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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. andae23 (@andae23) said on 3rd November 2012, 18:59

    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.

    • Dion (@infinitygc) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:03

      Unless they’ll say he only got back in the points because of his car… Oh well, at least he can (hopefully) show he can overtake!

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:10

      @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.

      • andae23 (@andae23) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:15

        @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.

        • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:29

          @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.

          • andae23 (@andae23) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:38

            @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.

            http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2012/05/12/hamilton-penalty-hands-maldonado-pole-postion/

            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??

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:42

            @andae23

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

            I don’t follow your logic here. Why would Vettel having 150ml more fuel in the car mean the stewards would not accept he stopped due to force majeure?

          • andae23 (@andae23) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:51

            @keithcollantine In that case, it would have been identical to Hamilton’s incident in Spain (I think… could be wrong though). So, if the FIA is unbiased, Vettel would have got the same penalty as Hamilton.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:59

            @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.

          • andae23 (@andae23) said on 3rd November 2012, 20:05

            @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.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd November 2012, 20:22

            @andae23

            But it now seems like inconsistency then: why did they accept Red Bull’s explanation for force majeure, but not McLaren’s?

            Presumably the explanations were different.

            McLaren said they underfuelled the car. It seems Red Bull are saying they had enough fuel in the car, but didn’t realise they couldn’t get it all out while still conforming to the rules.

          • andae23 (@andae23) said on 3rd November 2012, 20:24

            @keithcollantine not sure if I fully understand this, but still thanks for the clarification!

          • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 3rd November 2012, 20:36

            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.

          • andae23 (@andae23) said on 3rd November 2012, 20:40

            This is getting more complicated by the minute…

          • @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 ?

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th November 2012, 7:36

            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?

    • Nickpkr said on 3rd November 2012, 20:04

      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.

    • Kimi4WDC said on 3rd November 2012, 23:35

      Are you serious? He did do so plenty of times this season.

      It’s time for Alonso to show hes not going to choke, again.

  4. DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 3rd November 2012, 18:59

    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.

    • Ivan B (@njoydesign) said on 4th November 2012, 2:19

      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

  5. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:01

    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.

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:31

      @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.

  6. KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:02

    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?

    • caci99 (@caci99) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:28

      @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.

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:30

        Hmm, interesting theory.

      • AldoG said on 3rd November 2012, 20:33

        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.

    • 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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:43

      @kaiie

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

      That’s what I reckon.

      • infernojim (@infernojim) said on 3rd November 2012, 20:26

        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.

        • Palle (@palle) said on 3rd November 2012, 21:25

          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.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 3rd November 2012, 21:50

        @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?

    • 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…

  7. Castor (@castor) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:03

    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.

    • 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.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th November 2012, 7:44

        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 :-)

        • 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??

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th November 2012, 11:53

            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?

    • Metallion (@metallion) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:15

      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.

  8. Kart King said on 3rd November 2012, 19:04

    FIA giving ferrari a helping hand once again!

  9. Guilherme (@guilherme) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:04

    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.

    • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 3rd November 2012, 21:37

      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.

      • Guilherme (@guilherme) said on 3rd November 2012, 22:29

        @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.

        • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 4th November 2012, 5:27

          @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.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th November 2012, 7:46

        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!

  10. carbon_fibre (@carbon_fibre) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:04

    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.

  11. mrGuy said on 3rd November 2012, 19:05

    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?

    • Estesark (@estesark) said on 4th November 2012, 0:06

      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.

  12. 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!!

  13. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:09

    Insufficient fuel. What took so long?

  14. 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!

  15. glue (@glue) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:16

    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.

    • OOliver said on 3rd November 2012, 20:16

      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.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 3rd November 2012, 21:56

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

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