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Hamilton hammered by stewards for fuel issue in qualifying
Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 May 2012   |  7:08 pm GMT  |  538 comments

Lewis Hamilton has been excluded from qualifying by the FIA race stewards in Barcelona. It means that he will have to start tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix from the back of the grid.

Hamilton had 1.3 litres of fuel in the car on his cool down lap when the McLaren team told him to switch off the engine. The rules say that a car must have 0.5 litres for a sample, plus enough to get the car back to the pits, which is around 2.5 litres on this track.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh had said that he felt the team would escape penalty but he was wrong. The stewards will have been mindful of the fact that the rules were revised following a similar incident involving Hamilton in Montreal two seasons ago. Having taken pole he stopped on track with not enough fuel to get back to the pits. McLaren claimed that there were mitigating circumstances due to a technical issue on fuelling in the garage before his final run which left him short of fuel.

Hamilton said late last night, “This is such a disappointment. Today’s qualifying session was one of the best I’ve ever driven – the whole car was just rolling so smoothly – it felt fantastic. The team had done a fantastic job to bring the updates here this weekend – so I want to say a huge thank-you to all the men and women at the MTC for working day and night to get all the new components here this weekend.

“But, on my slowing-down lap, my engineers told me to stop on the track, and I didn’t know why. Later, to hear that I’d been excluded from qualifying, was of course extremely disappointing.
“But, now, looking ahead to tomorrow, I think it’s clear that it’s going to be an incredibly tough race for us. Even so, as always, I’ll never give up and I’ll give it everything I’ve got. It would mean so much to me to get a good result here in Spain: it’s such a pleasure to come here and the support I get is amazing.

“As I always say, and as I always do, whatever grid position I start a Grand Prix from, I’ll always race my heart out.”

How did it happen? My BBC colleague Gary Anderson saw the refuelling and said this, “The fuel rig guy put the rig on, but he had the handle set to drain fuel. He discovered his mistake and switched it to put fuel in the car. But as a result he didn’t put as much fuel in it as he should have. He (Hamilton) went across the start-finish line 20 seconds before the chequered flag but if they had sat in the garage for three or four more seconds to get more fuel in, they still would have had time to cross the line and complete another flying lap. Sometimes I don’t think McLaren think on their feet.”

After the problems with botched pit stops lately this will deal another blow to McLaren’s confidence in the fine details of its operations.

The dramatic move means that Pastor Maldonado starts the race from pole position in the Williams, the team’s first pole since 2010 and the first ever for a Venezuelan driver. The news broke as Williams were celebrating team founder Sir Frank Williams’ 70th birthday in the team’s motorhome, prompting a double celebration.

Spain’s Fernando Alonso starts alongside him on the front row of the grid, with the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen looking set for a very strong result on row two. The Lotus’ long run pace was very strong in Friday practice, while Sauber’s Sergio Perez looks competitive starting 5th on the grid with the Sauber again working well on long runs on both tyre compounds.

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  1. Andy says:

    I can’t see how “a technical issue on fuelling in the garage” could be considered a mitigating factor, since McLaren had plenty of time to pull Hamilton into the pits rather than let him run out of fuel on the track.

    That said, the penalty seems on the harsh side. I wonder whether the Stewards additionally felt that McLaren hadn’t been entirely honest with them, as has happened before?

    1. XH1UNDA says:

      Just how dificult is it for McLaren to get a team of volunteers that can cope with the pressure of F1 – i mean if they can get the drivers, it surely must be easier to get resilient engineers, or is it not? Or is it Lewis who determines how much fuel should be put in the car?

    2. Matt Devenish says:

      Brilliant point, I never looked at it that way and see now the stewards didn’t have any choice on handing out a penalty, although that said I feel the driver has suffered the biggest penalty where it might have been more appropriate to fine the team and delete Hamilton’s Q3 time, as that was the only session they transgressed the rules.

      1. Chris Mellish says:

        The FIA have handed out the same penalty that they gave Schumacher when he parked it in Monaco and Maldonado when he was judged to have deliberately rammed his car into Hamilton.

        Is running out of fuel really equivalent. I’m sure the team could have produced data to show from the weight of the car and suspension loads that the car was only light on the last run and not the other runs he did, and the time benefit was insignificant compared to his advantage over the rest of the field so there was no motivation to cheat nor advantage gained. When Vettel illegally ran off track in qualifying in order to return to the pits after his first run, I think at Korea a year or two ago, the stewards let him off as they felt he hadn’t gained an advantage by doing so. Their reasoning was based on him crossing the line with 20 seconds to spare on his next run, even though he clearly felt it was tight enough to run off track in the first place and that it was a deliberate act.

        Here a team member makes what sounds like an honest mistake in under fuelling the car, and Lewis had a time advantage over 2nd placed man of over 10 times the weight advantage for carrying an extra half lap of fuel, and they exclude him from qualifying. Incredibly harsh. They should have just deleted the time of that last run, with Lewis having to start on tyres that were 6 laps old then being a very harsh penalty in the race, or excluded him from Q3 so he started 10th. Instead they equate his penalty with much more severe and deliberate instances.

        Is that decision really agenda and bias free?

      2. Ryan Eckford says:

        I get the feeling that there has been many acts of discrimination against Lewis.

      3. **Paul** says:

        It’s always McLaren though isn’t it and normally Lewis who are pushing the rules to the edge. So doesn’t it make sense that he and McLaren are normally the team to get the punishments? If you’re objective most of them are fair.

        McLaren of all people should have known about the fuel in qualifying post Canada 2010. They will also have known how much fuel was in Lewis’s car when he was on his out lap, and certainly by the time he started his hot lap. Did they call him in? No.

        Make no mistake, the fuelling initially might have been an error, but not calling him in was very much a strategic ‘lets see if we can blag it’ decision.

        He put in a reasonable performance yesterday, but I think even if he’d started on pole he may have struggled to make the podium given the pace of PM, FA, KR and RG.

      4. ILOVELEWIS says:

        If there were anything “technical” to support an under fuelling, it’s a mitigating factor? Interestingly the re-fuelling guy set to drain the tank and then refuel with an amount subsequently deemed to be illegal! The team knew! punishment fits the crime.

      5. In qualifying, the cars are only scrutineered either once eliminated or at the end of Q3.

        If the stewards had no means to prove the car was legal at any point during qualifying, they had no choice in terms of penalty I believe.

      6. Chris Mellish says:

        Telemetry would have shown suspension loads and fuel levels, the team could have demonstrated the car was legal on the other runs if they had been asked to do so. It would appear the stewards didn’t ask.

      7. Flashman says:

        Ridiculous argument!! They have no way of proving that any car was legal during all of qualy – so all of them should be penalised?

        I think the penalty is harsh, but I can actually understand it as a punishment for breaking the rules once in Q3. I just hope they didn’t use your logic, which is guilty until proven innocent.

      8. Wayne says:

        There is little to no common sense in this argument. The McLaren is arguably the fastest car out there, regardless of an error over a litre of fuel. Besides, the cLaren made its way back tot he pits at the end of Q1 and Q2 didnt it? So it must have had enough fuel on board right? Exclusion from Q3 would have been enough.

      9. Guys, your assumptions are all fine except they are just this: assumptions.

        Scrutineering is about proving competitors follow the rule book, and in this case the Technical and Sporting regulations.

        Checking telemetry and what have yous from the team is the same as taking McLaren’s word for it. Try also to understand the dangerous precedent this would create.

        There is always the possibility (however small) of car 4 running underweight in at anytime in Q1, Q2 or Q3.

        True, the stewards had the discretion regarding the penalty, however, let’s not forget that as James mentioned above, this rule was created because of McLaren were perceived to gain an unfair advantage in Canada 2010 by short fuelling Lewis. I would also add the team claimed it was a case of force majeure when clearly it wasn’t.

        The rules are the same for all competitors, especially now that Jean Todt is the FIA president.
        Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor sport and I expect all teams to be at the top of their game all of the time.

      10. Edison says:

        I do agree with our comment.

      11. DMyers says:

        As Brundle has said before: you can’t easily separate driver and team, therefore it is correct that Hamilton is penalised if the rules have been broken.

      12. Clare Racer says:

        Brundle has also tweeted that he thinks the penalty was “suspect” and should have been P6 so he obviously thinks back of the grid was harsh.

      13. **Paul** says:

        @Clare – Suggest he reads up on the rules a bit more then given his job.

    3. anonymous says:

      I would have expected that the stewards would simply delete the time he drove having an underfueled car, but if disqualification is written in the rules, this is what they had to do.

      1. Chris Mellish says:

        The rules are written so that the stewards can apply any penalty they see fit. It was at their discretion.

      2. James Clayton says:

        Nope. One fixed penalty for this offence.

    4. Wayne says:

      3 races ago I said that McLaren are doing everything they can to loose the championships for their drivers and their team. Many people here lectured me. Really, can anyone argue the point now? It’s frightening how incompetent this team have become this year. Has to be the end for Whitmarsh. I do not call for the ‘manager’s’ head lightly, but the guy is responsible at the end of the day. Were I Hamilton I would be off to Mercedes next year, or Ferrari if they’d have me. Enough is enough.

      1. James D says:

        These sort of blunders extend back further than this year. We seem to see a lot more of this sort of thing from McLaren than any other top team.

      2. They are lucky enough to be in a super competitive season where no one walks away with the title. They are definitely in with the chance today. Button is now starting 10th with a lot of fresh rubber.

        That said, McLaren is the team that managed to lose both titles in 2007 through mismanagement…

      3. nowitzki says:

        Wayne you’re absolutely right. Its become GUARANTEED that every race MacLaren will find a way to c0*k it up, somewhere somehow. Rarely happened when Ron Dennis was there. Whitmarsh just looks too soft to be team boss. He has to go, get someone in there that gets the team on their toes.

      4. CH1UNDA says:

        How about we throw in Whitmarsh naming these errant engineers – their being protected by anonymity is not helping. When Lewis screws up, the whole world knows it. It is not fair that when these guys do it, nobody really knows who they are so they keep coming up with these jaw droppers. Shocked!

      5. Wayne says:

        Nice point.

      6. An1T says:

        These engineers are normal guys. Lewis Hamilton gets paid millions of pounds a year and rightly is in the firing line of the media if things go wrong. Same with Whitmarsh. My partner is on the race team of another top team ……. He works his backside off, working ridiculously long hours, and is devoted to his job for not that big a salary. Hauling his name over the coals if something went wrong is not going to improve things, with no quicker way to destroy team morale.

        What difference does it make if the public get to know their names? Just so someone gets to tear them to shreds on the Internet?

      7. Craig says:

        Wayne, I agree.
        I agree McLaren race crew are a complete shambles. My view is Whitmarsh has got to either get a grip and fast or move aside but I think the decision will be made for him.
        Too many times McLaren seem to be left wanting, aimless, continually reactive instead of proactive.

        Personally, I wouldn’t call for Whitmarsh to go as not knowing the full inside story, I think it’s not appropriate for me to do so.

        But I do remember Whitmarsh lacklustre support of Hamilton last season.
        I dare say Hamilton remembers too…..
        I’m sure his dad does.

      8. Rupert Suren says:

        Perhaps it is time for Ron to come back. The race crew need a serious reality check and Martin needs to make some changes quickly.

    5. Daniel MA says:

      I agree completely, it was a mistake, not Force Majure but indeed the penalty seems harsh.

    6. Quattro_T says:

      This would not be the first time stewards hand out stupid penalties, or stand by watching when rules are broken…without acting..

      I do however believe that they handed this hard penalty because they knew that Mclaren knew LH was lightly fuelled, but let him continue his last flyig lap anyway. While Mclaren probably said “look, we are sorry we made a misstake, we will ensure it does not happen again, let it go for this time”, the steward will reply with “well, even if it was an innocent misstake, the sensors on your car would have informed you about the fuel level on Lewis car during his outlap/flying lap. You could have asked him for example to pit after the outlap, or abort the flying lap and save fuel. You did not, instead you tried to cheat us, therefor we are sending you to the back of the grid!”

      1. veeru says:

        well said,

        I dont understand why people are saying it is a harsh penalty. NO, it is not. It’s within the rules.

        Also, immediately after quali, when Ted asked Martin for the reason, Martin (by that time he must have know what was the reason, no question about it), he says it is a technical issue and no problems

        i dont think their intention was to cheat, but when they knew they made a mistake, they tried to mask it… some people say “AHA…That’s cheating”

        I would have loved to be in that AHA moment

      2. Clare Racer says:

        The penalty can be within the rules AND harsh, especially when compared to the penalties handed out for other offences or lack of penalties handed out in some instances!

      3. Warren Groenewald says:

        Precedent set by Macca in Canada 2010 which forced the rule change in the first place neans that of ALL the teams, they can never get away with under fueling in qualy

      4. Craig in SG says:

        Check and Mate!

    7. splidge says:

      I’m pretty sure the team must have done something to antagonise the stewards.

      If they’d gone in to the hearing and said “we didn’t put enough fuel in, we’re very sorry” then surely that would be a few place grid penalty or similar.

      Instead I suspect they took a gamble and tried to pass the incompetence of their fuel engineer off as an Act of God and paid the price.

      1. Steve says:

        I expect as others pointed out it’s the fact they would have known/realised he didn’t have enough fuel before he commenced the flying lap but left him out anyway banking on getting a slap on the wrist.

    8. How can the penalty be harsh? In qualifying, the cars only go through scrutineering once eliminated or at the end of Q3.

      I believe the stewards had no means to prove the car was compliant at any point during qualifying, leaving them no choice but to exclude the car.

      1. Wayne says:

        What? How can the car not have been compliant at the end of Q1 and Q2? It made it’s way back to the pits so it did have enough fuel on board?

        Anyone wiht an ounce pf common sense would agree that exclusion from Q3 alone would have been enough of a penalty, and I for one would have agreed with that as a mistake was made and an advantage was gained – however tiny.

      2. Six cars eliminated from Q1 and Q2 are picked at random for scrutineering. All cars from from Q3 also go through scrutineering, inclusive of driver weighing.

        Scrutineering has nothing to do with common sense. It is about checking against a list of set criteria.

        Formula 1 is a technical sport and this rule is the direct result of McLaren’s actions in Canada 2010.
        Please also note Sam Michael claimed it was a case of force majeure when clearly, it wasn’t. Taking the stewards for a bunch of debutants was never going to work, wasn’t it?

        McLaren just need to stop shooting themselves in the foot. Don’t be angry with the FIA Stewards – they are just doing what they are paid for.

      3. Spinodontosaurus says:

        The issue here is that he stopped on track to keep enough fuel for the fuel test. When he stopped he had 3 times the amount of fuel required for the test.
        There has been nothing of the fuel being irregular, combined with the fact he was able to return to the pits fine enough every other run, it is only logical to say his other runs were perfectly legal.
        His other runs cant break a rule that doesnt apply to them.

      4. Nonsense – read the rules:

        2012 F1 Technical regulations – Article 6.6.2:
        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.

        We could go on for years examining what is fair or unfair, common sense or not, or whatever way the team could prove they were in the right outside of the accepted checks.
        The fact is McLaren are in breach of the regulations.
        No one can prove the car was legit for the earlier runs. If the FIA Stewards cannot check the car was not underweight (which is possible to achieve even under parc ferme conditions), then there is a possibility it might have been by up to 1 kg.

      5. F1Fan says:

        That makes no sense. The fact that he was able to complete an in lap to return to the after his previous runs would satisfy those concerns. Generally it is in Q3 where the teams fuel the cars with just enough to do one flying lap. If they opt to run a second lap they will typically pit prior to that lap and add fuel. Which is exactly had happened in Hamilton’s case. He did a banker lap early in Q3 and it was when the team refueled Hamilton for the second run that they underfueled him.

        So there was no reason for the stewards to doubt he was carrying enough fuel in earlier runs. A fairer penalty as has been pointed out by many was to eliminate his final time and use the prior time.

      6. Being able to return to the pits after the previous runs does not prove the car was not underweight then. You could easily short fuel a car by 1kg and return to the pits on fumes. (Read the regulations here.)>

        The Stewards have every reason to be suspicious, especially considering this rule was put in place because of McLaren running out of fuel at the end of Q3 in Canada 2010.

        As such, taking a previous time makes no sense whatsoever.

    9. Bluefroggle says:

      Is there any way Lewis could have gone into maximum fuel saving mode the second he had gone past the line after finishing his fast lap?

      i.e. the team must have realised he would be short on fuel long before he finished his fast lap. Could they have then immediately said to Lewis, “right, go to maximum fuel saving mode, stay in high gear, coast round the rest of the track in neutral with the engine running at tick over speed, just get back to the pits, etc etc”.

      If that had worked, would Lewis have been able to save the fuel and have had the minimum required for scrunitineering?

    10. Robert says:

      I agree with you. I think the action was correct, but the penalty was not fair. I feel that the marshals should only excluded his last run which he did not completed.

  2. Johnny English says:

    What a loser McLaren team has become. There problems somewhere in pits almost every single race. I’m not a Hamilton fan, but I feel sorry for him – it wasn’t his fault.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      I know Whitmarsh will get all the blame for this, and comments about loser Mclaren but I have a different culprit.
      Someone who has form for this.

      Sam Michael.

      Isn’t it a fascinating coincidence that Williams have moved forwards since his departure last September, yet Mclaren are making more and more mistakes.
      A 1 off, I’d say it happens, like Irvine in 1999 not having tyres at his pit stop, but this is the 3rd race so far that Mclaren have made serious mistakes which punish their drivers.
      Considering how fast that car is, the team isn’t pulling in the right direction.

      Frank Williams said last year, his biggest regret was Newey leaving the team, and not having done more to convince him to stay.

      His best decision in years was sacking Michaels.

      1. Paul says:

        well noticed and well said…

      2. matt says:

        Damn right! Michaels is a liability, Williams giving him the flick is the best move they’ve made for years.

      3. LT says:

        Early in the season I would disagree with you because McLaren hired Michael for a different role (Sporting director) to his role at Williams (tech director). Now Im agreeing as I think McLaren have gone backwards since he joined. There just seems to be no organisation or coordination in their operations.

      4. Robert says:

        Here here. I know that Sam Michael’s is held in high regard by many in the paddock, but judging by his track record at Williams, I fail to see why. It seems more than a coincidence to me that Williams’ form has had an upward swing since his departure and McLaren are faltering in the very area that he has been employed to oversee.

      5. CH1UNDA says:

        James is one of those in F1 that holds Michael in high regard so may be he can tell us something that we do not know – the logic was that it wasn’t working for him at Williams because he was over worked and doing literally everything. But here we are at McLaren and he is just focused on track operations for two cars and something is not tying up – a nice consipiracy theory would be that may be some of the engineers loyal to guys that got passed over by Sam Michael are trying to sabbotage him :D

  3. Jeevan balan Manoj says:

    They had to penalize him. .5+ advantage was way too much . Well deserved front row start for Alonso

    1. Trespasser says:

      0.5 was too much? Really? When Vettel pulled more that 0.7 in qualy how was is it? Just right? :)

    2. Spanco says:

      Sure, mate. It would have been .4 if he had enough fuel on board.

      1. Fuel effect on this circuit under race conditions is 0.04s/lap. All other cars were carrying enough fuel to complete the in lap and meet the scrutineering requirements, McLaren made a mistake, they violated the rules and were punished accordingly. It probably doesn’t help their situation that have ran into this issue a few times in the recent past. Harder to ask for forgiveness the 2nd or 3rd time.

    3. SamIam says:

      Don’t make this about Alonso or Ferrari or anything else. The rule was put in place to stop people from doing exactly this after qualifying.
      It is sad that Lewis has to suffer for the mistakes of his team but you win/lose as a team so its all part of the game.

      1. GumbiGumbi says:

        The punishment is loud and clear. This is definitely about Hamilton and McLaren on one hand versus Alonso and Spanish stewards on the other hand and the sport is actually the loser. How can they justify this punishment when in fact he did post a time during his first heat in Q3?

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        But does it make sense that this rule does not apply to races as well? Why the incosistence? Remember, this rule DID NOT exist 2 years ago until Lewis stopped on track in Canada. I am suspecting if he stopped on track for a race for fuel issues, they will change the rule for races too.

      3. manu says:

        “Don’t make this about Alonso or Ferrari or anything else. The rule was put in place to stop people from doing exactly this after qualifying”.

        Exactly correct, Samlam

      4. Doobs says:

        ..and introduced after Hamilton (coincidentally enough) parked his car in Montreal one year? Mac sure learn fast don’t they?
        BTW just how little fuel do they need to put in? It’s said being on pole doesn’t matter any more. So why run the car on fumes? And no, I don’t accept the blame-the-fuel-man excuse.

    4. Quattro_T says:

      In reality it was not .5+ advantage. LH had a new set of softs, while I believe Alonso did his Q3 lap on a used set. Either Ferrari have closed the gap to the fastest car ALOT, or Alonso is a GOD at driving a F1 car.

      1. Rhett says:

        Alonso was on fresh softs when he set his 3rd place qualifying time.

  4. Alanis Morissette says:

    Whitmarsh conspiracy theorists in 5…4…3…2…1…

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Lol makes you wonder as its all going wrong on raceday only and never related to car design/structure reliability or the drivers! Mechanics pay aint that great all things considered either, would be interesting to know if it was a fuel calculated error or a fuel added error! BUT i suspect it may be something more sinister like fuel additive on the basis prosumably they need the full 1tr to analyse officially? chancing there luck? .5 is quite a margin!

      1. splidge says:

        Surely nobody seriously believes that any team would risk running illegal fuel. If nothing else they deliberately stopped the car with enough fuel left to run the tests.

    2. Wayne says:

      Not a conspiracy at all. Just incompetent. he is the guy responsible for his team.

    3. CH1UNDA says:

      FIA conspiracy would be more like it … anyway bottom line is that in this case, McLaren just not up there with the level of service commensurate to level of resources. What a disgrace!

  5. Anand R says:

    Terrible, just Terrible! What on earth is Mclaren upto! Seem like Hamilton might be better off to a mid field team like Sauber or Force India, and yet score more points.

  6. Stefan Algar says:

    Honestly, it is a joke that the driver takes a penalty. The team should be penalised not the driver.

    It seems that entertainment is not what the stewards want for us fans. I’m really upset by this, they’ve ruined the race.

    1. F1 says:

      Well, it was not the first time that McLaren stopped on the track with not enough fuel after taking pole. And it wasn’t the first time that McLaren lied to the authorities either. Perhaps those facts were going through the minds of the race stewards and triggered the penalty.

    2. Sebee says:

      Ad the driver keeps the advantage of faster lighter car? I don’t think that’s fair or in the spirit.

      Let’s see if he can do a vintage Schumi drive into top 5..

      1. Veena says:

        How about a vintage Kimi drive to win the race

      2. James Allen says:

        That’s my tip

      3. nismof1 says:

        I am sure he could go for a vintage win, the question is will these tyres let him climb through the grid. His long runs looked good in practice. Mclaren really need to get their act together otherwise they are going to throw their chances of constructor and driver titles.

      4. MItchel says:

        What a scenario that would be! Bring it on!

      5. CH1UNDA says:

        Hallo? On which tyres – didn’t Schumi said it already. These are not the tyres you use to recover. Unless there is a penalty for not racing, he should opt to save the engine and gearbox. But since testing comes at a premium nowadays, he can also use the race to test some of the new parts that they did not completely test in practise.

    3. rafa says:

      mclaren ruined the race and all by themselves.

    4. Ken says:

      The driver needs to be penalized too, otherwise teams would start picking and choosing rules to break when it would suit them (like if a driver was in contention for the WDC but the team was already out of the WCC).

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        Really? Can you imagine that being McLaren’s biggest problem i.e. cherry picking which rule to break :D These guys can not put a whole clean weekend together – lets keep things in perspective. :D

    5. AndyFov says:

      I think Hamilton deserves a penalty. He was underfueled which gave him a time advantage.

      I think the punishment dealt is too severe. If they’d disqualified him from final qually and made him start 10th I’d have thought ‘fair enough’.

      1. Andrew M says:

        My thoughts exactly. The stewards have effectively said that what happened was the equivalent of Schumi blocking the track in Monaco, which is ridiculous.

        McLaren were able to give enough fuel for a sample, the legality of their fuel was not in doubt, so there is no reason to strip Lewis of Q1/2 times. This was all about gaining an unfair advantage on their last flying lap. I think the minimum punishment should have been losing the pole time, and maximum should have been exclusion from Q3 altogether.

    6. MAS says:

      Unfortunately that is highly impractical.

      Hitting the team but not the driver can only be done with fines and by docking WCC-points (while maintaining WDC-points).

      Fines are a non-starter because teams would gladly “buy” an advantage (this was the major bone of contention the last time McLaren pulled this exact same stunt and escaped with a fine).

      Qualifying is premature for docking championship-points that have not yet been won and the team’s benefits from the WDC may be less direct but are still substantial. And aside from punishing the team’s transgression, the illegally gained advantage over the other drivers also needs to be mitigated.

    7. Johnny English says:

      Would you say the same if Alonso would have been in Hamilton’s place?
      Yes, penalty is a bit too harsh

    8. DB says:

      The team _was_ penalised. Their car will start at the back of the grid.

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        If the idea was to be fair, they could have started the car 10th, the driver gets to earn his WDC points but they disqualify the team from earning WCC points for this race. What is the point of punishing somebody who has no controll over how much fuel goes into his car – however many times you punish him he will never be able to correct it – afterall isn’t that the ultimate objective of the punishment?

      2. MItchel says:

        Mostly agree- but back to 10th place would have been enough of a penalty to team and driver.

        They reached the top ten legally, so why punish them any further?

    9. SamIam says:

      It it is entertainment you want, then they stewards have guaranteed it for tomorrow. Lewis Hamilton cutting through the field from the back will be quite fun to watch!

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        Not possible on these tyres

      2. Dave C says:

        Not possible on these tyres? So why did Kimi nearly win the race after starting 12th last time round? And how did Webber get a podium in China last year after starting from the back? Also Jenson’s win in Canada last year?

      3. Charlie B says:

        He’ll have to get past Massa!

    10. richy says:

      You sure they’ve ruined the race ?
      it looks very much like it could rain. LH, coming through the pack, in the wet… it may just be epic.

      I’m no big LH fan personally, but in this case I feel that the punishment is very harsh, overly so.
      DQ’d from Q3 would have been plenty punishment enough imo

    11. Zippy says:

      It is, perhaps, a tad harsh – a ten-place penalty could maybe have been considered – but since the driver gets the benefit of less fuel = less weight = faster, a position penalty for the driver is right to dissuade other teams from doing the same thing. Most teams would happily pay $10k to improve a few grid slots.

      (And the fact that this rule was *CREATED* because of LH/McL doing this before no doubt weighed too…)

    12. Luke Clements says:

      So using that line of thinking…Can the Stewards just let Webber go out and set another Q2 time? Because it was his teams mistake to leave him in & he shouldn’t be penalised? And for that matter, RBR can call “force majere” or “act of God” with a lot more credibility thatn Mclaren, where the hell did that magic cloud come from that stripped an instant .7 sec a lap off everyone who was blessed enough to be under it?

    13. veeru says:

      The team should be penalised? Like How?

      Let’s say they fine them. What is stopping other teams doing exactly the same and paying the fine and then race themselves to victory.

      i bet you will be crying in opposite direction then.

      Just think.

      1. Stefan says:

        If the other teams had a similar fuelling issue they still would not have been as quick…! Mistakes happen in the pit but clearly you can not see that.
        I welcome the thoughts of others but come on, where did it say I was crying…! Your obviously just another non Lewis fan having a go, or at least it seems.

        Now you think!

      2. Doobs says:

        Well Maldo was more than close enough to have taken pole if his car had also been underfuelled. What happens in pit lane also gets penalised: unsafe releases, tyres falling off, pitlane fires, speeding…

    14. William Wilgus says:

      The team WAS penalized. As far as Hamilton being penalized also, shouldn’t he have known that he would wind up with too little fuel? If so, then it’s fair that he was penalized too. Or should Button been penalized instead or also? Not hardly. If Button can get it right, why couldn’t Hamilton?

      1. B.Diddy says:

        How the hell would the driver sitting in the cockpit know how much fuel is being put in ? That’s the most ridiculous comment I have heard. It is not Lewis or Button who is responsible for fuel intake.
        If you’re such a Button fan maybe you should ask yourself why Lewis can put the same car on pole consistently this season and Button can’t? I believe Jenson is still waiting for his first Maclaren pole ????
        Be fair Lewis not at fault clearly a team cock up again !!!!

      2. F1Fan says:

        You are perhaps confusing fueling in racing with someone pulling into a gas station and telling the attendant how much gas to put into the car. Do you really think the driver micromanages how much fuel gets put into his car? Really?

      3. cookie says:


    15. The team was penalized, the offending McLaren was moved to the back of the grid.

  7. Abuelo Paul says:

    Well, harsh justice, but well served based on past experience.
    I am really looking forward to tomorrows race now, with so many unusual suspects at the front and the norms bringing up the rear, on a poor passing track, it will certainly bring out the frustrations and aggressions.

    More like this please.

  8. randomperson says:

    This strikes me as a shocking cockup by McLaren. I wonder how many more of these mistakes they can make before Hamilton leaves?

    1. F1 says:

      And where should Hamilton go? He was supported by McLaren long ago before he made his E1 debut already.

      1. James Clayton says:


      2. Dan Orsino says:

        got a feeling he’s a;ready in at RBR. Def out of McLaren next year, nothing to do with this fuel business…
        But has whitmarsh got Kimi for 2013?

      3. CH1UNDA says:

        It is strange how easy it is for all other drivers except for one of the top three drivers with a WDC under his belt to boot … strange days in F1. In normal life, when you are this good, you get opennings thrown at you :D

    2. D@X says:

      They need to go back to basics, making too many mistakes!

  9. @dom1n1cham1lton says:

    Once again Lewis Hamilton is screwed over by his own team, through amateur mistakes. And the stewards.

    1. D@X says:

      Agreed, the penalty is way over the top, handing it to Alonso on a silver platter, we have been robbed of a good show again.

      1. veeru says:

        you couldn’t be more wrong

  10. HFEVO2 says:

    Having read on the BBC website that Lewis has been demoted to the back of the grid, one wonders what must be going through his mind ?

    After two pit stop errors at the last race and now this debacle, he must be having serious second thoughts about re-signing for McLaren.

    As the FIA were able to take more than the necessary 1 litre of fuel from the car, this is a very harsh penalty, given that his big margin over the Williams of Maldonado would certainly still have put him on pole, even if he had more fuel in the car.

    Hamilton does seem to attract disproportionately higher penalties than some other drivers on the grid. Or in this case, is a move to the back of the grid a mandatory penalty ?

    1. Dmitry says:

      Totally agree with you.
      I expected the penalty, but total exclusion is too harsh, especially considering it was not his fault… I guess somebody simply doesn’t like Lewis.

      Also I am very disapointed with McLaren, how could they…. how could they =(

    2. LD01 says:

      DSQ is the standard penalty for failing the fuel test after the session.

    3. Don says:

      Its a mandatory penalty.

    4. Johnny English says:

      Tend to agree regarding Hamilton, attracting harsh penalties – still can remember one for overtaking safety car in Valencia which in the end ended in nothing but should have been, imho, black flag

      1. Martin says:

        In my view the problem in Valencia was that the stewards took far to long to reach a decision. That meant that the drive through, the standard penalty, had little consequence.

        McLaren has generally had cars that race well – it is rare that they are fast in qualifying and slow in the race. Therefore McLarens are generally trying to pass, rather than defend, especially if mistakes put them out of position. If you try to pass quickly to avoid losing time then slight gambles are taken. A few don’t come off. Lewis combines these two attributes. The stewards sometimes makes some odd calls, too.

      2. Dave C says:

        Sure Valencia 2010 was an odd call, Hamilton should have been disqualified, because in the end it’s that move that cost Alonso the title, Karma’s such a nice thing, China 2007 the gravel trap was also justice done.

    5. MAS says:

      Perhaps it isn’t Lewis (this time) but McLaren that gets the special treatment. After all, they are the sole reason this rule exists. And if the team was as obfuscatory with the stewards as they were with the media they will not have helped their case either.

      I doubt ~2 kgs of fuel is worth over half a second but what do I know? As for the mandatory penalty… when McLaren did the exact same thing two years ago, the FIA/Charlie talked about “appropriate measures” in the not-so-aptly named clarification that spawned this rule.

      1. Chris says:

        Wy can’t they just suspend that time. Why can’t his previous lap time count?

      2. Simple says:

        It’s commonly stated by F1 reporters that 1 litre of fuel is worth 0.1s in lap time. Lewis had plenty of space to carry the required fuel. God it’s hard being a Mclaren fan sometimes!

      3. William Wilgus says:

        It’s certain that the low fuel and being last to do a flying lap on an improving track had something to do with his ‘astonishing’ time.

    6. Louis.M says:

      When Rosberg move all over the track, he doesn’t have a single penalty. The stewarts should have cancel his q3 time, that will have been the right thing to do

  11. Rob says:

    Outrageous decision. One lap was at an advantage only, so surely it makes sense to disqualify that lap. The punishment seems a tad excessive.

    1. Guy says:

      Interesting point. James would a sample have been taken from hamiltons first run?

    2. LAH says:

      all laps using the lesser fuel load would be disqualified.

      1. Spinodontosaurus says:

        Which laps were these?

    3. Rishi says:

      Yeah that’s what I thought would have happened – just disqualify the lap that was set. I reckon they’ve, to a degree, opted to make an example of him to ensure no team tries to cut it that fine on the fuel in future (by intention or error) – so no-one will even try to rely on the “force majeure” line in future in other words. Still, the real fault here has got to lie with McLaren; how many different ways can a team shoot itself in the foot? When people say F1 is a centre for innovation, I don’t think this is what they have in mind!

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        My problem is the incosistency between this rule for qualifying and racing. Why is the same situation, in the same sport treated differently. My other issue is that this rule did not exist two years ago before Lewis stopped on track in Canada i.e. there was consistency between race and quali. My suspicion is that if in future Lewis stopped on track for fuel like Vettel and Nico did in Bahrain, the race rule will be changed too and Lewis will get a reprimand.

      2. Rishi says:

        Fair point but I guess qualifying is a lot more in your control. You put the fuel in, they do an out-lap, a hot lap and in. If it was allowed then there would be an incentive for everyone to underfill. In the race a) putting the same fuel level in pre-race can lead to different post-race fuel levels conditional on Safety Cars, time stuck in traffic, even the weather. And b) if you do underfill then you do not necessarily stand to gain if that means you lose time in the closing stages saving fuel.

      3. Andrew says:

        Totally agree, Vettel used extra fuel to defend his 25 points from Kimi with NO mention of potential rule change when he finished with inadequate fuel to complete his in lap.

        Hamilton does this in qualifying in Canada and it’s a huge controversy resulting in a massive fine and now this!

        In my opinion doing it in the race is a greater offence due to teams having more time in which to adjust fuel usage in the result of a mistake. Not to mention that sunday is when the points are given out, would Vettel have been able to stop Kimi if he was in fuel saving mode?

    4. O.S says:


      The stewards should be sending a clear message that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and essentially amounts to cheating by the team. A 5 place penalty wouldn’t have the same effect.

    5. Wayne says:

      Why not just demote him to P10 and exclude him for Q3? However, this is McLaren’s fault, not the fault of the driver or the stewards.

    6. Steve says:

      Outrageous? The rule only exists because Mclaren skirted around it a previous time and got off with a fine.

  12. ReviLO says:

    A technical fault…. Are you having a laugh…. Jesus Christ!!!!! this is becoming comical. Mclaren get a grip.

  13. Jonathan says:

    Well I’m disappointed. Not for the Stewards, since rules are rules (even though the punishment does seem very harsh… you can stay parked in the garage for Q3 and start 10th, or not put enough fuel in the car and start at the back?!)

    No, I’m disappointed in McLaren. They have the car, they have the drivers yet they have a pit crew which are not worthy to be down in the HRT garage, let alone one of the top garages. Sort yourselves out McLaren. Please, for the sake of your fans!

    1. alexbookoo says:

      That’s a very good point about teams sitting in the garage and starting 10th. That seems far more against the spirit of the sport than under-fuelling slightly.

      1. splidge says:

        Agreed, but it doesn’t break any rules.

        Personally I think *every* car should have to start on the tyres it set its best time on (so non-runners in Q3 and 11th-17th should start on their Q2 tyres).

        The way things work right now, if you run in Q3 then you have to start on worn options that will last a very short time in the race. The resulting stop puts you back in the midfield behind the runners who started on primes or at least fresh options and will stop much later, because the initial set of tyres doesn’t last long enough to pull out a decent gap. As DRS has been toned down this year it’s non trivial to overtake them (and pushing too hard to get by will wreck your new tyres; I have a strong suspicion that merely following another car at all wrecks the tyres).

        Alternatively, you don’t bother to run and can start on whatever tyres you like (i.e. fresh ones) and you get to inherit a good position when the guys in front of you get screwed by their worn options. A helpful side effect is you can’t possibly get punted to the back of the grid when your team fails to put enough fuel in.

        Given that the qualifying format is otherwise good (particularly compared to the others they tried a few years ago), making everyone start on used rubber would level out that playing field and probably make everyone run in Q3 again.

      2. alexbookoo says:

        Yes. But surely the simplest solution to the quali problem is specific tyre allocations for Q1, Q2, and Q3 that can’t be used at any other stage of the weekend. Then whether they have to start the race on the set they set a lap on can be debated in the context of what’s good for the race, not how to solve the quali issue.

  14. Bobby says:

    Disgracefeul. What a farce. Penalty is totally disproportianate. If Hamilton packed his bags and went racing elsewhere who could blame him.

    Also, which team member underfueled the car? Same chap who does his right-rear tyres?

    1. XH1UNDA says:

      These guys work under tremendous pressure

      1. nowitzki says:

        So do the mechanics of other teams – how come they dont mess up every single race weekend?

    2. LD01 says:

      How is the penalty disproportionate?
      If he had come back to the pits he would have failed the fuel inspection and been DSQ’d.
      McLaren knew this and told him to pull over so they could argue some ‘not our fault’ excuse (it was their fault, who else’s was it?).
      So, worth a try on McLaren’s part but a DQS was the right penalty.

      Harsh on Hamilton as he’s suffering for a team error, but he’s probably used to this by now…

      1. Pman says:

        Right on LD01. This Schumacher sort of behavior has to stop (even though I was a huge fan of Michael). McLaren willingly cheated (again!) and then had the audacity to say it was due to technical reasons (for the second time). How many times can you cry wolf.
        It is a pity for LH but you win and lose as a team. If the team was docked points and no tthe driver then imagine how the mid-tier teams will behave just to get their drivers more on-air time.

  15. Andy says:

    He didn’t gain much of a lap time advantage from having less fuel, but you have to adhere to the regulations. It has to be said that this is about as embarrassing as it gets when it comes to mistakes, there’s no excuse and McLaren/Hamilton have now paid the price.
    The weather looks changeable for tomorrow so I suspect Hamilton will finish well up in the points.

  16. David McClune says:

    Much as I detest Hamilton, I feel that this is a punishment far in excess of the crime. His car was clearly the fastest by a country mile and so I can’t believe that McLaren underfuelled the car by 1kg on purpose. Fine, a mistake was made but surely you just throw him out of the final qualification session and he starts 10th?

    1. Doobs says:

      10th place may have been a punishment in the good old days, but with DRS, KERS and the Pirelli’s it’s no real problem getting on the podium or even winning from there. Back of grid is suitably attention grabbing to get team’s to notice

  17. AlexD says:

    To be clear, I tried to stay away from blaming mclaren, i thought they were simply very unfortunate, but i cannot swallow what they are doing this year. They have the fastest car and are making so many mistakes each race…hard to believe.
    I am a ferrari fan, so i should be happy as alonso has more chances now….but i still find it so stupid what mclaren is doing. Every race is hit by mistakes. Ferrari has a poor car, but at least they improved operations.
    Red bull will capitalize….

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Completely understand your reasoning.
      I’m also a Ferrari fan, and hate the idea of Vettel winning again.
      I take nothing away from the “wunderkid” but I always felt 2010 exceptionaly fortuitous. Last year he was supreme. Yet if he won again this year, because Mclaren are throwing it away… well.
      The problem for most Ferrari fans is seeing Mclaren winning, we hate it, yet cureently I’d rather see the chrome cars do it than RBR’s chosen one.
      Preferably, Ferrari sort it out and say thankyou for all these cock-ups that allow them to remain in contention till all updates are on the car.
      2010, Turkey, Ferrari were dismal on race day, 1.2s behind at best.
      2010 Britsih GP, 47 pts behind, Alonso saying could still win.
      2012, British GP, within 10 points of leaders, and 11 races to go…

  18. Rob Newman says:

    Cruel decision. This is too harsh. But rules are rules and I am sure Hamilton will be able to score some good points at the end.

    I hope Pastor will have a good start and keep Alonso at bay. I am also hoping that the two Lotus cars will havea good start.

  19. Kevin Irwin says:

    Really, this team is making some awful decisions lately, can you Imagine how Lewis is feeling right now, I suppose Martin Whitmarsh will put it down to just another one of those things, how will he explain losing one of the best F1 drivers to his board at the end of the season.

    1. Nick H says:

      Wasnt Sam Micheal brought in to improve team performance? doesnt seem to have much of a positive impact!

      1. Pman says:

        What can Sam Micheal do if the fuel guys don’t do their job! The only call to make was not let LH set his last time. Which they willfully did not do. How many times do you want to cheat with the same trick without being penalized?

      2. clyde says:

        like he did at williams ?

    2. Doobs says:

      It was a mistake according to them not a decision. How is Lewis feeling? Probably realising he wasn’t as fast as he thought as the car was underweight….?

  20. Chuck says:

    SInce Lewis has been excluded from qualifying and it’s now like he never participated at all, does he get new tires since he basically wasted them today? Ruins his race by putting him back there with the bums of F1 but now he also has no good tires to even try to move through the field. I get it that his team broke the rules, but to totally wipe the board of what he did in Q1 and Q2 is a bit much I think. If Alonso and Ferrari did this or Red Bull I promos they wouldn’t have been moved all the way to the back.

    1. LD01 says:

      Wasted, unfortunately.

  21. Rebel Spy says:

    McLaren screwing Hamilton again – guess those contract talks just got delayed a bit further!! Hamilton to Mercedes for 2013?

    1. Dmitry says:

      As much as I do NOT want Lewis to go, I must admit McLaren’s internal operations are just unacceptable.

      If they can’t operate with the highest quality, Lewis must go anywhere else.

    2. F1 says:

      I don’t think so. Mercedes seem happy with their current drivers.

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        Only that one of their drivers probably has indicated he wants to retire for good at the end of his contract?

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      Doesn’t a driver and team win and lose together?

  22. alec says:

    How much longer Hamilton will put up with McLaren is the question. They constantly make mistakes. Hamilton had a bad season last year; but it’s almost always the team’s fault.

    This penalty is in no way fair or proportionate. Hamilton had more than enough advantage in laptime to be able to get pole with sufficient fuel to return to the pits – several times. Once again, the stewards have it in for Lewis it seems. I just hope he keeps his head in the race, no pun intended.

    In retrospect, Hamilton will be thinking, why bother setting a lap time in Q3? Look where Vettel starts. Look where all those other drivers who didn’t bother to do a proper lap in Q3 start. Why not just save tyres. It’s the same with overtaking. Why bother, when if it goes ever so slightly wrong a penalty is the result. Best to just look after your tyres and hope for mistakes from others. But that doesn’t make for very compelling viewing….

    1. LD01 says:

      Again, am not sure why people think the DSQ is not fair. I get it that it’s harsh on Lewis to suffer for his team’s stupid error, but DSQ is the punishment for failing a fuel inspection.

      What am I missing? Unless you think it’s unfair in general and the rules need to be changed for all fuel inspection failures…?

      1. BB says:

        Does that not apply to Vettel in Bahrain as well then?

      2. splidge says:

        Did he fail a fuel inspection? I thought he just stopped on the track (with enough fuel in the car to pass the fuel inspection).

      3. James Clayton says:

        Yes, I think that’s what people are saying.

        An exclusion from the session in which the car stops on track instead of returning to the pits seems a reasonable enough deterrent yet not too harsh.

      4. CH1UNDA says:

        Well, why not? If they could change the rule in Canada only for quali they can do the same to make it fair – it seemed easy enough then it should be easy enough now.

    2. Ken says:

      Three of the last four races have been won from the front row. Going for a time in Q3 still matters.

    3. dzolve says:

      Well said. On the one hand they want a ‘show’ on the other, it seems they don’t!

  23. frosty says:

    I think it is unfair that all of Lewis’s times are excluded.

    His Q1 and Q2 times should stand, he got back to the pits fine then and they did get a fuel sample at the end of the qualifying. It is understandable he loses his Q3 time but all of them?

    1. Steve says:

      He is the reason the rule is so harsh in the first place. How many times should Mclaren be allowed to stuff it up and get a slap on the wrist?

      1. frosty says:

        A driver losing their time in their best qualifying session is hardly a slap on the wrist.

      2. Steve says:

        I was referring to the previous occasion when Mclaren received a fine for the same thing which resulted in the strengthening of the rule.

        It seems many here would have preferred Mclaren just keep getting inconsequential fines for flaunting a qualifying rule nobody else seems to have problems keeping within?

  24. Keith says:

    It seems harsh, but the rules are the same for everybody, and not putting enough fuel in is hardly “force majeure”.

    Congratulations to Williams. Great to see them back!

    P.S. It’s a one litre sample you need to provide.

  25. Avery says:

    Vettel stopped to save fuel sample in Bahrain, no Penalty. Hamilton excluded for the same reason. F1 is a joke now.

    1. Ian says:

      Agreed – I honestly can’t see any other driver being hit with the same penalty if they’d been in Lewis’s unfortunate position today.

    2. F1 says:

      Interesting observation. Perhaps Vettel didn’t lie to the stewards?

    3. derrick says:

      Got to agree this is OTT. How many other cars stop out on track?

    4. Sufyaan Patel says:

      That was after the race so I guess different rules apply there

    5. Umar Ali Hayat says:

      Well the difference in one was race and the other was Qualifying so not the same reason is it, in qualifying is no fuel conservation but full out pace for one lap, the team has to fill it and then return, but in race the usage differs as sumtimes drivers go all out in there usage to keep the car behind which is understandable…

    6. Ken says:

      Stopping after the race is not the same as stopping after qualifying

      1. BB says:

        sure it isn’t – In the race you have 50 or 60 laps of advantage, while in quali you have 1.

      2. MrNed says:

        But a one litre fuel sample is still required – why should it be different in the race?

    7. Mike says:

      This on top of the tyre fiasco, I’m fast losing interest in F1. I want to see the best drivers in the best cars winning the race, not this contrived lottery.It’s Past use by date for Ecclestone, send him to the back of the grid,F1 isn’t a playstation game.
      For this to happen to Hamilton in Spain of all places must be humiliating for him ,If I was in his place I would pack my bag and move to the U.S.

      1. James Allen says:

        Not inconceivable

      2. Timwahoo says:

        He’d miss f1 more than it him

      3. Phil R says:

        Indy or Nascar?? The parallels with Montoya would be uncanny thinking about it…

    8. Chris_NZ says:

      Fair point, and many media outlets have not raised this. But they should….

  26. Rupert Suren says:

    Disgraceful decision by the stewards and a startlingly stupid decision to under fuel by the team. The team should have been fined or had points deducted from the manufacturers championship. Punishing Hamilton is plain outrageous and it would not surprise me if he decided to walk away from F1. America is waiting and would welcome him with open arms and a fistful of dollars.

    1. bob says:

      There’s no way Hamilton would have gotten the result he did on that lap with the proper amount of fuel. The bare minimum would be to make that lap’s result null an void.

      1. splidge says:

        He’d still have been (comfortably) on pole with another few litres of fuel on board.

      2. Simple says:

        sorry, but he would have. lewis had an advantage of .578 seconds with his pole lap over maldonado. its commonly acknowledged thay 1 litre of fuels is worth 0.1s of lap time. lewis needed an additional 2.5 litres of fuel from whay i’ve read, which still gives him a conformtable margin of maldonado.

      3. James Clayton says:

        Yes there’s no way he would have got that time with an extra laps worth of fuel. He’d have been about 4 tenths up instead of 5.

  27. Stephen says:

    so the 2 teams that couldn’t be bother to even try and set a lap time get to start ahead of Lewis. Not worth leaving the pits in Q3

    1. F1 says:

      Stupid tyre rules, I agree.

    2. Andy says:

      Any driver who doesn’t set a time in Q3 should get a penalty.

      1. Grant says:

        I agree. I think they should have to set a time in Q3 thats within let say 1 second of there Q2 time.

  28. saleh says:

    That’s unfair
    i know that FIA=Ferrari International Association
    wants that to hand the win to alonso
    alonso always lucky just like malaysia when mclaren pit crew made a mistake and he won the race with team orders on sauber and perez
    congratulations FIA and ferrari and alonso as well
    see you in monaco guys
    what a stupid penalty
    but lewis will show them,all of them that he is the best and he is better than them
    good luck to lewis
    from an Iceman fan

    1. El Pibe says:

      Why blame Ferrari for anything that happens to McLaren?!

      grow up…

    2. stoikee says:

      Are you saying someone from Ferrari or FIA was the one holding the fuel rig? Are you serious? By the way, the standard penalty for failing a fuel test is DSQ from qualifying.

  29. shankar says:

    There must be a penalty for him. But to send him to the back of the grid is outrageous. Too harsh. I hope stewards are as strict with other drivers when the slip up too.

  30. Louis.M says:

    That’s freaking ridiculous, i’m guetted

  31. Mark says:

    Travesty. The fastest man (again) has been robbed of his rightfu place on pole.
    Shocking and very disappointing.
    The difference between him and Pastor was, I believe, greater than any delat due to lower fuel load?
    If so, this is a very poor decision.
    Dropping him back to 6th (due to his first qualifying time in Q3) should be the harshest penalty.
    Get ‘em Lewis!

  32. gil dogon says:

    Well Mclaren really set the standard high this season regarding their ability to shoot themselves in the foot … Pity Hamilton has to suffer this, but the stewards had no choice, specially in light of the Canada precedent. I really wonder how much of this team blunders can Hamilton take before somethings breaks. And their poor excuse of force Majeure? Pathetic that was….

  33. Jamie says:

    Another terrible punishment in F1 … surely excluding him from Q3 at most or even just discount best time …. to throw him completely out of qualli seems disproportionate

  34. Michael says:


  35. Matt W says:

    As much as I think the FIA is biased against Mclaren, in this case it is Mclaren’s own stupidity which has cost them. I have no idea how Mclaren continue to make such stupid mistakes, it is beyond belief for one of the most prestigious teams.

    If they lose Hamilton they will only have themselves to blame and after such farcical mistakes I wouldn’t blame him at all if he left. Mclarens ridiculous number of errors this year will probably cost them a championship they should have won.

    On another note, BBC made a smart move with deferred coverage. At least with result changes after the race the BBC coverage should contain the full results.

  36. Tim F says:

    So, the mechanic on the right rear tyre gun last race is now operating the fuel rig is he?

  37. c-m says:

    Very harsh.

    IT should certainly be a penalty but not back of the grid.

    Losing the his fastest lap time would be about right, or starting from 10th i.e as if he never ran in Q3

  38. Paul Woods-smith says:

    I’m a total fellow Hertfordshire Lewis fan but just can’t get my head around a team as professional as his can do such a mistake. Bet he’s thinking the same thing! However this isn’t the first time so rules are rules – Lewis has to take this one. Nothing like an angry LH charging through the field tomorrow, go on son!

    1. olivier says:

      Yes, but will the tires let him to?!

  39. Dan Orsino says:

    Great for Maldo but I can’t see him taking the win somehow. I believe the RBs will soon be in the hunt: another Kimi Vettel duel would be exciting.
    Webber has a chance to give his season some credibility.

    Could be Raikkonen first into turn 1 but am I right his side of the grid is now the dirty side, James?

    1. James Clayton says:

      The Williams long run pace looked good. Williams vs Ferrari… how long has it been since we saw that?! :)

      1. clyde says:

        14 yrs to be precise

      2. James Clayton says:

        And wasn’t it a fantastic battle. All the talk of tyres to one side, it almost felt like the old times (except F aren’t running away with it this time!)

    2. Kevin says:

      I feel that this is a season that will reward constancy. With the cars so close in terms of performance and so many variables at play resulting in outcomes that my not reflect the true pace of the driver/car package, Webbers has acomplished alot by comparison.. An example of this would be Kimi falling from 3rd to 12th in 3 laps at sepang; because he couldn’t compete on worn tyres; contradicting that though is Alonso’s amazing “damage control” in a slightly inferior car. So perhaps Webber deserves more respect. Four forth places with 80% of the longest season ever left to run. RBR have yet to unlock all the performance from the car. As Vettel would tell you the only time you need to lead the points tally is after the last race.

  40. F1Fan says:

    Seems like Mclaren can’t help but try and give away as many of Lewis’ points as possible! Strategy, pit stops, fuel…

  41. LD01 says:

    Seems harsh on Hamilton, but as this rule is a new one, due to McLaren’s previous infringement, it’s not outrageous.

    The grid has made for an exciting race tomorrow.

  42. Xysion says:

    Alonso was about six tenths off pole which is around the mark I said yesterday. In practice he also showed good race pace. A good start and he could win. Hate to say it James but you were wrong. Gary Anderson said Ferrari were 0.8-0.9 seconds off the pace in the first four races so according to you, even with their updated car they never made any relative progress which was rather silly.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      I’d agree if Massa was in Q3, but 17th? You talk too much my friend.
      Funnily enough, even the magician Alonso says that is not their real performance level.

      1. Xysion says:

        Massa is not a reference point for Ferrari. Alonso is. Massa has been consistently well off Alonso’s pace since 2010. In Malaysia thia year he nearly got lapped by Alonso is one blatent example.

        Alonso has been managing expectations for this weekend and for the season. Pat Fry said the team made a good step forward.

  43. Boris Schleck says:

    Seems a bit of a disproportionate penalty considering how far in front of Maldonado Hamilton was. 6 tenths of a second cannot be explained away by the lack of fuel. Also, why not disqualify him from Q3 instead of the whole qualifying process? Seems more like a penalty suited to wilful abuse of the rules rather than an errr of judgement of the guy with the fuel can.

    1. David says:

      That seems to be the signal FIA want to give: they’re basically accusing McLaren of deliberate underfueling and then lying (claiming force majeure).

      That’s one point. The other, though, is the way qualifying has become increasingly drained of competition as everyone worries about tyres more than grid position. Hamilton shows he’s way ahead and basically other drivers like Vettel back off, deciding they’re not going to get pole so preserving a set of tyres is better. How is that right in terms of sport and in terms of spectacle, the famous ‘show’?

      1. Mike says:

        Totally agree David,imagine if they changed the rules of cricket every year,as they do in F1.
        In the fifties It was so thrilling to watch Moss driving through from the back of the field in an uncompetitive car. Just by his own ability.
        With Lewis using up his tyres in qualifying it seems less likely we’ll be able to have that pleasure, but I still hope so. I think Hamilton has been badly served by the stewards.after 62 years it’s about time that they had all the inconsistencies in the rules sorted out.

  44. massimosti says:

    McLaren’s operational capability is now becoming the laughing stock of the pitlane

    Too many self destructive disasters to be a coincidence – surely the board must start to ask questions of the race team. James do you think Martin Whitmarsh has used up all his nine lives?

    1. Tripletg says:

      Sam Michael ls was brought in to cover the operations side.I guess he isn’t doing a very good job.

      1. clyde says:

        he was pretty good at williams

    2. chavez says:

      I agree with you, I think Martin Whitmarsh is the one who needs to go, I am sorry for him, but at this level you just can’t have that many mistakes… plus, if I was him, I would leave the team for incompetent, step away, have some blood in your face and leave the comand to some other capable person.
      James, this mistake I am sure it is not the firt time it happened, can you please tell us, how was it handle in the past?.. I mean if this happened to another team, how did the FIA reacted? was there a penalty?, can you please tell us, I don’t want to think that FIA is against Mclaren and in favor of Ferrari, BUT… thanks.

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        This mistake has happened only one other time in the past. There was no rule against it then. So FIA reacted by creating a rule against it.

    3. D@X says:

      Well seems they have had more problems with Sam at helm of mclaren, look at Williams now!

  45. James Willford says:

    RIDICULOUS!!!! There is such inconsistency in the application of the rules by the stewards. Karthekayen is allowed to start from where he qualified even though it is way outside of the 107% time, whereas Hamilton is punished excessively! If he keeps suffering like this he will surely just leave F1 and we will lose an incredible talent.

    1. Dizzy says:

      “Karthekayen is allowed to start from where he qualified even though it is way outside of the 107% time”

      narain was only outside 107% as he had a problem which prevented him been able to set a representative time.

      1. James Clayton says:

        He hasn’t been able to set a representative time ALL weekend

  46. Ed H says:

    Hard luck for Hamilton but to be honest it’s difficult for me to believe that Mclaren had an issue. Either Lewis consumed more fuel than expected (Highly unlikely) Or Mclaren fueled him a litre or so shorter than usual, because they were worried about the genuine threat from Maldonado? I agree with the stewards on this one, though it may seem harsh.

    And of course great news for Maldonado, meaning he now starts on the clean side of the grid! Will be fascinating to see if he can hold off Alonso, in a role-reversal of Australia. Even with the improved pace of the top 2 I would expect a strong challenge from the Lotus cars, particularly Raikonen. Perez could perhaps jump one of them but I don’t think his Sauber could manage his usual strategy of 1 stop; Tyre degredation is high here.

    1. Ed H says:

      Ah, found out a bit more about what went wrong:

      Gary Anderson
      BBC F1 technical analyst: “The fuel rig guy put the rig on, but he had the handle set to drain fuel. He discovered his mistake and switched it to put fuel in the car. But as a result he didn’t put as much fuel in it as he should have. You have to be able to drive back to the pit-lane and have one litre of fuel left for the FIA to test. He went across the start-finish line 20 seconds before the chequered flag but if they had sat in the garage for three or four more seconds to get more fuel in, they still would have had time to cross the line and complete another flying lap. Sometimes I don’t think McLaren think on their feet.”

      So, genuine human error, which so easily could have been corrected. They can see how much they put in the tank surely; so why send him out if you know he’s gonna get disqualified for being underweight? Like Gary says here it’s better safe than sorry, and on this occasion Mclaren were just a bit too inflexible. If they couldn’t have changed the fuel they put in, they could still have told Lewis to abandon his final flying lap and go back to the pits: He would still be 7th on the grid, abielt slightly disapointed but in a good position for the race and not 24th as he now is…

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Sam Michael, Williams move forward when he left
        Mclaren stumble and bumble around

  47. F1Fan says:

    The team should score no points, but demoting driver to the back of the grid seems harsh – for the team’s mistake. Perhaps a time adjustment to account for the fuel would have been fair.

  48. Bob Smith says:

    Hi James,

    Why is there a difference between a driver failing to get back to pitlane after qualifying, and failing to get there after the race?

    There were at least two drivers who stopped at the end of the pitlane at the Bahrain Grand Prix, if I remember correctly.


    PS… extremely harsh decision, in my opinion. Deletion of Q3 time seems more appropriate.

    1. bob says:

      The difference is pretty easy to figure out.

      On qualy, a driver has fuel for 2 qualy laps, in lap and out lap. tops. In a race, the initial fuelling covers 50-60 laps.

      Therefore, almost running out of fuel in the race means being off by 2 percent, give or take. Given that fuel usage changes for a variety of factors, it’s not as if a driver’s performance changes all that much bu that little fuel.

      But in qualy, the difference is huge. We are not talking of a minor miscalculation. If I ask you to count a pile of 300 pennies, and you are off by 3, it can be a simple, honest mistake. if I give you 6, and you only count 3? Completely different.

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        What is the point of this rule? Does it improve the competition? Does it improve safety? Does it improve … what?

      2. James Clayton says:


      3. Peppers says:

        I would have thought that putting a little less fuel in would make a huge difference over the course of the race.

        Take the guys at bahrain (Vettel and someone else wasn’t it?) they needed another laps worth of fuel to get back round the track. If each lap of fuel adds say .2 seconds per lap, then over the course of 50 laps they would have a 10 second advantage.

        Fairly significant with the close racing we are getting at the moment.

        I am a huge Lewis fan, and am very disappointed that he will be starting so far back. I think the rules are pretty clear, so I don’t think he has been hard done by in that respect, but would like to know why the rules are there, and why it is just for qualifying.

    2. Brace says:

      First of all, in a race, once you cross the the finish line, the race is over and no one is blazing full speed next to you anymore since it’s an in-lap for everyone who crosses the line.
      Compare that with qualifying where you could happen to be slowing down on a track while someone is doing their fast lap and either screwing their lap or worse, causing an accident.

      Also, it’s quite easy to calculate how much fuel you will exactly burn over 3 laps.
      Calculating exactly 70 laps of fuel for example is impossible since there are a lot of factors and consumption itself changes as the car burns off the fuel. Then imagine additional safety car, running in slipstream, chasing someone, overtaking.
      Plus, punishment for running out of fuel one lap too soon can mean a difference between 1st and 15th place for example.

      Since every additional kg of fuel essentially has its cost in terms of a lap time, everyone would just fuel their car for two laps for quali run. Can you then imagine the chaos with 5 cars stopping on the track while others are blazing past them trying to set the time?

      I agree that it should perhaps only relate to the quali part in which it happened, thus making him start 10th, instead of last.
      If rule says, the penalty is DQ from quali, then they knew what they were playing with. If the steepness of the penalty is arbitrary, it think stewards went a bit too harsh.

      I also think short-fueling the cars for the race adds one more spice to the strategy and tactics, requiring much more precision and you can never know if they will cut it just too close and stop on the last lap, which is a penalty in itself.
      On the other hand, there’s not much drama in short-fueling the car to do 2 instead of 3 laps, while advantage is too big.

      1. Bob Smith says:

        About point 2, if it is easy to calculate how much fuel is needed for 3 laps then Vettel et al knew with 3 laps to go that they didn’t have enough fuel to get to the end!

        They therefore had a choice: continue to the end of the race at full speed and not get back to the pitlane, or do 3 slower laps and get to the pitlane. So what really is the difference there?

        For the record, I agree that running out of fuel in qualifying is worse than in the race, but I can’t see why it is so harshly punished in qualifying and not cared about at all in the race…

        Regarding safety, that’s not really an issue if a car accidentally runs out of fuel, is it? The stewards will be DQ’ing Senna for spinning out next if that’s the case…

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      I would imagine its because no-one would start a race with insufficient fuel, knowing they wouldn’t finish, whereas any weight saving in qualifying is deemed a big advantage.

  49. Deserved penalty. Why McLaren have to resort to this is beyond me.

    1. Boris Schleck says:

      I’m assuming you feel that Mclaren made a tactical decision (that, by the way, they would have known from the outset they wouldn’t get away with) to save a couple of kilos of weight because they needed the extra gains in order to qualify strongly? What a bizarrely mistaken viewpoint.

      1. F1Fan4Life says:

        How do you know they would not have gotten away with it? They have done the same thing before. In most countries, if you commit to an unfair advantage a second time in your life, you certainly aren’t looked upon leniently. Apparently in the Court of Hamilton fan’s, he should have been just reminded of the rules and given a pat on the back for being a half second ahead of a Williams? The rules are clear for everyone. Whether they tried to gain an advantage, or simply messed up, they failed to properly qualify. Next time they should not try and be too smart, and follow the rules. The penalty makes sure they feel there is no more wiggle room. I think justice is served. As for the fans moaning and groaning about Mclaren ruining it for the golden child, keep fooling yourselves. They put out on of the fastest cars on the grid, there are about 16 drivers who would be happy to take on Hamilton’s problems. He can leave Mclaren, it won’t make him a better driver.

    2. HFEVO2 says:

      Are you seriously suggesting this was a deliberate act by McLaren ?

      This is a ridiculous suggestion

      1. Timwahoo says:

        No, she is suggesting they knew the car was under fueled and should have bit the bullet and aborted teh lap

      2. Doobs says:

        Smartar** Maccas being too clever for their own good and got their sums wrong..?

  50. Robert Gunning says:

    I get the feeling, just as they did in 2005, McLaren are throwing their chances of the championship away. Botched strategies in Malaysia, China, Bahrain, and now this!

  51. Charlie B says:

    I don’t see how anyone can have any complaints, it may seem harsh but rules are rules and they’re the same for everyone.

    The fact that it was Hamilton/McLaren who made the FIA clarify the rule after getting away with it in Canada makes it feel more fitting.

    At the end of the day, McLaren only has themselves to blame. Too many mistakes from a team that wants perfection.

    1. chavez says:

      Rules are rules, yes, but what makes you say they are the same for everybody…
      Jaques Villenue, JP Montoya and even Fernando Alonso, at one point said that the Formula one circus was a joke… Senna Prost, etc…

      1. Charlie B says:

        I haven’t noticed the “Driver specific punishment” section the the regulations. Maybe they have but I somehow doubt that.

  52. Justin says:

    I feel that this was a bit harsh to demote to the back of the grid. Surely the removal of his fastest time would have been sufficient. But seems again that the Mclaren make a silly mistake yet again

  53. Andrew says:

    I was dreading the news of Lewis’ inevitable penalty but when I saw the result I just laughed – this penalty is beyond ridiculous.

    The Pirelli tyres only compound my despair, on descent tyres it might have been exciting watching Lewis carve his was through the pack but Pirelli’s just don’t allow drivers to race in this way.

    1. F12012 says:

      Totally agree Andrew

    2. Alex says:

      Indeed. With other tyres it would’ve been fun to see Lewis race through the pack. Not possible with these tyres – his race was ruined, as usual, by McLaren and FIA.

      Ridiculous punishment for a tiny error, which wasn’t his error. Judges are supposed to be FAIR. A fair sentence would’ve been to remove 3 tenths off Lewis time, as the fuel would never have affected it more than that.

      1. splidge says:

        It’s sadly only your opinion that “Judges are supposed to be FAIR”. The judges in F1 (stewards) generally seem to more punitive than “fair”.

        Does anyone know if they still have an ex-driver assisting the stewards this year? I’ve not heard mention of it.

  54. D@X says:

    Well the rules are the rules, it’s a shame but Hamilton and Webber must be the unluckiest drivers on the grid. Still I think we maybe in for a good show. At least 2 safety cars.

  55. d.h. says:

    Whoever made the ultimate decision to send Hamilton out light on fuel, needs to be relieved of their duties.
    After finishing over half a second in front of P2, what a stupid choice it was.
    It has also denied up a Hamilton/Maldonado first corner incident.

  56. iceman says:

    What happened to the mechanic who got taken off the left-rear tyre change after Bahrain? He didn’t get switched to the refuelling job did he :)

  57. Hermann says:

    What’s happening at McLaren? They’re repeating too many mistakes. During these four races we’ve seen too many pit stop blunders. Now a repeat of the Canadian fuel issue.

  58. BasilBeDemented says:

    That’s not a steep punishment it’s effing vertical, there was enough fuel for them to test so if the fuel sample has no irregularities then just strip that time.

    At least he put a competitive time in rather than coast around that should warrant a penalty IMHO not stopping on track. Regardless of Lewis’ penalty this rule/loophole has to changed as it’s ridiculous i’m in favour of extra points for qualifying if that’s the only way to get teams to run.

  59. Kevin H says:

    This really sucks. Hamilton was clearly the quickest of all the runners and deserves to be on pole for his achievement!

  60. Jake says:

    Is there any way that McLaren can appeal the severity of the penalty?

  61. Ian R says:

    Being a McLaren Fan!! This is not good news again shooting themselves in the foot, when they probably have the best car there especially in Lewis’s hands. But rules are rules so we get to see Hamilton coming through the pack. In a way since I have a soft spot for William’s it is good to see them on Pole again, and in a way hope they can convert it into a win tomorrow.

  62. JamesF says:

    Mistake or not. The way that the team tried to weasel their way out of it was kind of insulting.

  63. daphne says:

    I cant fathom this – surely he should have been excluded from just Q3, and put back in 10th place?

  64. Seba says:

    Really got to feel for Lewis here as mclaren errors have cost him yet again. Will he put up with this much longer? I seriously can’t ever remember another driver being cost so much by team errors.

    Also this penalty seems very harsh, why could it not have been a 5 place penalty putting him right to the back is surely a bit strong handed.

  65. What on earth is happening with Mclaren?

    Fumble after fumble, unreal!

  66. F12012 says:

    Something has to done about this qualifying, the average person is paying hundreds of pounds/euro to watch drivers warm tyres in final qualifying and other drivers don’t even set a time, as for Hamilton a 5 place grid penalty would have enough, as he most likely would have got pole even with enough fuel

    1. OscarF1 says:

      He might have been able to do, only he didn’t.

  67. ledio says:

    Good call.

  68. Peter Jones says:

    Who is ultimately responsible for calculating fuel levels in the car?



      1. ReviLO says:

        Lewis’s fuel enginer r ersons assocated withmfuelling hs car are are clearly idiots. this is not the first time they have taken fuel out instead of putting fuel in.. I will say again….. Good god….. ! How hard can that be? I tell u what I’ll do it for fun, I’m sure i would know the difference between put in and take out!!!!!

      2. ReviLO says:

        What I meant to say was….. Lewis’s fuel engineer or persons responsible for fuelling his car are clearly idiots. See my previous post for full comment.

  69. Philippe Lasry says:

    Rules are rules…

    1. Peter Abatan says:

      Rules are rules, as long as you can use a cane for one and a sword for the other right?

  70. olderguysrule says:

    Hey James, was this some sort of mechanical mistake or another guy who made a mistake under pressure? Either way I feel bad for their guys, but having said that, it seems there’s been a lot of mistakes or mechanical’s in their pit lately.

      1. tim says:

        Is this a Sam Michael responsibility?

      2. OscarF1 says:

        I spot several human errors:
        1- Under fuelling
        2- Not aborting the flying lap (hence, keeping 7th position)
        3- Not admitting having under fuelled and claiming Force Majeure (“perhaps” receiving a lesser penalty).

  71. Carl Sheen says:

    Would someone explain to me how this is different to the several cars that stopped after the Bahrain GP (without punishment) for the same reason????

    1. Chris R says:

      I agree, it happens quite often. Im starting to think the stewarding needs sorting out, seems very hit and miss lately.

    2. Dizzy says:

      There’s no rule about stopping on track at the end of a race.
      I believe the reason is that its much harder to calculate precise fuel levels over a full race distance.
      plenty of examples of the race pace been faster than expected resulting in higher fuel consumption.

    3. Carl Sheen says:

      If they gain an advantage in qualifying the same is true in the race. All those people that stopped short last race carried less fuel (the same amount less than Hamilton in this session).

      Hamilton gets penalised with 23 place grid drop for having the weight advantage over one lap and the others escape punishment for the weight advantage over an entire race distance.

      it just stinks of unfairness.

  72. J tyler says:

    Oh sweet Jesus I just love f1. I have no idea who will win tomorrow.

  73. Grabsplatter says:

    So, what are the chances of a Lotus win? Will the ghost of Colin Chapman be throwing his cap into the air tomorrow?

    1. Charlie B says:

      What about a Lotus 1-2, it could happen.

      1. Lynn says:

        Lotus 1-2 that would be sweet!
        Or a Williams win.

  74. Bob says:

    I entirely agree there should be a rule to stop teams from under filling but the punishment should be proportional to the infringement.

    Punishments which would have been fairer:
    5 place grid penalty
    10 place grid penalty
    Discount the time set on the run in which the car stopped out on track
    Discount all times from that qualifying session

    Vettel didn’t even bother to set a time and starts 8th when Hamilton is dead last because of a fuel pump failure.

    It is frustrating that F1 is more a result of blind luck that true skill of performance.

    1. Rob Newman says:

      Vettel is not the only person who did not set a time in Q3. Also, unlike Hamilton, all the others had enough fuel to get back to the pit.

    2. Don says:

      It was not fuel pump error it was human error.

    3. James Draper says:

      I thought the same thing. How much fuel did Maldonado have left in his first run? Probably less than his second run which is why he was slower….

      McLaren on the other hand should have aborted the lap they know better.

  75. surya says:

    This is completely ridiculous and highly disappointing. What else shoould Hamilton do to prove that he is still good and it is the team which is letting him down. Martin Whitmarsh is making a fool of himself, and letting the history of Mclaren down. Hell Even HRT knows this rule despite not even qualifying within the 107% rule. James the only surprising thing is if lewis is Stripped of his Pole he should be technically starting from 11th (Only Q3 times to be discounted) whereas he has been releagated to the end of the field which is completely unfair, I have a big doubt that there is a seperate rule book with a title “”Punishments for Lewis Hamilton””.

  76. Wildbob says:

    Unfortunate but rules are rules. Still set for a great race tomorrow across the grid…

  77. Philippe Lasry says:

    Rules are rules… I’m a Maca fan but they seem to be off their A-game.

  78. sjm says:


    I think McLaren is doing all it can frustrate LH.

    I say to hell with them Lewis, why stay where you are not wanted!!??

    1. kp says:

      Agreed. Just a shame no other team wants him either.

      1. sjm says:

        Lets wait and see..

    2. James Clayton says:

      McLaren are purposely making sure Hamilton gets sent to the back of the grid, making themselves look total arses, and missing out on the opportunity of 25 constructors points in the process?

      These conspiracies theories are getting beyond a joke!

  79. Paul J says:

    Feel bad for Lewis – he was obviously very, very happy with this pole. Seems like the macca pit crew have not been in top form this season.

    As a Williams fan I can’t help but smile about it though! Let’s hope the inexperience of starting from pole doesn’t cause pastor to do something stupid.

  80. Trespasser says:

    Seems a bit harsh to me but a mistake was made so maybe the penalty is fair.

    I am a McLaren fan since 1988 and I will be a fan as long as the team exists but boy they make it tough sometimes. With such mistakes I cannot blame Lewis for thinking of moving to another team.

    Get it together boys!

  81. A.Fant says:

    As Lewis was on track for his last attempt McLaren knew he didn’t have enough fuel. But instead of pitting him they decided to pull a fast one, set a time, and hope the stewards would let them off the hook.

    The penalty was deserved IMO.

  82. oudinot says:

    Meanwhile, in this increasingly labarynthine sport, teams can choose to stick two fingers up at the paying fans and the TV audience by not bothering to set a time, and have Eddie Jordan coo-ing about what a wonderful spectacle qualifying was…
    Why has F1 become so silly, yes, plain silly, and so driven by negative technology (like deliberately dodgy tyres to name one example)?

  83. Kedar says:

    Unacceptable mistake by mclaren I remember Lewis was allowed his pole in Canada for a similar case, but this was once too many now

  84. Richard B. says:

    i’ll be amazed if martin really believed they wouldn’t get a penalty. mclaren need to sort themselves out, fumbled pit stops and now this, major mistakes – they make HRT look sharp.

  85. Steven says:

    Also, why is the drive penalized? Hes not the one putting fuel in his car, Team Jenson should be penalized, not the driver.

    Im very pissed about this whole thing, Lewsi goes and does his job better than everyone else, but the team finds a way to screw him..

  86. Robb says:

    Wow! McLaren giving a textbook example this year on how to take a car and driver combination that could be leading the championship, and keep them from doing so.

    Lewis has driven well this year, controlled and consistent in the races, while generally the fastest qualifier, but has not been allowed to reap the benefits of his performances.

    I understand that mistakes happen, but with McLaren’s experience and resources, they should be few and far between.I think they have made more in this season so far than Red Bull made all last year.

  87. Bobby says:

    Agree with all those comments saying why bother setting a lap at all. FIA and the stewards are a bunch of pen-pushers.

    Don’t set a time, start 7th (Vettel) do a 1:21 and start at the back of the grid. Go figure.

    I wish I didn’t care so much about this sport that I could take a sabbatical. Just bought tickets to the British Grand Prix but this sort of thing really detracts from the glory.

    1. CH1UNDA says:

      I have watched only one live race all year and haven’t watched any of the practise sessions – i did not set out the year planning to do that but with this tip toing on gummy tyres, there are better ways to spend my money and time. I guess formula 1 set out to attract new fans and they seem like they are ending up loosing quite a few old ones. As we speak, i am off on my mountain bike and will be back after six hours for the results.

  88. Nigel says:

    James, can tell us what it is that McLaren’s Sporting Director does ?

    (I think Lewis might be interested, too.)

  89. Ian says:

    I didn’t think they could top the farce that was Spa 2008, but this absolutely ridiculous, heavy-handed and totally disproportionate penalty marks a new low for the stewards.

    Throughout his F1 career Lewis has been plagued by a series of consistently unfair sanctions and punishments courtesy of this assembly of imbeciles – today just adds another travesty to the list.


    If it was an honest mistake by Mclaren, why not issue a reprimand? If they suspect it was an intentional act, why not remove the time he set on the offending final run in Q3? Or failing that, why not issue a 5 place grid penalty as warning to other teams? Keeping in mind that the stewards still obtained their required fuel sample (with fuel to spare) – this sets an absolutely ludicrous precendent!

    1. Judith says:

      It is is quite clear that “cruel and unusual” punishments applied to LH do NOT set a precedent. If they did Rosberg would have been kicked out of the last race for one. Interesting that Alonso’s beef was not with not punishing Rosberg, but not punishing Lewis for “leaving the track”.

      There are no “rules is rules”, there is a special set of rules and punishments for Lewis and Mclaren made up as the FIA and stewards go along and then ignored or bent for other teams.

  90. Gareth says:

    This would never have happened under Ron Dennis

    1. ESLKid75 says:

      I agree. Ron would have been livid and fired someone a long time ago…

    2. Phil R says:

      Silverstone ’91, Germany ’91, Silverstone ’92, Silverstone ’93…

  91. JB says:

    James, will Hamilton get all new tyres for the race? I mean, all of his Q3 results were annulled?

  92. Tom King says:

    The punishment seems highly excessive, and you have to wonder whether Mr Alonso would have received the same sanction – I highly doubt it!

    The thing that fails to escape my attention is that since Sam Michael arrived at McLaren – with the brief to improve raceday operations and maximising results from the race weekends – McLaren have been an absolute shambles on the track; and Williams have seen an upturn in fortunes.

    The pistops have been abysmal robbing both drivers of significant points, strategy calls have been poor (dropping LH into traffic in China springs to mind), and this latest error is simply staggering.

    It’s time for Sam Michael to earn his sizeable pay packet.

  93. smellyden says:


    Is this really Mclaren we talking about? I mean as a team there has been a catalogue of errors at the team recently with failed pit stops and now this.

  94. Richard says:

    Well again McLaren mess up! They are past masters at giving away points, and this latest mistake by them will probably cost Hamilton dear. That said I think the decision making by the stewards seems to be based on no tolerance in this instance as it is quite clear that Hamilton thoroughly deserved pole position with 0.578 seconds lead with each tenth equating to 1 litre of fuel. They really do deserve the jobsworth price for that decision.
    So the remaining question is what can they do with strategy from 24th on the grid. I think perhaps a two stop strategy on hard tyres might be the way to go assuming the others will be on 3 or 4.

  95. Dizzy says:

    All those whining about the penalty been unfair or bias or whatever.

    The rule is black & white, It was clearly broken & there is a pre-determined penalty which was applied.

    Like Johnny Herbert said on sky (As an Ex-Driver steward) the stewards can only apply the penalty given under the regulations.

  96. Mad Marz says:

    Hi James,

    Please ask/answer the question, why can 2 cars run out of fuel and not complete the inlap in the last race, yet Hamilton is disqualified for this?
    When are we going to get consistancy from the stewards?

    1. Carl Sheen says:

      Here here.

      Shocking inconsistency.

  97. Simon stillwell says:

    Didn’t Rosberg and vettel both stop at the end of qualy just after start/finish line at Bahrain therefore not making it back to pitlane??, did they get a penalty… NO, its always Lewis if f1 isn’t carefully he will give up.

  98. anom says:

    Rules are rules, but let’s destroy lewis and let people race who are illegaly slow or don’t bother to qualify. Bleurgh.

  99. AndyK says:

    I Agree with whoever noted you can stay parked in the garage, not even bother to set a time.. and incur no penalty.. Truly excessive I think!

  100. kevsuths says:

    Really disappointed Mclaren have made a stupid mistake like this, I know they have made a few lately but talk of Lewis leaving is a bit premature yet.
    Lewis hasn’t had the best of seasons the last couple of years and Mclaren have stuck with him.
    Mclaren need to stick together and get over these silly mistakes.
    The championship is still wide open.
    Hopefully Lewis will get fresh tyres tomorrow and work his way through. I think good consistent points will win the championship this year.

  101. Nick Hipkin says:

    I think today summed Mclaren up this year, they have the fastest car but even that’s not enough for them as they continually make operational mistakes and that’s why they wont win the title this year.

    Its amazing how many errors they make behind the pitwall for a top team.

    Feel very sorry for Lewis

  102. CarlH says:

    What an utterly stupid mistake from McLaren. I’ve always maintained that Lewis should sign a new contract with them ASAP, but looking at their continued mistakes I’m starting to change my opinion. He must feel that the team are going to blow most of the opportunities he gets to become World Champion.

    P.S. Crofty mentioned during quali that he’d met a fan who put money on Maldonado to get pole at 200/1. It’s a shame that guy will probably miss a great race tomorrow due to his epic hangover…..

  103. Andrew says:

    Didn’t several drivers fail to complete their in laps in the Bahrain GP due to low fuel? I don’t remember hearing about penalties for these drivers? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    I think finishing a race with insufficient fuel is a greater offence because drivers have ample time to adjust their fuel usage and, more importantly, Sunday is when the points are handed out.

  104. Gatsby says:


  105. aezy_doc says:


    Does Lewis now get to use new tyres for the whole race as mentioned earlier?
    Not sure if being disqualified allows this or not.

  106. Aey says:

    Why don’t strip the fault lap out and use the next best complete lap?

    This penalty is too much and unreasonable at all.

    He get to Q3 cleanly, at worst, he should be at 10th, as he didn’t do any lap in Q3.

    I would like to know that exclude for the qualifying is written in the rule, or just the steward decision.

    I really feel sorry for the engineer and designer group, they have made very good car for good driver, but the pit crew let the whole team down so often, let the fans down also.

    I curious why this season, Lewis always hit with the bad luck, 5 of 5 he did a very good job but something always go against him, very sorry.

  107. Lee says:

    Sam Michael leaves Williams, Williams start to sort themselves out.

    Sam Michael goes to McLaren and things in the McLaren garage start to turn to custard.

  108. Nigel says:

    In Hamilton’s position, I’d be tempted not to race tomorrow.

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

    1. JB says:

      Hamilton is a RACER. He doesn’t give up.

      1. Nigel says:


  109. Robert N says:

    Will the season stats and record books say that Button outqualified Hamilton at the Spanish GP 2012?

    1. SketchCND says:


  110. F1Fan says:


    1) Is exclusion (for this infringement) from the entire qualifying a mandatory punishment under the rules?

    2) Is there a similar rule for stopping on the track after a race to save fuel? If not, is there an explanation for this?

  111. Vinola says:

    Whitmarsh’s job is surely on the line. I dont see him surviving this season unless McLaren wins both championships.

    F1 rules are truly farcical. My initial reaction was not to watch the race tomorrow. Ironically, we’ve had the best racing in F1 in years this season. Oh well.

  112. Aey says:

    Article 6.6.2 reads: “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.”

    Is this Article means the race and qualifying, or only for qualifying?

    After the race, we have seen several car stop on track and not returning to the pit with its own power, but nothing happen.

    If it only apply for qualifying, why its not apply to the race?

    Can someone explain this for me. thank.

    1. SketchCND says:

      “…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.”

      You answered your own question!!!!

      1. Stephen says:

        Qualifying isn’t a practice session. Another rule open to interpretation.

      2. OscarF1 says:


      3. Stephen says:

        So under this rule no penalty would be applied to Lewis because qualifying is not a practice session.

    2. kfzmeister says:

      also,….where is it written what sort of penalty is to be given?????

  113. Kevin Green says:

    rules are rules right enough dodgy fuel additive springs to mind!!! where the hell did .5 of a second come from anyway?? even though he is relegated they should now ( the FIA ) pursue a very very close analysis of the remaining fuel in the car regardless.

    1. ESLKid75 says:

      They did. He stopped the car so that there would still be 1.3 liters to sample. The FIA requires 1 liter. Fuel was deemed legal, so not the problem. The .5 of a second difference was all Lewis.

      1. Myer says:

        No, Lewis could not make it to the pits like everyone else – he stopped on track. He clearly didn’t have enough fuel to get back to the pits + provide a 1 litre sample.

        If he had attempted to get back to the pits, he may have had an empty tank.

        1 litre = 0.4 seconds…..

        Chances are though, he should have been 0.1 ahead …

      2. ESLKid75 says:

        You should read this website closer:

        Cost per 10kg of fuel (roughly 10 liters of fuel, but you imperial system people have a problem with decimals it seems) = 0.4 sec per lap. Or: 1kg of fuel (roughly 1 liter of fuel) = 0.04 sec per lap.

        Basically the time was all Lewis, no cheat…

  114. Michael Grievson says:

    Id like to hear the conversation between Martin Whitmarsh and Ron Denis. I can’t imagine these mistakes happening if Ron was still at the helm.

  115. kp says:

    In my opinion the penalty isn’t harsh enough. Disqualification would seem more appropriate. After all, the team has been caught ‘kind of’ cheating.

    1. OscarF1 says:

      Actually, the team was caught cheating.
      Underfuelling might have been a honest mistake.
      Not giving up their flying lap seems to be intended.
      Stopping the car in the off lap to be able to provide the 1 litre sample is obviously premeditated.
      Finally, claiming Force Majeure to avoid punishment was utterly childish.

      They tried to take advantage of an illegal action (setting a time with at least 2.5 kilos less of fuel than their competitors), were caught on the spot and were granted the deserved punishment.

  116. Alex O says:

    back of the grid is harsh but Mclaren have form for this. They can have no complaints on this one. Go Fernando!!!!!1

  117. Mike says:

    Rules are rules. Although it does seem very harsh. A greater crime is not bothering to set a fast lap in Q3. I think teams forget that F1 is a source of entertainment. Why bother with Q3. Just have Q1 and Q2. Or start handing out championship points to the top 3 qualifiers.

  118. ColinZeal says:

    Does moving into top ten grid slot due to penalties of other mean you no longer have choice of starting tyre or is this privilege decided by qualifying time not grid position?

    i.e. Will Jenson still have a choice and will Lewis still be locked into fastest lap set of tyres?

    McLaren need to assess team operations in general. Too many simple errors over the past number of seasons I think.

  119. Tomma says:

    Poor all round from the FIA and Mclaren. Feel sorry for Lewis. Just hope this doesn’t prove to have an outcome on the championship as I think it’s been massively mishandled. I’m afraid the “Lewis” factor has also played a part here too, I don’t know why but he seems to attract outrageous decisions from the FIA.

  120. chris says:

    Is it right that Vettel did the same thing (stopping on in-lap to preserve enough fuel for scrutineering sample)in Bahrain qualifying but nothing happened? I didn’t see or hear on radio that qualifying session.

  121. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Junk tyres and sending him to the back of the grid.

    How many other ways can the FIA come up with to screw up the fastest driver in F1?

  122. Jonny Edwards says:

    Way too harsh. I would say that Mclaren tried to dupe the stewards into thinking that they stopped for reasons other than lack of fuel. If that’s the case then the penalty is fair.

  123. F1_Badger says:

    No doubt that McLaren are once again making life hard for themselves (as ever)!

    …but let’s remember how many times Lewis has thrown away points and results due to poor performances!

    I’m a life long McLaren fan (well since I can remember) and a fan of Lewis. I’d just like to see them both performing to their potential at the same time!!

    1. Spanco says:

      Sure, Hamilton made a lot of mistakes in 2011.

      But this year he hasn’t and all the points thrown away in 2012 were because of a dodgy strategy, bad pit stops, a gear change and now this.

    2. Spanco says:

      I meant a gear BOX change.

  124. Nick H says:

    Its become disaster after disaster for Mclaren with the sort of mistakes you would think would be likley by back of the grid teams.

  125. Nik Simpson says:

    This is an outrageous punishment, I’m really beginning to wonder whether I want to spend time watching the damn races anymore.

  126. dwillis says:

    It really couldn’t get any more frustrating for Hamilton than putting in a dominant qualifying run only to see another bit of human error put him to the back of the grid.

    Compounding the mistake, since he participated in Q3, will be the state of his tires. Will he still have to start on the used softs he ran on his last qualifying attempt. If so he will be at a tire disadvantage compared with everyone in front of him that didn’t either (1) make it through to Q3 or (2) put in a run in Q3.

    It could make for a very long day in the car for Lewis.

  127. Joel says:

    Ok, I think I’m becoming a fan of Ferrari…

  128. Ben says:

    Harsh penalty which will be compounded by the tyre situation. Maybe if Whitmarsh hadn’t been so evasive the penalty would have been lesser.

    I feel for Lewis but am excited for Williams!

  129. VSCL says:

    I just feel sorry for Lewis, not his fan but this is just too harsh. Cancel of his lap time in Q3 will sill put him 8th based on Q2 time.

    Interesting to see what overall he will wear next season. Red or Bull?

  130. neil says:

    This sport has become a complete and utter joke. I think I’ve just about had enough…

  131. AlexD says:

    James, can you explain how this situation is different from rosberg stopping after the race this year?

  132. Sossoliso says:

    James,’am I missing something about this rule? Is the said rule just for quali or the entire week end? I remember Vettel and Rosberg stopping on track at the end of the last race. Does the rule not apply in this case?

    If I were Hamilton, he should not compound the issue by doing desperate stuff on track tomorrow. Just use the race as a good practice session, have fun with the car and tyres (every little helps!) and take a 0pts. I suspect any mistake he makes like coming together with any one would incure a deferred penalty applied in Monaco. thereby going from one bad week to 2.

  133. D Barraclough says:

    I can understand the need to penalise a potentially underweight car, but surely the deletion of ALL times is over-excessive. Especially given the overwhelming gap Lewis had over the rest of the field, surely larger than a laps worth of fuel (usually 2 tenths at most tracks if I remember correctly?).

    1. SketchCND says:

      The rule has absolutely nothing to do with the car weight. The FIA require the fuel sample to test against the control sample the team supplied at the beginning of the event to ensure it compile with the regs.

      Minimum car weight would be a different infraction!

  134. Richard says:

    The really annoying thing is that they have a good car, and seem to be consistently messing things up. It’s not the way to win a championship, and I’m beginning to think Martin Whitmarsh runs too slack a ship, people are distracted and don’t seem to have their minds on the job.

  135. DB says:

    Will Karthikeyan be allowed to start? I think he shouldn’t.

  136. Jonno says:

    Sam Michael was taken on as Sporting Director at McLaren,

    “…He forms part of our senior technical management team, primarily responsible for trackside operations…”

    Sam Michael has failed, not once or twice, but in every race this year. Time he received his P45.

  137. Craig D says:

    Oh dear McLaren. Poor Lewis. Dominated quali, a real morale boost for him and the team let him down again.

    Tyre changes and now refuel engineers. Everyone is human and make mistakes but McLaren’s pit department is a total joke at the moment. The team are costing Lewis a championship. He hasn’t a contract for next year too; the team’s mistakes should provide him with real bargaining power.

    So many of the top team drivers unhappy today, namely Webber (also team’s fault) and Button.

    Surely Raikkonen is the favourite to win this. Grojean is driving well but Kimi has the winners experience. Should be a fun race at least!

    Lastly, I think quali rules need changing. Let them start on any tyres they like so drivers are not inclined to sit out q3. Or penalise if don’t set a lap.

  138. the don says:

    does lewis get new tyres?

    1. James Draper says:

      I think FIA are making him run on intermediates and full wets.

  139. Richie says:

    An absolutely ridiculous punishment which is quite rightly being ridiculed by the majority on here. Why is this being punished so much more severely than a blocking infringement in qualifying? Or a gearbox change? Removing Lewis’ best time would be more than adequate.

    Is this penalty written in the rule book or is it another example of “cross-your-fingers and hope that the stewards are in a good mood today”, make it up as you go along punishment?!

    Does anybody know the rules regarding cars stopping on the cool down lap of the race due to low fuel?

    Also, people spewing their “McLaren are out to get Lewis” conspiracy fantasies need their heads looked at.

    1. SketchCND says:

      When they stop “run out of fuel” post race on the in lap..it is generally to ensure they have the required 1litre on board for scrutineering. They only have to make it back to parq ferme Under their own steam for this in practise sessions – of which qualifying is such

      Check 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations

  140. Jason says:

    What happens then if a driver sets their fastest time on there first run? Does the car give a fuel sample after each run in qualifying?

    1. Kwanna says:

      Excellent question. Could someone please provide an answer. James, can you help?

  141. Michael says:

    James do u have any idea what’s going on at Mclaren with Whitmarsh, Hamilton, the team, etc…? This is turning into a joke!

  142. Gin says:

    Horrible decision by the Stewards !

    I wonder if they can answer the question of why they have to disregard Lewis’ Q1 and Q2 times. It seems a little bit personal of a penalty seeing that if a Red Bull or if a Ferrari did this, they wouldn’t be promoted all the way into the back of the grid…

    I’m just disgusted with the decision. They’re the stewards and they should know better.

    Good luck to Lewis,Jenson and Fernando!

  143. Notna says:

    James, what are your thoughts on Sam Michael’s role in all of this?

    And to give away P1 to Williams…God, what a sport!

    1. Brace says:

      He had no roll in this, except being a messenger at best.
      It’s Hamilton’s engineers or someone higher. Sam Michael has no business with engineers though, even though being technically higher in team hierarchy, Hamilton’s engineers are not on his branch in terms of hierarchy tree.

  144. Daniel MA says:

    I guess the low fuel helped him to be half a second faster than everyone else!!!

  145. Andes says:

    McLaren are throwing away another season with unacceptable [by Rons standards] mistakes that border on incompetence.
    To under fill the car AGAIN when LH was already quick defies belief.
    Mr [one too many mistakes] Whitmarsh was adamant that there was enough fuel to get back to Parc ferme and give a sample, according to BBC and AS, so something is clearly amiss there considering the decision of the stewards?

    It seems that the FIA don’t really care about F1 fans being denied the true spectacle of the race by relegating LH to the back of the grid, when having his best time deleted would have been more appropriate.

    F1 is rapidly losing its political credibility as the Pinnacle of Motorsport.

  146. Mary says:

    It is about time the teams get penalised for team errors and not the driver, this was a team mistake that hamilton had no contol over and yet he has to suffer the consequences. James can you please either confirm or dispel the rumor that kobayashi also stopped after running out of fuel in Q2?

  147. Barracuda says:

    Totally unbelievable yet again from the FIA stewards. How is is justified to strip Hamilton of all his qualifying laps both in and outside of Q3? Anyone like to take a guess at how this would have been handled if it had happened to Vettel? Swept under the carpet I feel…..
    Seems McLaren did slip up though but seems grossly unfair to send him to the back of the grid. The FIA really don’t want him to be successful again in this sport.

  148. Joe B says:

    Completely gutted, Hamilton owned out there today. The punishment is a bigger crime than the underfuelling, it’s that disproportionate. Furthermore, what’s the difference between not having enough fuel for an in-lap in qualifying, or not having enough fuel for an in-lap in the race? Once again Hamilton finds himself screwed over by Mclaren’s mistakes and on the wrong end of the FIA’s over-zealous and selective penalties.

    Just no words for the huge levels of incompetence all round right now.

    1. Ryan Eckford says:

      The stewards did not seem to be in Bahrain, and know they hand down a penalty that is one of the worst in recent times. James, Do you think this incident is just as bad as Schumacher parking his Ferrari on the exit of La Rascasse at Monaco, preventing Alonso getting pole position? I challenge you to find people in F1 who think this.

      1. James Allen says:

        No. The view I’m hearing is that this seems a pretty tough penalty

      2. Ryan Eckford says:

        Yes, it was tough to the very extreme. I expected a five-place grid penalty, or a reprimand and a huge fine. What do the other drivers and teams think about this penalty handed down by the FIA?

      3. Richard says:

        This isn’t a punishment about the crime – it would be too harsh. I think this is a punishment for trying to ‘pervert the course of justice’ after the crime.

        No one seems to be talking about the brief from the press railings as the top three came out for the photo shoot after weigh in. Your BBC colleague said something about “don’t tell them the real reason you stopped Lewis”.

        Mr Witmarsh could have been honest with Jake – surely they all knew what had happened.

        And I’m a McLaren fan!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  149. Clare Racer says:

    The FIA stewards are anti Hamilton or McLaren. Why not a P6 or a P10?

    Better to attaempt to qualify than NOT make an attempt to save the tyres in my opinion.

  150. Nando says:

    In the last race Vettel was told over the radio to use his “push-to-pass” to defend against Raikkonnen; Vettel then failed to return to the car to the pits in breach of the regulations.
    I knew Rocky was a good engineer but I didn’t realise he was a superior force.
    ^^^ Rules are Rules ^^^

  151. Sean says:

    Wow! Harsh penalty. I thought he may get a 5 place penalty but back of the grid is a little too much. Hamilton must be seething. Why would Whitmarsh send him out knowing he didn’t have enough fuel to make it back to the pits?

  152. The Conspiracist says:

    Mistakes happen, and I’m sure after Alonso gets over excited going into the first corner taking Maldonado out, well I think the race is going to be a good one.

    I wonder what Ron will be doing tomorrow ?

  153. Stephen Hughes says:

    What exactly is the rule in these circumstances?

    He was stopped by the team to ensure they could prove to the stewards that the fuel they were running was legal. If there were any questions about that they’d have run him dry to avoid a worse penalty. At best it was an attempt to gain a small advantage in that particular session, at worst it was a mistake by the team.

    Either way, I can’t see how this affects his previous time, never mind the times he set in earlier sessions.

    Quite aside from the fact his margin was far, far higher than being slightly short on fuel would account for, his earlier times were set legally so I can’t see why they don’t stand.

    Unless there is something specific in the rules I can’t see why the punishment was harsher than him having his Q3 times deleted and starting 9th or 10th.

  154. Stewart says:

    I’m not a Lewis fan, but this does seem a bit excessive. 5 or 10 place penalty or deletion of his last time seems more proportionate, but the rules are the rules. Having said that, what is going on at Maclaren with all these mistakes? They used to be known for their almost robotic efficiency, now they seem intent on finding ever more bizarre ways to shoot themselves in the foot. I wonder if the pit crew has now become so scared of screwing up that they’re overthinking things that used to be natural, leading to more mistakes. Heaven knows, whatever the problem is, they need to sort it out, and sort it out quickly. As a matter of interest James, do the pit crew come under Sam Michael’s control, or is Martin Whitmarsh directly responsible for that area?

  155. ROBERTO MARQUEZ says:

    Red Bull is very powerfull , they could not beat Lewis on track , they beat him on “rules”, it is clear that the german is more marketable than Lewis. This might be the last Formula 1 race I will wacht, too much politics ,too little racing.

  156. Barry says:

    McLaren are a team who make championship winning cars and we are supposed to believe they are this incompetent? I’m sorry but it reminds me of when Ferrari used to try and stretch the rules as much as they could even when they didn’t need to, but not enough time to put the fuel back in? correct me if i’m wrong but don’t those rigs pump at 10+ litres per second?

    As soon as I saw it I thought it shouldn’t be allowed as other drivers had to carry more weight to make it back to the pit lane. The punishment is ridiculous though, put him to the back of Q3 maybe but not the entire grid.

    The stewards need to be the same group of people at every single race to keep decisions consistent, it’s almost like jury service the way it is now.

  157. BB says:

    Can someone dig out the rule book and see if the stewards had any choice in the stupidity….erm severity of the penalty? I would have thought disallowing that lap time would have been appropriate. Disqualification from Q3 would be harsh, but at least make the teams think about it. Disqualification from entire qualification session is daft. Once we reach Canada, Ham shouldn’t bother trying to qualify…..maybe do one lap one hard tyres and start 16th, instead of wasting tyres being faster than the rest of the field and starting last.

    For those that think McL did this on purpose to allow a fast lap, don’t forget – Hamilton set his first lap on used tyres. He would probably have been quick enough with an extra 10KG of fuel………..although, maybe it is a funding issue. Have you seen the price of petrol recently……:lol:

    Another question for people who know stuff – are the mechanics shared across the garage, or are there two entire teams? Could Whitmarsh be putting all the competent mechanics on his favourite side?

    1. AuraF1 says:

      The pit crews are the same for both jenson and Lewis so the moronic conspiracy theories need to stop. Jenson had the same pit stop holdup in china if any if these tin foil hat Lewis fanboys would care to remember a whole two races back.

      The engineers volunteer for the pit crew task. They do not get paid any extra or any extra glory for the added pressure. The guy on the left rear gun was clearly distraught and I suspect the whole mclaren pit crew has frozen up by putting more pressure on themselves. It’s a typical psychological reaction of overthinking – happens to most athletes and performers. Theferrari pit crew had many of the same problems in previous years but they’ve turned it around now.

      But seriously people before you drift off into the whacko land of whitmarsh hates Lewis drivel try to actually read about the pit crews and what they do. Remember they get paid very little in comparison to working in engineering groups elsewhere and they get their bonus based on the constructors championship – sabotaging Lewis would leave their families without extra money and they have already hit jenson with mistakes too.

      Seriously these guys and girls do a tough job and I can understand you insulting them for failure but insulting them for sabotage is pretty evil behavior.

  158. arw says:

    While I feel the penalty is harsh on Hamilton, the same punishment was handed to Buemi at the 2011 German GP for a similar offence. If anything, the penalty is a surprising display of consistency from the FIA.

    1. bearforce1 says:

      lol consistency, you are right. The punishment is proscribed. There is no subjective element to what punishment was to be given for this offence.

  159. Steve JR says:

    The penalty does not fit the crime. F1 is all about the show and while it will be interesting to watch Hamilton burn through the back markers tomorrow, one can’t help feeling that the end result is not giving the viewers any sense of reality…this guy was easily the fastest man today and yet he’s given the position of the slowest man. I’m trying to imagine Vettel or Alonso being given such a harsh penalty for the same misdemeanor but they’d probably take a 5 place grid drop right?

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Vettel or Alonso, or anyone, would get the same penalty.

  160. DJS says:

    Why loss all Q1 and Q2 times. As has been said LH should have not gone out in Q3 and he would be starting 10th.

    Can anyone explain why Bruno Senna is not at the back of the grid; he didnt get back to the pits with his car!

    1. BB says:

      I’ve just had a thinking on my feet idea – Why didn’t they tell LH to resort to plan Z…..I.E. stick it in the gravel :lol:

      1. James Allen says:

        ..or just come back to the pits and take a chance that no fuel sample would be taken? It is random after all….

      2. James Clayton says:


        What do you suppose the penalty and negative publicity would have been if they were pulled up and there wasn’t enough fuel, though?

      3. Nigel says:

        “…or just come back to the pits and take a chance that no fuel sample would be taken?…”

        Except that would have changed what was a stupid mistake into a deliberate attempt to cheat.
        had they been discovered, I have no doubt they’d have been subject to an even harsher penalty in those circumstances.

        By stopping out on the track they at least ensured that their mistake was made public and there could be no question of their having attempted to gain an advantage by deliberately underfueling.

      4. Simple says:

        But what’s the penalty if they’re unable to supply a sample James?

  161. Haydn Lowe says:

    This seems absolutely absurd. I can’t believe that there are no provisions within the regs for proportionality of penalty because to drop him from pole to the back is grossly unfair on the driver who had no control whatsoever over the incident. I feel the same way about the engine penalties – how can a driver’s grid position be determined by a thrown piston or a leaking valve seal? It would make more sense for the penalties to be either team points, financial penalties or something along the lines of engineering staff being sidelined from the race, giving the team a disadvantage in the garage but without making the driver alone suffer. Whether that would work I don’t know, but what I do know is that making Lewis suffer for a simple error on the fuel rig is ridiculous, unfair and a bit of an insult to the viewing public.
    Still, go Alonso…

  162. RichP says:

    Early in Q3 Lewis posted a 1.22.560 and then returned to the pits (thereby satisfying Article 6.6.2 of the technical regulations: “… 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.” )
    Only when it became apparent that the late runners would eclipse this time did Lewis set out for another run (with insufficient fuel for an out, qualifying and in lap plus 1 litre for testing).
    Why does the early time – good enough for 6th on the grid – not remain?
    The legal grounds for the FIA’s actions seem very tenuous at best…

    1. ikkida says:

      The answer is in your own post itself – “… 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.”
      AFTER A PRACTICE SESSION, not DURING a practice session(here it stands for the final run). So if he had got out of the car after posting 6th fastest time, he would have kept it. But that didnt happen, he continued his session.

    2. The first time doesn’t stick because the stewards cannot prove it was legal at that point or at any point of qualifying.

    3. Toby says:

      Because it can be argued that they tried to cheat the system by underfuelng, so they get a punishment, not just a deletion, to discourage others from trying.

  163. Carl says:

    Back of the grid penalty is over the top! As many have said above, deletion of the final lap or maybe all of them from Q3 would have been far more appropriate, especially given the advantage Hamilton had over the entire field. I’m sure the FIA/Stewards will say rules and rules, but this seems amusing in light of today’s announcement that stewards will continue to use discretion for advantages gained when drives go off the track! Rules or common sense, what will it be?

  164. Andrew Kirk says:

    Off topic Question James what is happening to drivers who get into the last part of qualifying then don’t go out to save a set of tires? Surely this rule must be changed ie if you don’t go out your previous times get deleted and you can start from the back. It is making a joke of the 3 part qualifying.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I believe the FIA have stated their could be a rule change in future to ensure all drivers set a representative time in each session or forfeit their position.

      I’d like to see pure qualifying tyres as pirrelli suggested last year and I’d even lean towards a point for pole to make Saturday a true spectacle.

  165. Mario says:

    Despite all the tech information the team had in front of them regarding LH fuel load the team still allowed him to continue in Q3. A fair decision from the stewards. Disappointment for Lewis.

  166. Last year, Lewis was focused on screwing up his own championship hopes . And this year, his team seems to be keen to do it for him!!!

  167. James Draper says:

    This just in…. McLaren moved their left rear tyre gunner to refueler….

  168. Phil D says:

    Nice way to get Alonso on the front row in Spain. Seems like F1 wants to self destruct and lose fans. Back to a more honest sport … like WWE american wrestling!

  169. ESLKid75 says:


    I read somewhere that this rule applies to all sessions including the race. Why is it then that nobody had a problem with Vettel and Rosberg pulling up by pit exit at the end of the race in Bahrain?

    Surely this disqualification should apply then as well?

    Did I read wrong that the in lap rule applies to the race as well?

    1. ESLKid75 says:

      From the FIA’s website:
      “6.6.2 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.”
      I guess it doesn’t apply to the race. That said, and I’m no lawyer, one could argue that qualifying is not a practice session… Who writes these things? This doesn’t seem very ironclad language…

      1. pablo says:

        very true, not does it say the driver should be relegated to the back of the grid.

  170. Methusalem says:

    So, Whitmarsh’s favorite, Button was unable to make to Q3, the leas he could put a smile on his face is by pulling Hamilton like this. I always thought, this sort things will happen with Hamilton if he starts dominating either the championship or the qualifings. I think, for whatever reason, there is an anti-Lewis conspiracy in the F1. Could that be something to do with Mr. Ecclstone? We remember how he changed the rules back in 2009 to allow Button win the championship. He even suggested a “medal-point-system” to suit him in the very same year. Later, in 2010 – 2011 the rules were changed so that Bernie’s favourite, Vettel could take the next titles. And, 2011 – 2012, Pirreli was brought back and is told to produce weak tyers to frustrate Hamilton. They even have taken away Hamilton’s father and Sutil, his best freind. I am convinced by now that Lewis Hamilton won’t be able to win any more championship.

  171. Johnty says:

    Pastor is starting on Pole. Will his record now say Pole:1 or is he still classified as 2nd but starting on pole?

    1. James Allen says:

      Records will say his pole

  172. anthony says:

    Why was lewis given a pirelli cap before being weighed which he was then weighed with.

  173. Leo says:

    Don’t know what to think!!
    Poor Lewis what a quali lap too!

    Fernando on the front row WOW !!! If he wins all of Spain will go crazy!!
    I am tipping a Raikkonen win !

  174. Dave Aston says:

    Disappointed to be robbed of the first all bald front row for years. Vettel has, maybe two years until he counts as bald, so previous Hamilton/Vettel front rows don’t count. Hamilton is now technically bald. Milestones in this area include – Jack Brabham, first bald driver to win a championship in a car bearing his own name. Fangio/Moss, last bald/Mercedes 1-2. Jacques Villeneuve, last bald GP winner who is the son of a GP winner. Most consecutive bald championships, Fangio with 4. Also, is this the first pole sitter with braces? Need to check, but it’s surely the first Venezuelan pole sitter with braces.

    1. James Clayton says:

      Wow. You’ve, eh, got a lot of time on your hands! :D

    2. AuraF1 says:

      Lewis shaves his head so technically he’s cheating to get into the bald winner stakes. Pastor is only balding not bald so we must prepare for his hair transplant which could come under scrutineering by the stewards. Vettel is unclear as his Adrian newsy designed ‘forward rake’ hair style could be hiding a flexi hairline but we’ll never know…

      It’s a fair bet jenson and kimi have good hair with their shampoo contracts though so we know they’ll never be a bald pole sitter legitimately…

  175. JohnnyCochran says:

    How do I get my hands on FIA technical regulations governing F1?

    Also is there a precedent regarding F1 fans legally making a challenge against the FIA/stewards about fairness in applying sanctions where said rules have been infringed.

  176. Nakano says:

    hello james, always enjoy reading ur articles and also big fan of yours since ITV days. i would like to ask a question, qualifying rules aside then the team have to provide 1 litre sample, does the similar rule of providing enough fuel after race applies to the team? if yes, then will team be penalized for not having enough fuel on board to return to pits after the race? because during the race we have moments when drivers are alerted that fuel is running out and asked to conserve.

    1. James Allen says:

      It applies at all times

      1. Nakano says:

        thank you james for your kind reply. if that is true, in vettel situation in Bahrain where by the end of the race right after crossing the race line, his car stopped, maybe it was a technical issue, however should team deliberately ask seb to stop the car to conserve fuel for sample, if fuel is not enough left by the end of the race to reach pitlane, and to provide required sample, will team be penalized in such cases?
        thank you very much for your time james.

  177. Michael says:

    This may be a a little inappropriate but it seems that the same stewards are involved when Lewis/MacClaren are hit hardest, is this me or my imagination?

    As for the penalty, it seems you can drive people off the track, cut them up when entering after an incident and get away with it a long as you are not Lewis Hamilton or MacLaren Driver.

    One other point, as we all know the race is not really completed until the driver, Vehicle are checked over and weighted, so how come Vettal, just parked his car up in Bahrain and nothing is said or done?

  178. Robert says:

    What a joke. Why not just ban him from the race altogether. After all it was so much worse than Schumacher at Rascasse.

    When it comes to Hamilton the boot seems to go in. Q3 should have been disallowed. But Back of the grid ???????

    And how many other cars have stopped out on the track re:fuel this and last season ?

    What’s up with the stewards this season ? Their lack of action in both GP2 races in Bahrain resulted in Rosberg doing the same stunt in exactly the same place. They either do nothing or grossly over react.

    1. James Clayton says:

      You can’t really blame the stewards this time (unfortunately!)

      It’s the rule that is harsh. This penalty is the only one that can be applied in this circumstance.

  179. s2law says:

    As a LH/MCL fan I am obviousy upset with the stewards incredibly harsh decision. However having said that MCL shouldn’t be making ‘school boy errors’ of this magnitude.

    This season he appears to have a much more focused and relaxed attitude than in previous years. But how long will this last? Having spent his life with MCL I am in no doubt that he wants this relationship to work. I just can’t help that feel that he’s beginning to lose faith.

    As for the race, I have no doubt that it will still be exciting as LH (IMO the best overtaker in F1) working his way through the field.

    Come on Lewis!

    p.s, I also think Alonso is EPIC!

    1. F12012 says:

      Yeah, come on Lewis!

      What Alonso can do with that Ferrari is unreal

  180. BBob says:

    So this explains why he was so much faster in qualifying. Less fuel=more speed. McLaren cheating AGAIN.

    1. James Clayton says:

      Did you see the margin Hamilton had over Maldo?

      Do you know the fuel effect of a laps worth of fuel?

      If the answer to both the above, then redo the maths and rethink that comment..?

      1. BBob says:

        Who won?

      2. James Clayton says:

        How is that relevant to Hamilton’s quali lap?

        Great win for Maldo and Williams, anyway. Am well pleased.

  181. Dave Deacon says:

    Just as you need top drivers you need top management. Maybe Mclaren needs to up its top game… I like MW he seems human and fallible but something is currently wrong with Mclaren F1 which needs to be put right quickly. They clearly have a top car and top drivers…

  182. chisel68 says:

    Ruined the race? McLaren are a loser team? Its all Sam Michaels fault? What a load of hogwash. These things happen in F1 and for anyone who says McLaren are a “loser team” as has been mentioned in the above posts you only have to look at how long they have been a contender for the championship and you’ll see that your comments are rubbish.

    The biggest mistake McLaren made (apart from not fuelling up Hamilton correctly) was trying to pass off a refuelling mistake as ‘force majeure” i.e an unavoidable act of God, war, riot etc. (I would love to have heard Sam’s argument and reasoning for that by the way. Seriously funny stuff). If that argument had worked for them, then Frank would have been kicking himself for not applying the same logic to Pastor being punted off by Lewis in Monaco last year!

  183. Matt says:

    As with the above comments, I also believe the penalty was too harsh. He should have got a penalty, but surly it should have dropped him down to 10th, seeing as he had got into Q3 on merit?

  184. Andy says:

    Since Hamilton was excluded from qualifying, does this mean that none of his performances throughout all the qualifying sessions count and therefore he could argue he should have all new tyres for the race? Because he didn’t use any to qualify as his qualifying wasn’t recognised?

    1. James Allen says:

      Exactly. Can he start on new primes? I think so

      1. James Clayton says:

        Trouble is the teams get given their tyres at the beginning of the weekend, don’t they?

        I think disqualification from an event means you are seen to have done something wrong; therefore I don’t see how you can be given back the tyres you used up until that point.

        I agree he should be able to start on any tyres he likes (from what he has left) though.

  185. Ryan M says:

    Look, its not harsh its not disproportinate the rules are the rules black and white… 23 other cars managed to stick within them.

    1. Chris M says:

      Have you read the F1 rules? they are written in black and white true but they are as clear as mud, vague and open to abuse from any one steward who has had a bad day the punishment in this case certainly does not fit the crime, article 18.2 states that any driver who commits three offences in a season has a ten place grid drop, my point being if that is for 3 offences 24 places for 1 offence is completly disproportionate they need to make the rules very clear so everyone gets the same punishment for the same offence, there is no consistancy in F1 and it is rapidly becoming a farce!!!!

  186. ChevyGuy566 says:

    Last year McLaren was a good team with a bad car and now they’re a bad team with a good car. Such a shame! Feel so bad for Louie :(

  187. Roger W says:

    Force majeure (French, pronounced: [fɔʁs maʒœʁ][1]) or vis major (Latin) “superior force”, also known as cas fortuit (French) or casus fortuitus (Latin) “chance occurrence, unavoidable accident”,[2] is a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, or an event described by the legal term act of God (such as hurricane, flooding, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc.), prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract. In practice, most force majeure clauses do not excuse a party’s nonperformance entirely, but only suspend it for the duration of the force majeure. [3][4]

    Force majeure is generally intended to include risks beyond the reasonable control of a party, incurred not as a product or result of the negligence or malfeasance of a party, which have a materially adverse effect on the ability of such party to perform its obligations[5], as where non-performance is caused by the usual and natural consequences of external forces (for example, predicted rain stops an outdoor event), or where the intervening circumstances are specifically contemplated.

    Just about covers the dilemma – a previous similar incident will not help the cause. The team are being sloppy, slightly devious and paying the price.

  188. Nando says:

    He has broken the technical regulations not the sporting regulations. As far as I can see the stewards don’t have any powers to impose lesser penalties in regards to breaches of the technical regs.

  189. Retired F1 Egineer says:

    Its funny to see that wherever Sam Michael goes, he brings poor decision-making with him…even funnier to see his old team on pole!!

    Pretty weak of him to try to shift the blame onto the poor race mechanic that filled the car light, when in actual fact it would have been Sam’s directive (along with Martin Whitmarsh and the Race Engineers) to to just that – and the Stewards would have known it. No mistake was made, because the fuel system automatically uploads the fuel data to the Race Engineers’ telemtry screen – so they all would have known exactly how much fuel was in the car before it left the pits.

    Had Sam owned up to their plan, rather than shifting the blame I suspect Charlie Whiting would have given them (at maximum a 10 place penalty), but by acting in a childish manner, Sam has cost the team points.

  190. ikkida says:

    Everybody who thinks that the punishment is too harsh, please consider these points: what do the people at the pit wall and people at the data analysis center stare at their monitors? (i am sure they dont read JAonF1 there).These people can simulate an entire race with their advanced software and sensors and define the strategies on the go, so couldnt they jus calculate whether they’ll have the necessary fuel at the end of the session? The software would have definitely shown a blip on fuel level, yet they ignored it (may be thinking they can get away with it). That is why they have been penalized in this manner, to set a precedent.
    I really feel sorry for Hamilton though, for ending up at the wrong side of the fence often for no mistake of his.

  191. matt says:

    What annoys me is a mechanic made the mistake according to Gary Anderson, which let’s be fair is understandable, we all make mistakes. HOWEVER! There is a very highly paid member of the team whose job it is to manage these situations – SAM MICHAEL – he would have known about the mistake and had several options to rectify the situation.

    Delay Hamilton and keep refueling and hope to have time to cross the line for another lap, which according to Anderson they probably could have, call him in and abort the lap and settle for sixth. Do the flying lap and tell Lewis to try to complete his in lap and risk not having enough fuel for a sample but at least attempt to comply with the regulations to their best ability and give the FIA stewards the option of accepting the mistake as an honest one and possibly using their discretion.

    Instead he and whitmarsh [mod] purposely tell Hamilton to stop the car – which without a technical failure is automatically deemed as illegal and then try to BS the stewards with the Force Majeur argument, which was never going to be accepted and was a blatant attempt to play the stewards.

    Mclarens technical and design team is strong, it has the best driver pairing in F1 and it has the worst Team Principal and Trackside Operations Manager of the top teams, Frank Williams must be so glad to be shot of Sam Michaels, Ron Dennis must be fuming to have him and Twitmarsh.

  192. Dave says:

    The stewards were quite generous. They could have excluded Lewis or McLaren from the race also.
    The real issue is subsequently trying to deceive the stewards rather than the fuel issue.

  193. Rob G says:

    Wow, another team error costing Hamilton valuable points. I was really unimpressed with Lewis last year and all of the issues he had. Really thought he’d lost his focus and was more interested in fame then racing but he has made a complete 180 and is driving brilliantly this year. Now the team is letting him down consistently and costing him any chance at a 2nd WDC, will be interesting to see what happens at contract time if this continues.

  194. SP says:

    I guess the steward had to make an example of him. Now all other teams will ensure they dont try the same ‘trick’ ;)

  195. LT says:

    As an ardent, die hard McLaren fan, even I can’t blame the stewards here. Yes the penalty is harsh, but the precedent for this rule was set by McLaren themselves. My anger is solely directed at McLarens management and team operations[mod].

    I’m just hoping the race pace of Lotus can prevent Alonso from winning tomorrow.

  196. Zack says:


    Embarrassed to be a McLaren fan.

  197. Darren says:

    Will anyone say the reason why …….

  198. Kay says:

    McLaren doing a copycat version of RBR 2010 – trying their best of the best to fail.


  199. double eyepatch says:

    Does it really take 2.5 litres of fuel to do the cooldown lap, or is that on race pace?

    1. James Allen says:

      Thats race pace. Just over half of that at slow pace

  200. Luke says:

    Looks like Lewis will have to beat his own team and the stewards to win the WDC this year…

  201. Stone the crows says:

    I can’t help but think that if Schumi had done this fans would want him ejected from the race completely. The severity of the penalty is to keep the teams from gaming the system. Buemi had a similar penalty last year, so Hamilton isn’t being singled out. Mclaren made a mistake in sending Lewis out with insufficient fuel and that low fuel probably contributed to his superior time. You could make an argument for a lighter penatly or a waived penalty or even a suspended penalty if Mclaren would have owned their mistake, but instead they chose to BS their way through it. Why should the FiA give them a break after Mclaren played dumb and lied to them? If the stewards had looked the other way we’d have had Ferrari and Red Bull pulling the same thing within weeks.

    1. Kevin says:

      You have written the perfect post on the matter

  202. Andy L says:

    James, can you lock Whitmarsh in the bathroom next time you see him? Pretty please. For all the McLaren fans.

  203. Jeff says:

    I’m not a Lewis Hamilton fan but I agree with most that the penalty does not fit the crime and this rule needs to be reviewed. It realy put a downer on a great qualifying session. I concur with those that say it should involve a time penalty or similar.

  204. monty says:

    Penalty is over the top. I don’t think I’ll watch tonights race, F1 is starting to feel abit contrived. I want to see pure racing, not the fastest guy starting from the back of the grid.

  205. JohnBt says:

    Shocking news! Thrown right behind is a bit much though. But we’re not FIA and all the reasons will fall on deaf ears.

    Should be another good race this weekend.

  206. Kev says:

    People blaming Sam Michaels? I am not sure if he can screw the tires and refuel the car by himself to ensure everything is running smooth.

    McLaren need some changes on the pitstop front? But it will not happen overnight. Ferrari were pretty bad in their pitstops for quite a few races last year before finally getting their act together.

  207. Phil R says:

    Bernie must have Lewis as favourite for the championship…

    As a McLaren fan I’m massively frustrated at all of this, but cannot believe the comments of other posters regarding Martin Whitmarsh and Sam Michael.

    Since Melbourne ’09 McLaren has been at least as competitive as it had been on average over the previous 10 years. Remember the disasters of 2004, the unreliability of ’05 and the general uncompetitiveness of 2006?

    Do people really think Sam Michael’s transfer is the reason that things have changed in 4 races?

    Mistakes need to be corrected and quickly, but we don’t need a “Spaghetti Culture” to end up happening at McLaren…

  208. Tom Weaver says:

    James, you’ve explained why Hamilton got disqualified here, but why is he dealt with harshly compared to the half-dozen cars that didn’t complete the cool down lap at the end of the Bahrain GP? Rosberg and Vettel were 2 of them from memory.

  209. Fred says:

    James as Hamilton had already posted a time would it not have been better to disqualify Lewis’s pole winning lap and fine the team a considerable amount of cash or WCC points rather than disqualification from the whole of Qualifying?
    I do agree with other posters here that those drivers who do not post a qualifying time at all in Q3 should be penalised as it makes a mockery of the show and what qualifying is about I personally think they should lose a set of tyres or be demoted 5 grid places as those that bother to go out are penalise a set of tyres in trying to get to the front.

  210. Sebi says:

    Rules are rules and sometimes are not what we all like for the show. Is it fair to gain a position advantage on the track by cutting a chicane and have to do an stop and go and lose maybe 6 or 7 positions, or 25sec after the race.
    McLaren knew they’ve made a mistake, why didn’t ask Lewis to go in to the pits instead of completing an stunning lap, getting him on pole, make all the show after…….did they think they could get away one more time after Canada, poor Lewis, I don’t know if it was his decision to finish the lap or was Team’s decision to do so, but you cannot fool the audience and TV watchers this way. Makes me angry they play with fans hopes and bettor’s money. Nothing for Mclaren, I feel bad for Lewis cause I know how bad he wants to win but he definitely suffers for his fans too.

  211. Iceman says:

    Just don’t understand all the whining about the penalty. Rules are exceptionally clear in this. Are you people seriously trying to say that FIA should not follow the rules?

    1. James Clayton says:

      I think we’re trying to say that the rules need revising.

    2. Jeevan balan Manoj says:

      Totally agree. Rules are rules

  212. Nick says:

    Seems a very harsh penalty. Why wouldn’t the stewards apply the rule to exclude him from Q3 only (where the infringement was detected), so he could still start 10th? Do the rules allow that discretion or mandate automatic exclusion from entire qualifying?

  213. mg says:

    Anyone who thinks that it’s a coincidence that this 24-spot penalty from the stewards at the Spanish GP also happens to put Alonso on the front row is fooling themselves.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, but a penalty of losing only his hot lap or even all of his Q3 times would have done the same thing.

    2. Dave Aston says:

      It’s the rules.

  214. Alain says:

    I would not want to be the engineer who made that mistake !

  215. Il leone says:

    I do feel this is one mistake too many from Macca this season. If I were Lewis, I would be seriously looking at a move to Mercedes.
    Also I don’t believe that staying with one team all your career is a viable option any more, especially if you want to be a multiple world champion.
    Lastly I reckon Sam Michael has to be part of the problem, not sure why he is rated so highly.

  216. JezW says:

    On race day I feel a penalty should also apply when drivers pulls over straight after crossing the finish line at the end of race due to fuel shortages…

  217. Eric says:

    Didn’t Vettel pull over at the end of the Bahrain GP before the end of the slowing down lap. Didn’t he park at the pit lane exit? Why wasn’t he excluded? Did he use all his fuel defending from Kimi and as a result couldn’t finish the race correctly? He therefore deserves the same penalty by the same logic.

    Stewards inconsistent again.

  218. Trespasser says:

    James, can you clarify one thing, if possible?

    I am looking at the regulations and I don’t understand something. It is said like this:

    “6.6.2 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.”

    The article specifies PRACTICE, not qualy or race. Is the qualy considered as PRACTICE? If so, why?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. OscarF1 says:

      Sporting Regulations, Art. 33 QUALIFYING PRACTICE

  219. Russ says:

    Does anyone remember Alonso stopping on the slow down lap in Germany last year because of low fuel? Alonso didnt get a penalty.

  220. AndyH says:

    If McLaren knew that the car was under fuelled, they would have known this (for a number of mintes!) before the last flying lap and Lewis could have aborted and come in – preserved his laptime and been legal – instead McLaren allowed Lewis to carry on to complete the lap with a car with an infringement that they already know the penalty for (for all the sensors on the car you’d think that McLaren would have a distance to empty gauge!!!!!) … Poor team decision making in my view …

  221. Chris_NZ says:

    Well there appears to be a backlash against this penalty. Do the stewards ever take into account what is in formula ones best interests and protecting the ‘integrity’ of f1 by being the best motorsport show in the world.
    Theres seems to be some inconsistency here, as rosberg and vettel both stopped at the end of the pit lane after Bahrain and escaped penalties.
    Will the media start a backlash against the stewards? I sure hope the fans do.

  222. Nigel says:

    What do you think is Hamilton’s best strategy now ?

    One plan would be to start from the back of the grid on what is probably his least worn set of options, try to muscle past the slower drivers, stop early to get some clear air, and then run as fast and long as he can on a set of primes (his pace on new primes will probably be faster than those running a longer first stint, so he could leapfrog several more drivers after the first round of pitstops).
    The downside is that a short first stint will harm his pace later in the race by making him run longer in the other stints.

    The other plan would be to start on primes, be patient, and only pass when he can without taking too much out of the tyres, and run as long as he possibly can on the first stint.
    At that point, gaps will have opened out in the field, and if his first stop is timed right, he could get long runs in clear air when the fuel load is down, and he can push harder.
    That would probably be the best tyre strategy.

    Any thoughts ?

  223. Garry J. Berry says:

    James, two simple questions :

    1. Is the required sample 0.5l or 1.0l?

    2. Within the FIA rules, is disqualification from qualifying mandatory and the only penalty possible if a car does not return with the required sample or did the stewards have a range of penalties available at their discretion?

    There seems to be some confusion amongst fans on these two issues.

    1. James Allen says:

      1 litre, updated that point

      Apparently so, but I think they weren’t impressed with the argument of Force Majeur put forward by McLaren

      1. Garry J. Berry says:

        Thanks James

  224. Richard D says:

    Obviously the team knew that they had made a mistake with the fuel and tried to cover it up by pretending they had a technical problem. They should have had a code word for Hamilton to engineer a gentle spin off into a gravel trap so that he could have been lifted back to parc ferme and therefore have enough fuel in the car to be tested and not have broken any rules!

  225. pablo says:

    lost for words, disgusting decision!

  226. malcolm says:

    This has certainly wound up a lot of response, and it is clearly very unfortunate that Lewis again has to ‘take it on the chin’, but then again, the team wins together and they lose together. In Motor Sport Generally a Fuel Infringement is treated very seriously, there is no doubt teams have used many devious methods to gain any advantage.

    What I can’t understand is why the fuel man on Lewis’ car was under pressure to add fuel at the last moment? Lewis had a good long spell in the pits after his first run, there was always the chance he would go again, so why not put the fuel in as soon as poss?

    Just as Ferrari have to have a good look at their whole operation, so McLaren have to have a long hard look at their Pit Procedures, as well as their wheel nuts!

  227. Thabang says:

    I’ve had it with Mclaren and their f-ups this season (and we are only on the 5th race weekend). Really something has to give….these Whitmarsh conspiracies are starting to sound like the truth.

    That said, couldn’t the team take a knock via the constructors points and leave the driver to win however many he would have won from pole?

  228. David B says:

    I don’t often post, but I have to agree with the majority here and say the penalty was too harsh. Clearly rules were broken, and reasons are just excuses dressed up. However the penalty does not fit the offence. I feel exclusion of the fastest time or even from Q3, ie start 11th but 24 places is too much.

    I just hope that none of the main protaganists are able to take advantage of a win. I wouldn’t like to see a World Championship skewed by this Steward led result. Maldanado for a Williams win!!

  229. Karen says:

    It seems they are saying on other sites that 4 Mclaren staff have either left or been sacked since a big argument last night. This guy seems to be part of it-dont know how valid this all is


    1. Karen says:

      mmm forget above, it seems others are now saying this is a few no-marks pretending to be someone they are not, although it spurred enough interest for Kravitz to ask Whitmarsh about it on SkyF1

  230. StefMeister says:

    Martin Brundle said that he spoke to Charlie Whiting earlier & was told that in qualifying a technical infringement = disqualification.

    Its apparently clearly written in the regulations & this is why Lewis got the penalty he did, Stewards had no discretion to give any other penalty.

  231. Jeevan balan Manoj says:

    Totally deserved it. Otherwise how will McLaren stop making such horribly stupid mistakes

  232. tellis says:

    Article 6.6.2 says cars only need to have returned under their own power in practice sessions so it does not apply to qualifying or race.

    If it is being interpreted to apply during qualification then ANYONE who doesn’t return under their own power should be sent to the back of the grid – even if you spin off.

    The way it is currently being interpreted means you could under fuel your car to get a weight advantage on your flying lap then put it in the gravel straight afterwards so you cannot make it back to the pits under your own power but have the required fuel for testing if needed.

    For those who say rules are rules, there is still a lot of interpretation going on as far as I can see.

    Perhaps it was a mistake of McLaren to draw attention to the situation by stopping – the stewards had to respond. Lesson: if you find yourself in the wrong, feign ignorance to the very end.

    Rules and punishment that promote honesty and fair play would be my preference. This can only be achieved with clear and consistent decisions.

  233. Raymond YZJ says:

    James, why do you think they’re making so many mistakes this year, and to a slightly lesser extent last year? It seems that whoever has a dominant car is doomed to making human error.

    I think this is an almost-carbon-copy of what we saw in 2010 with Red Bull consistently squandering points.

    As you said in another piece – McLaren clearly have the fastest car (it might not be the quickest at a given day at a given circuit, but over the average, it’s still quickest – it’s always been on the front row, even if not on pole) but aren’t leading the championship. Much like Red Bull in 2010. Would love to get your opinions on this.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s called pressure and it’s always been there at the top of F1.

  234. Bazza says:

    What on earth is going on at Maclaren? All teams are under pressure but there are some serious errors being made in this team. This brings the senior management into the spotlight and not before time, I can’t see sponsors willing to continue to support a team that continually makes avoidable errors. The Mclaren mark deserves better than this an so do their supporters.

  235. Dan Parr says:

    I think the penalty system needs some serious consideration.

    If a driver runs into another car when it was avoidable the yes, punish the driver. If a driver completes an incredible quali lap some 0.5 secs quicker than the 2nd place driver only to find out his ‘team’ had not put enough fuel then punish the team and not the driver.
    I, as a Lewis fan and a McLaren am getting a bit tired of these costly mistakes.!

  236. pallys says:


    We can see there’s been a bit of a backlash of this penalty being excessive and the rules needing changing as the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Rulings are supposed to be fair.

    When will a journalist/media start challenging the F1 Authorities and ask difficult questions about Stewarding standards and why Hamilton seems to attract the harsher penalties? Is he being discriminated against in any form?

    When will a journalist now campaign and press he FIA to amend the rule going forward for the benefit of F1? Would the FIA look upon a said journalist unfavourably, because it’s akin to the FIA admitting guilt?

    Why does it feel like from where some public stand that Hamilton is treated like a circus monkey and is in F1 purely for entertainment pruposes (but should not be winning) as the authorities pick up his car and place it at the back like some matchbox toy for the pleasure of others?

    Why is it new clarifications and rule changes occur from Hamilton incidents e.g. such as not completing a slow down lap in Canada 2010, but the same FIA reaction is not forthcoming say when Vettel parked his car on the pit straight in Bahrain?

    Why is it that the Spanish steward Radovan Novak is still a steward when he (wrongly) publicly blamed McLaren for sexgate – but was still allowed to judge the Hamilton incident? Shouldn’t a good journo be querying via the media whether he’s suitable to be a judge considering his clear dislike and biasism against McLaren?

    I understand these are all difficult questions, but smart journo’s do ask these in other sectors for the benfit of the public e.g. against government on policies etc, but why don’t the journalists have enough cojones to question the FIA/Stewards on behalf of public concerns/voice also?

    Is it true that the FIA/FOM manage the journo paddock passes with an iron fist hence difficult questions never get asked regarding Hamilton for fear of losing their licence?

    When will a journalist support Hamilton’s cause w.r.t steward decisions and perceived bias?

    Radovan Novak would be a good place to start.

    1. James Allen says:

      Novak is Czech…

      F1 journos do ask the questions, don’t worry

      1. pallys says:

        James, thanks for taking the time to respond.

        Yes I knew Novak was a Czech, I probably wasn’t clear enough in meaning he was a Steward at the Spanish GP rather than of Spanish nationality.

        It’s good to hear that Journo’s do ask these difficult questions. I guess then it would be beneficial to the public/fans that these mini-interviews are published in the media for better visibility and also holds the said individuals to more accountability of their actions if they too know it will be published.

        As an example I haven’t seen any publication query Novak’s role to Hamilton’s penalty and his outspoken criticism of McLaren.

        The link is only being discusssed by fans in discussion forums.

  237. MAS says:

    Now that I think about it some more, perhaps the stewards considered that exclusion from Q3 would not have been that great a penalty at all. He’d get to start from 10th on fresh, hard tyres instead of pole with knackered options.

    In other words: his penalty for his team’s (accidental) cheat would have put him on the same strategy that Vettel and Schumacher deliberately maneuvered themselves into.


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