the “rule” in question is that Vettel’s RB8 failed scrutineering, and as such, none of his times for that session count. Scrutineering (which includes checking the legality of the fuel each car is running) happens at the end of each session; qualifying is such a session.

    1. I agree, I made this point in Spain. It’s a mistake from the team and not the driver. If they knew he was low on fuel (which they should have) they shouldn’t have sent him out to do a flying lap. I’d rather he be tenth than last.

    2. @olivier42 think it the other way. Imagine the Red Bull is using a weird fuel that gets more power from the engine.

      FIA needs 1 litre of fuel to do all the tests and check if its legal. Vettel ends Q3, and stops the car, so they can’t supply the 1 litre of fuel.

      If they penalize him and set him in 10th place, then it’s also unfair to the others, as he surely competed the whole qualifying with that illegal fuel.

      The best way to do it would be taking 1 litre of fuel after Q1, Q2 and Q3 from all the cars. So if something’s wrong, they can delete the times of that last session the competed in. But that’d be impractical…

      I also think it’s harsh, but if you compare them to other penalties. This is, apparently, the only way to do it. After all, it’s Red Bull’s mistake. Just put some more fuel on the car, and you won’t have this problem.

    3. How can they be absolutely sure he wasn’t under fueled on previous Q , good rule you try to cheat you are out, what happens when they get the best time on first run barely make it to pits change tires and refuel and then pretend couldn’t make better time ……

      1. Seriously you think Red Bull had the intention of cheating? That is ridiculous if you genuinely believe they would do that, when it is a clearly defined rule, intentionally. The penalty is immense as I’m sure Vettel knows all to well.

      1. The last time Pastor was at the sharp end of the grid and the favorite was sent to the back of the grid due to a fuel infringement, Crashonado came of age. Of course he was back to form in the first lap of the next GP.

  3. It’s strange, though. I would have never expected Red Bull to do such a silly mistake, especially after what happened in Spain.
    I’m quite disappointed by them, especially because this mistake might prove very costly for Vettel.

  4. Get in! Quali was already interesting enough, then this :D

    As a (relatively) neutral observer, it might have been interesting to see what Vettel would do from 3rd, but this is definitely good news for the championship. And maybe a chance for Vettel to show he can overtake (within track limitations I suppose). Definitely makes tomorrow’s race worth tuning in for!

    PS am I the only one having trouble posting?

  5. Of course a human mistake, but I do wonder: why didn’t Red Bull think of this earlier? Vettel stopped at 80% of the circuit’s length, so why not immediately when he crossed the line? (by then they knew they were in trouble, right?)

    As a sidenote: Vettel now has the ultimate chance to prove that he’s a worthy champion, simply to prove the anti-Vettels of this world (Hamilton included) wrong.

    1. @andae23 Even by then it was too late, had he stopped just after the line with a full 1l sample the stewards would still have seen that, like Hamilton in Spain, that he was underfueled and put him to the back of the grid.

      Surely Red Bull must have had a sensor issue and not realised the fuel shortage until too late (though that doesn’t explain how they managed to under-fuel in the first place). Given the penalty Hamilton had in Spain they would have realised that it was better to abort the fast lap and come back to the pits then to at least start in the top 10 if they had known about the fuel shortage on the out-lap or early on the flying lap.

      In the case of Hamilton in Spain I guess they realised their mistake earlier but thought it best to just run with it and keep their fingers crossed. Red Bull would have known better.

      1. @jerseyf1 If they could have supplied the fuel sample, he wouldn’t have had the penalty for underfuelling the car. In that case, I don’t know if he would have got the same penalty, or a nicer penalty, but I suspect he would not have been sent to the back of the grid.

        1. @andae23 I disagree. If they had supplied the fuel sample then the the wording of the stewards would have been different, but the outcome the same.

          Looking back at Spain the situation was similar except Hamilton did manage to stop in time to have enough fuel for the sample. At that time the stewards said “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.” He was sent to the back of the grid for this infraction.

          The only difference here is that Vettel didn’t manage to stop in time, but the Hamilton ruling indicates that stopping earlier wouldn’t have saved his bacon.

          1. @jerseyf1 my bad, you’re absolutely right. In Spain, Hamilton did have the 1 litre of fuel, but him stoppig on track was not considered a force majeure by the FIA. Therefore he was sent to the back of the grid.


            So indeed, if Vettel would have stopped earlier, he still got that grid penalty.

            Just a thought: if Vettel would have crashed into a barrier, he would not have been able to return to the pits. This can be seen as a force majeure, so he wouldn’t have been sent to the back of the grid. So… does this mean that he should have crashed into a barrier??

          2. @andae23 In Spain, the FIA did not accept McLaren’s explanation that Hamilton was stopped due to fore majeure.

            Here, the FIA have accepted Red Bull’s explanation that Vettel was stopped due to force majeure.

            Vettel has been excluded due to insufficient fuel. So if he had sufficient fuel, it stands to reason he wouldn’t have been excluded, as the stewards had already accepted he stopped due to force majeure.

          3. @keithcollantine Ok, I missed that then.
            But it now seems like inconsistency then: why did they accept Red Bull’s explanation for force majeure, but not McLaren’s? Both cases involved underfuelled cars, that had to stop on track for the fuel sample regulation.

          4. I had assumed that the force majeure related to something separate to the underfueling. The article @keithcollantine links to also suggests that stopping out on track wasn’t actually due to insufficient fuel since Red Bull claim they think that there was enough fuel but that the FIA did not obtain their sample for some other reason.

            It’s all a bit strange, will be interesting to see if Red Bull give out any more explanation once they’ve looked at the car.

          5. @keithcollantine : So Renault had an epiphany, and realised 80% into the last lap of the 18th qualifying session of the year that they needed to put more fuel in the tank, which apparently they had been doing by accident it since the beginning of the year ?

          6. Hm, that arcticle on the one hand makes it clearer but still leaves some questions unanswered.

            Because if there was only 850 ml that could be extracted, how does that mean they are able to comply? Or is it a case of the rest being in the fuel line towards the engine, some compartments around the engine etc?.

            As far as I understand, if the car did not have enough fuel to finish the lap + 1 litre to hand over for testing it would be contravening the rules. But if it was somewhere else in the car that brings me back memories of the clever solution BAR had (as did Ferrari) and was punished for in 2004.

            Maybe that also makes the wording of the verdict about information received more logical, remember the rumors about RBR using an oil ballast tank? Maybe its fuel ballast too?

    2. Or as Mclaren is a “normal practice”, they do that a lot in first run then refuel properly with last tire change and count on track rubbering for last run, actually how many times have first run been enough ? Well not necessarily so but makes you wonder, the punishment is fair, try to cheat you are out.

  6. As an Alonso fan I can’t say I’m upset but wow, what a colossal cock up by Red Bull they could cost Vettel the championship.

    At least tomorrow we can finally prove or disprove the myth that Vettel cannot race from the back of the grid.

    1. I’m with you on it.
      Tomorrow’s race is going to be good. It will be THE battle between Alonso, starting higher but in slightly underperforming car, and Vettel, having to overtake a lot or trying strategy tricks. I can see Hamilton crushing everyone to 1st, but it won’t matter. For most it will be Vettel vs Alonso, and many other good drivers in the mix.

      I personally want to thank Red Bull for this screw up, they just made the race so much more exciting.

      Can’t wait

  7. What an unbelievably stupid risk to take by Red Bull. They knew Alonso was off the pace.

    I think it will take more than this to turn an Abu Dhabi Grand Prix into the race of the century, but it’ll add a bit of interest. I’m expecting he’ll get stuck in the midfield somewhere, unable to pass anyone. Maybe bag a few points and hold onto his championship lead.

    1. @bullfrog If this was a risk taken intentionally then it was, as you say, unbelievably stupid. For that reason I doubt very much that this was an intentional risk designed to maximise qualifying, there must have been some underlying problem or cock-up.

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