Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2012

Vettel sent to back of grid for qualifying infringement

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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”

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  1. Could someone explain what this means: “The stewards accepted the explanation and considered the incident as being a case of force majeure.”
    So, if there had been enough fuel left for the sample, there wouldn’t have been a penalty?

    1. @kaiie I was thinking of that too. What might have happened, in my opinion, is that RB found out were short on fuel. So decided to make it looked like some other problem, hence the call from Renault to stop. They presented the telemetry data and the stewards bought it. Only after that the stewards found that Vettel’s car was short on fuel. A bit of speculation here, but it looks like a comfortable coincidence for RB to have a force major and being short on fuel as well, trying to cover the shortage of fuel by that other technical problem.

      1. Hmm, interesting theory.

      2. my thoughts exactly. Don’t understand why people keep talking about a “mistake” really. To me it seems obvious they were walking the fine line to put Vettel on front line but the play didn’t work. If they were cheating (as the officials seems to believe…) the it was shameful, a real disgrace for F1.

    2. NO.
      The first question is why you stop? You should provide a reason why you stop…this reason should be verified by the FIA and accepted as a reason to cause a force majeure to stop in track (imagine that everyone stop in track in the end of quali with any reason)…
      Second question this reason my end up in a penallty? in this case yes.

    3. @kaiie

      So, if there had been enough fuel left for the sample, there wouldn’t have been a penalty?

      That’s what I reckon.

      1. I disagree with this Keith. Surely if they had exactly 1l of fuel and stopped under force majeur then fia would project fuel required to return to the pits and given that would know he’d still have less than 1l left by time they get back to the pits.

        Stopping under force majeur (unless its due to a fuel leak?!?) shouldn’t make the fuel level in the car irrelevant – that would be stupid.

        1. Or if the Force Majeure was a developing error in the engine causing it to self destruct maybe before the end of the lap. What if this developing error also caused the engine to spend too much fuel – what if RBR actually fuelled it correctly before the final stint, but the engine error caused it to use more than normal? If FIA acknowledged it was a Force Majeure, then evidence must be present which supports that it actually is a technical problem. If this is true then this technical problem could cause – among other things – that the engine uses more fuel. This is not uncommon on our normal road cars also.

      2. @keithcollantine, It is possible that a fuel injector jammed open, I have had this problem a couple of times with Lucas fuel injection, the result is you use 2-3 times as much fuel and you risk total (unintended pun) engine destruction from hydraulic lock as well as oil dilution. Such as situation could explain why it took 6 hrs to reach a verdict, also Bernie might love Vettel but he loves a last race title fight even more, of course the stewards would not be swayed by anyone,right?

    4. Or it might just be the stewarts taking the **** as an answer to the engine mapping story from Germany, where they didn’t accept RBR’s justification, but had to accept they were conforming to the letter of the rule. This time, they officially accept the explaination, but apply the rule to the letter…

  2. The rules are clear, so no point if saying if it was the correct decision. What I find absurd is the rule/penalty itself. It is a team, not a driver, error so the team should be the one penalised. How? fine them or take away the points from the race for the constructors championship. FIA should really rethink the penalty for this rule.

    1. The penalty is harsh and probably could do with looking at, but it’s a team sport & the driver’s part of that team. If anything else goes wrong – mechanical failure, pitstop error, driver mistake etc. – driver & team suffer together and I don’t think penalties should be any different.

      1. Well written @gwan, its a team sport, without the great car provided by the team Vettel would hardly be winning as much! And its the same penalty most of us already found overly harsh in Barcelone when Hamilton got it.

        Personally I find starting in 10th (for making it through to q3, i.e. taking away their time set in the given part of qualifying) would be enough of a penalty in such . Even though this time it comes quite handy to give the WDC fight a bit of new energy :-)

        1. Thanks @bascb, yes I think starting in 10th would be fair. But yes, looking forward to the race a lot more it must be said!

          Plus, can you imagine if your favourite driver’s main title rival got on pole by a couple of hundredths, was found to be low on fuel… and the team got a FINE??

          1. can you imagine if your favourite driver’s main title rival got on pole by a couple of hundredths, was found to be low on fuel… and the team got a FINE??

            I bet most would be calling for a harsher penalty then @gwan!
            I bet top teams would love to pay such a fine if it helped them to pole, after all how much can FIA throw at the likes of Ferrari or RBR before it starts being something that deters them?

    2. Absolutely agree with @gwan a team includes the driver, they’re not separate entities. If the team underfuels the car, the driver gains an advantage from it and thus the driver should also be penalised for it.

  3. FIA giving ferrari a helping hand once again!

    1. They have indeed done this in the past. However this was pretty consistent decision with Hamilton’s punishment so what else were the fiat supposed to do?

      1. Fiat was supposed to be fia. .. not a dig at Ferrari

    2. Here we go…

    3. i didnt know FIA fueled vettels car?

  4. I’m a disappointed on Red Bull for making such a blunder, but the ruling was only fair (in a sense of consistency, because both Vettel’s and Hamilton’s penalties were too harsh in my opinion). Lewis made it into the points in Barcelona, and I’m confident Sebastian will too tomorrow.

    1. Difference is, of course, that Hamilton is more of a racer and had a car capable of racing wheel-to-wheel. Vettel’s Red Bull is designed to win from the front. If he’s not at the front, he struggles.

      1. @pielighter I think Vettel already demonstrated he can race, as he did in Spa, and who knows what Red Bull will do with that car now that it’s out of the parc-ferme.

        But greatest obstacle, I think, will be the track.

        1. @guilherme That was with far superior downforce though – you notice he never made passes in the FFW zone?
          At Abu Dhabi the ONLY place to overtake is in the FFW zones, unless you’re Lewis Hamilton and you overtake anywhere and everywhere.

      2. It depends a bit on what exactly was the matter with Vettel’s car in the first place off course. But I think that RBR starting from the pitlane at least gives them the opportunity to rebuild the car into as much of an overtaking monster as Newey can come up with given the parts at hand or quickly flown in from the UK!

  5. Haha!! I really doubt Vettel will achieve much tomorrow considering his dreadful top speed! The best he can do, is to get stuck behind Massa.

    1. I’m afraid he would struggle to pass Sauber and Mercedes or Force India.

      1. He is not Alonso, he will be fine.

        1. or They’re not Petrov? :D

  6. Since nobody else has said it, I’ll be the first. Mark Webber or Lewis Hamilton for 2012 World Champion! There’s still a mathematical chance, right?

    1. Yes, I posted about their chances in the forum the other day. Basically, they each need to win the race and hope that Vettel and Alonso don’t score more than a certain number of points. For example, if tomorrow’s podium is Hamilton-Webber-Räikkönen, with Vettel not scoring, Hamilton will still (in theory) be in the hunt, while Webber will not be.

  7. Well, there is the shuffle in the title fight some were requesting. Can’t wait to watch tomorrow. Can’t wait to fly to Texas soon!!

  8. Insufficient fuel. What took so long?

    1. @atticus-2 Fair question. Hard to see why this should’ve taken as long as it did.

      1. I read somewhere that they had to stop the scrutineering because Charlie had a ‘dinner date’.

  9. Well, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions just yet but, in contrast to Korea and India, Abu Dhabi is shaping up into quite the interesting little GP.

    A stellar Hamilton, Maldonado up there, Vettel at the back, Alonso sort of in contention but struggling and in need to take as many points as possible off Vettel, both Lotuses in contention, Rosberg up there and all quite level in the midfield.

    That. Grid. Looks. Brilliant. I’m already hyped for tomorrow!

  10. Q: Sebastian, you stopped out on track at the end of qualifying. Why? Was it an engine problem or low fuel?
    Sebastian Vettel: Neither. We will have to find out what happened. I was told over the team radio to come back to the pits as fast as I could, which doesn’t suggest the issue was low fuel. You wouldn’t say something like that if there was a risk of being on the limit.

    1. During the conference, when Vettel was asked why he stopped, he started answering the hesitated and laughed, and immediately I knew it was a fuel issue. I was just waiting to see how the FIA would have handled it after the similar Hamilton issue at Barcelona.

    2. @glue, you would if you thought you could make it back, refuel and do another outlap before scrutineering

  11. The red bulls straight line speed will now be a concern for Vettel. Maldonado looks like he could have a strong race with his straight line spped.

    1. They plan to start from the pitlane and I’m sure they will change the setup of the car, optimise the car for using DRS and increased top speed.

      1. The thing is, there was a reason Vettel’s car was set for higher downforce. It worked better. With some adjustments he can probably get a boost when it comes to overtake, but his laptimes will be worse. It’s a hard call.

        1. Exactly. RBs strongest point is downforce and traction on slow parts of the circuit. Higher speed might take him quicker to midfield but from then it will be tough. Aiming for max 2 points. Praying for Maldonado doing his thing in curve 1

        2. One positive is, that the car is using a LOT of DRS, so if Vettel can use that today, it might help. And who knows, maybe RBR will be flying in part from the UK they have in stock to make the car a mean overtaking machine, I imagine Newey has been thinking about how to do that all afternoon!

  12. This is it!! seize the chance Vettel! Prove that u are worthy of a title…the track is not easy to overtake but with his fast car,if he does that should silence his critic! For Hulkenberg….he would be the one most affected by this shift in the grid positions as he now has to sacrifice his tire option flexibility !!

    1. @akshay No he doesn’t, he didn’t do a lap in Q3 so he can use whatever he likes.

      1. @george Then he is in the best position!!

        1. @akshay Yep, his car is slower than everyone in front though ;)

          1. @george I have to admit you made me laugh laugh:D

  13. What a fortuitous circumstance, just as Alonso looks out of the championship this happens…

  14. If Schumacher gets only 10 place grid penalty for 2010 Hungary mad act against Rubens, then this penalty for Vettlel is ridiculously harsh.

    1. Really????? They are not related by far. Sure the penalty is harsh but those are the rules.

    2. It’s harsh but it is consistent (for once).

  15. Does vettel still have to start on the tyres he set his quickest lap or is he free to use fresh tyres?

    1. No he is obligated to start with the same tyres without no change on the car.

    2. I don’t know for sure, but I guess that he doesn’t have to use the tyres of Q3. I mean, he can’t start behind his current position.

      That makes me think… Can he change the engine and the gearbox too?

      1. IMO he can change the engine, if its not the 9th, no penalty. But gearbox he’d penalised with 5Ps next race

  16. Why is fuel in F1 measured in liters by the way? I’d think kilos (like they do in WEC) would be a lot better for measurement, since mass isn’t affected by temperature. Does anyone here agree?

    1. @infinitygc the teams do work in kilos, I guess that the FIA uses litres as its purposes are different to the teams.

      1. okay, thanks for telling me!

        1. Mass may not be affected by temperature, but it does affect volume. One kg of water is a bigger volume than a kg of petrol because of the difference in molecular weights.

          1. Isn’t a kilo of Petrol actually bigger, because of its lower density?

  17. Alonso’s horror day turns into an opportunity of a lifetime!

    1. im a Ferrari fan…but the race is tomorrow Alonso had the pace to gain the race or at least to be second we will see

  18. At least it is not as painful as it was for HAM cos he placed his car on pole unlike VET.

  19. Whilst this is a bad for Vettel and good for Alonso, its important that people keep to reality here. Yes, it gives Alonso an advantage, but he still needs to finish the race and get good points. He is still 13 points behind Vettel, so he needs a great result (if not a win) to really make Vettel sweat. And theres still 2 races to go after this.

    1. Not clear RB circuits US (uncertain) and Brasil as Abu Dahbi and India are. FA had to survive this race to keep options, now he has a great opportunity. And he is an expert in taking the max out of everty little opportunity, specially this seasson

  20. I think it’s pretty harsh, afterall Mclaren and Hamilton had previous to the Spain incident (Canada 2010), but RedBull have never done it before.

    Nevertheless, it sets up an interesting prospect for the race tomorrow.

    1. For the first McLaren incident the rule was not the same. Also as McLaren had been given this penalty before then all other teams now know the consequences.

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