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Championship battle turned on its head as Vettel disqualified from qualifying
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Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Nov 2012   |  7:52 pm GMT  |  369 comments

Sebastian Vettel the world championship leader, has been excluded from the results of the Abu Dhabi qualifying session for having insufficient fuel in his car at the end of qualifying for the FIA to perform the usual checks.

He will start tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pit lane, on a track where overtaking is not straight forward. Red Bull took this option so that they could set up the car specifically for overtaking, optimising the DRS opportunities and changing the gearbox and gear ratios to improve straight line speed.

THe fuel irregularity is a similar offence to the one Lewis Hamilton and McLaren committed in Spain this year where he was given the same penalty. Red Bull boss Christian Horner said that the margin on fuel in the tank was “too tight” on this occasion and accepted the penalty. He explained that it is Renault that decides how much fuel to put into the car.

Vettel stopped on the circuit at the end of qualifying, under instruction from his Red Bull team. A delegation from the team, led by team manager Jonathan Wheatley together will representatives of engine partner Renault went to see the stewards after the session and the decision took four hours to arrive at.

The stewards accepted the team’s explanation of why the car stopped on circuit, which related to a drop in fuel pressure which Renault believed could damage the engine. However when the fuel was pumped out for FIA checks, only 850ml came out, rather than the 1000ml which rules require.

Title rival Fernando Alonso, who trails Vettel by 13 points, starts 6th on the grid now. Both men will be aiming to progress up the field, but for Alonso to make major inroads into Vettel’s points lead he needs a strong podium finish, with Lewis Hamilton looking likely to win the race and take the maximum 25 points, Alonso will be targeting the 18 points for second place or 15 points for third.

Although overtaking is hard at Yas Marina, there are two DRS zones and Vettel is likely to finish in the top ten, given how fast his car is, so he will be aiming to be at least 7th or 8th from where he starts.

However, the field spread is quite large at Yas Marina, meaning that he will already be many seconds behind the leading half dozen cars by the end of the first 10 laps.

It looks like one stop will be possible tomorrow for many runners, so Vettel and Red Bull have to see if they can put him on a super aggressive strategy to get him through the field. But the Red Bull does not have great straight line speed, it’s not set up for that. It’s set up for leading from the front.

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369 comments

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1

I have a different opinion with regards to the title of this article:

Championship battle was turned on it's head when Grosjean took Hamilton and Alonso out and it is back on track with Vettel's penalty, which is exactly the same as with Hamilton in Barcelona.

2

And if you will, the championship was turned on it's head on when Renault supplied faulty alternators to RBR.

Oh, and Kartikeyan also help a little in Malaysia.

3

Interesting point about Grosjean. And completely true if Alonso manages a result and Vettel does not.

4

???

1. Regs are regs. RB needed to turn in 1 litre and only had 850ml left. Bernie doesn't have the authority to make up regs on the the spot and neither does the FIA. Besides, this is not a new reg.

2. Vettel is one of Bernie's favorites.

5

RBR tried it on, plain and simple. Horner new exactly why the car had been stopped and lied when he said he didn't in my opinion.

Glad to see consistency from the stewards. I was convinced that Vettel would get away with it as the FIA usually do not like affecting the championship leaders - it's usually one set of rules for the leaders and one set for the midfeild. Good work FIA.

6

This kind of drama almost seems to smack of manipulation by the higher powers of Bernie. But personally I think it couldn't have come at a better time.

7

Naaahhh. Your conspiracy theory is off a bit I think. What happened here is Vettel got sick of winning and not getting DOTD, so he wants to get DOTD once and today is that day.

8

Agree. I think someone knows more about this case.

Looks like all that kind of cases with RedBull: alternator problem, fuel is just made for the one purpose, just guess what for ?

James: I just wonder what's a procedure of refueling the car ? I mean how a team decide how many to put in, I presume an engine supplier suggests how many per a lap and the team puts an appropriate fuel quantity, right?

And what's the interaction between a team and an engine supplier as for how many fuel remains in a car? Shall someone monitor this parameter and make some screaming when the car has about 1.5 litre and not less ???

I just don't understand the problem why this always happens - it looks very simple, from my point of view, for a team who calls itself F1 team with 500+ people or ?

9

These things happen when you are fighting for tenths of a second.

10

I doubt Bernie was filling the Red Bull gas tank...

But certainly agree that it could not have come at a different time - really looking forward to the race

11

The comment I posted above belongs here.

12

How is that so if the car is under fueled for speed advantage over other drivers !!

13

Given that there was a similar incident this year, why did it take 4h & 45 min to reach a decission?

14

The reason for the wait probably had to do with the fact that Vettel's car was at the back in par ferme since it was the last car to come in. The car had to go through post-qualifying inspection by the FIA before the race stewarts could give their ruling.

15

If I'm not mistaken, I think that Hamilton's ruling in Spain took about the same time. I also think that the FIA inspectors do all of the post-qualifying inspections before they take any issues to the race stewarts.

16

wounldnt that have been he case with hamilton as well?

17

I could be mistaken, but I think Hamilton's ruling in Spain took about the same amount of time. From what I have read, I think that the FIA inspector do all of the post-qualifying inspection before they take any issues they might have discovered to the race stewarts.

18

Why not when circumstances are exceptional, as here, that they scrutinise the RB first, and then go back to the order of arrival.

Good job the dinner menus are fixed in advance

20

The interesting part of all this may be why Red Bull have taken an optional additional penalty by starting Vettal from the pit lane.

If he started 24th on the grid, it is likely he would make up a number of places by turn 1. Starting from the pit lane will probably mean it will take half a lap to catch the back of the pack. Why?

Some conspiracy theories for those who like that sort of thing http://wp.me/p2HWOP-kV

21

This is because, RBR top guys knows well their boy..He is a great driver, for me 1 cm below FA and maybe more braincontrolled than Mr Bullet Hamilton..then as I say..they know what whom they are dealing..if SV start from the grid..then in LESS than 5 laps he crash or is crahed by someone..he is like the other German..hotpressureheaded..errors prone under certain goals..

22

They start from the pit lane to be allowed to change setup. I suspect they will go for less wing to increase acceleration and top speed. Hope they aren't hampered by a too short seventh gear.

23

You know you won't be involved in some first corner carnage tho. As Muzza would say (quoting JYS I think), to finish first, first you have to finish.

24

Simple: they had the night to work on settings again, to make the car overtake-friendly instead of runaway-prepared. And they avoid the first corner problem, if there is one.

25

To me, it's very simple. Red Bull's DOUBLE DRS is potentially vulnerable in the race because of its lack of straight-line speed. Maybe Vettel could pass the HRTs, Lotus, and Marussia after a few laps, but with Vettel being the 2nd lowest in the DRS zones, he would have a very difficult times passing the Saubers, Force Indias, and Mercedes inorder to score some points.

By electing to start from the pitlane, they can change tires strategy, gear ratios, engines, and wing settings inorder to make it easier for Vettel to pass cars in e DRS zones.

The only two issues to me are (1) car balance and (2) tire wear. They have not tried these settings all weekend, but with the team back in Milton-Keyes and their super computers, I'm sure they will have a good idea of what to expect.

26

Red bull might change the car for straight line speed and start from the pitlane. Looks like its going to brazil now. Perfect opportunity for seb to shut the doubters up tomorrow tho. Alonso can aim for 2nd. If Hamilton doesn't break down he will walk the race as the tyres are too hard for this track.

27

The other advantage Vettel will have from starting from the pitlane is that he will be well clear of any first lap mayhem.

With the pace he has he'll soon catch them up and the field will have spread slightly making it a bit easier.

Even starting at the back, he can't afford a non finish through contact.

28

I'd like to think Alonso can end up second, but that would be a mighty effort - a lot of mighty cars in front of him. And don't forget about Wild West Maldonado...

29

Wow, really opens this up. Will be a good race tomorrow, and could also keep the rest of the season very lively.

30

Amazing how it took the FIA 4 hours to decide whether the car had insuficient fuel on board.

Hope for a good race tomorrow with Fernando in the top 3 and Vettel outside the points.

Start will be crucial as always.

31
Bring Back Murray

Probably waiting for Bernie to get back from the bank

32

If Ferrari play their cards right they'll drop Massa down in the race for some blocking duty to make sure Vettel stays out of the points!

33

It took 4 hours because the stewards deliberated and accepted the reasons for stopping given by Renault and Red Bull, which was problems with the fuel cell. They then declared it"force majeure" which allowed the result to stand. Only on scrutineering afterwards, when they were unable to remove the full litre, was Seb penalised. I find the decision ridiculous as they knew there was enough fuel in the car, but just not obtainable due to the fuel cell issue. Completely different to the Hamilton situation where they deliberately underfueled. This was down to a technical issue which they originally accepted.

34

Game on! Looks like we might get our decider in Brazil after all!

35

Exactly......and bigger TV audiences in Austin as well.

No wonder Christian Horner has been spending a lot of time with Bernie lately.

Conspiracy Theory #27(iv)

36

Yabadabado!!!!!!!!!!!!

37

Amazing how a team can engineer a car to operate on the very edge of what's a physically possible then go and drop the ball on something as basic as fuel levels.

Oh well, I guess that makes tomorrow interesting.

38

This is the sort of stuff that makes me think that Red Bull as a team are lucky to have a Newey with them. With all of these errors (ok mostly on Mark's side), imagine how they would go without being the fastest car.

39

There is some stellar justice! Just hope F.A. can make one more Sunday driving miracle and finish on podium and take over the lead in championship!

40

How is this justice? How has Vettel deserved this?

It is this sort of attitude that is so disappointing. Cheer on people for being successful, not for faulting outside of their control

41

First of all by justice I meant that Vettel has been now hit by misfortune just like Fernando was in couple of the occasions and it was by all means not his fault. The only difference is that F.A. was hit by Lotus car on two Sundays and score no points while Vettel still has chance cause he is racing. Vettels DNFs were always related by a technical problem while in the whole season Ferrari didn't have any DNFs which were their fault. And one more thing I ain't pissed of at his success but like many others I know that if there was no Mr. Newey there wouldn't be any Vettel, the champ, period. And I hate seeing anybody (read: Ferrari, Mclaren...) dominating in such fashion cause it makes it boring. Only future will show how good of the driver Vettel is once he switches to another team and doesn't have fastest car!

42

knowing how many Alonso and Ferrari haters there are on this website, I'm sure they (including yourself) cheered when Alonso was taken-out by Grosjean and Kimi to no fault of his own.

To Red Bull:

(1) Make better alternators

(2) Make better KERS

(3) Know how much fuel to put in before you start Q3

All these are faults of their own.

43

You don't know me or who I cheer for/against.

No I was not cheering when Alonso was hit at Spa. 1 was concerned with his safety, then 2) disappointed that he was out of the race.

And by their, I meant the driver not the team. Yes the team let Vettel down. But that isn't excuse for the piss poor attitude against Vettel from some on this website. It's not Vettels fault and it isn't justice. Just bitterness by sore losers who are jealous at his success.

46

schadenfreude

47
michael grievson

+1

48

Example of things under the teams control:

- How much fuel is onboard to begin Q3.

- The design, maintenance and construction of their fuel cell.

- The amount of fuel the engine consumes.

Example of things not under the teams control:

- Flat tire due to debris.

- Getting hit by another car.

- Instructions by safety workers.

50

Whaaaat?? I can not believe a top team makes a mistake like this! Might be a championship decider. Is it really that close at the top to gamble like what might be 1 or 2 lbs of fuel?

51

It's not a mistake. The fuel was in the car but due to the mechanical issue it is in a different part of the fuel cell. The rule states you can't remove body work to get the fuel out. So basically out of say the 1.5 litres of fuel in the cell. They could only get 0.85l out so not enough for a sample

52

There's a very, very simple engineering solution to avoid this ever happening. If you choose not to do it then you have no excuses when you are caught out.

53
Bring Back Murray

Maybe Red Bull are trying to make McClaren feel better!

54

Martin Brundle often remarks that each extra 1 kg of fuel is worth about a 1/10th. So I guess that, for quali 3, yeah they do finesse it down to the kilogram.

55

Gutted. Other peoples' stupid mistakes will decide what was a battle between two giants.

56

And the renault alternator didnt' decide the championship..

Both FA and SV have had 2 non finishes due to nothing of the driver's fault. Further more you could argue the valencia one gifted more to alonso than alonso's 2DNFs gifted vettel...

Please open your eyes amd stop watching with through those ferrari tint sunglasses.

57

Agree with you, grosjean decided who will win.

58

F1 is a team sport.

59

You mean like mistake Grosjean made when he took out Alonso? 🙂

60

It was a straightforward decision with Hamilton. But it took 4 hours with Vettel involved.

61

It was 5 hours for Hamilton

62

Sorry my bad. didnt know that

63

Alonso has a great opportunity to take this championship to Brazil. It has definitely put the excitement back into the 2012 season!

64
Bring Back Murray

Come om, its got to be decided on the BBC where everyone can see it!

66

Wow? Man, I am gutted. I hope Seb can get some decent points. But heard he is starting from the pits which will make it even harder for him to catch the pack.

67

Hope he takes a new engine and gearbox. Safety car!!

68

With the speed disadvantage in the straights, it IS going to be hard for Vettel to get into the points. You have two Mclarens, two Ferraris, two Lotuseseseses (Loti?), one Red Bull, one Williams and two reasonable Force India cars. Throw in the Mercedes cars and he most certainly will have issues. The Saubers will give him trouble as well. How ironic would it be if Petrov holds Vettel up?

69
Bring Back Murray

That's why they are starting him from the pits isn't it - so they can alter the setup to suit overtaking

70

Not trying to be nasty or anything, BUT.....one can only hope!

71

This is setup nicely.

Mclaren 1-2 entirely possible.

Webber, Alonso and Kimi fighting for podium.

I share many reservations on Vettel's 'greatness' as his success is largely driven from pole.

But what a great opportunity for him to show us his talent and go from last to 4th. Respect if he can!

Could be a classic....

72

China 2007: 17th to 4th

Monaco 2008: 19th to 5th

Canada 2008: 19th to 8th

He's been able to perform from the back before.

73

well Lewis finished 8th after his penalty in Barcelona, someone needs to pull a nelson for a strategic safety car to help Vettle, they have two Torro Rosso on track. Offer them a Newy wing for next season.

74

That was a very good 8th considering the track (little overtaking possible) and no Safety Car. There were only three midfield cars that retired then too.

75

Well it worked out for Vettle as he only had to overtake a few cars and by the grace or the safety car it worked out well for him. Only adds another string to his bow for a strong finish.

76

Button won't get second.

77

With the speed disadvantage in the straights, it IS going to be hard for Vettel to get into the points. You have two Mclarens, two Ferraris, two Lotuseseseses (Loti?), one Red Bull, one Williams and two reasonable Force India cars. Throw in the Mercedes cars and he most certainly will have issues. The Saubers will give him trouble as well. How ironic would it be if Petrov holds Vettel up?.

78

Yessssssss

79

Well, good news for F1 fans. Looks like this championship is going down to the wire.

80

An absolute schoolboy error. Red Bull got what they deserved here. In fact, they should have been given an additional penalty at Austin for wasting the Stewards time, and that of the media, by trying to disguise it as something else.

81

Maybe you should read http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2012/05/hamilton-hammered-by-stewards-for-fuel-issue-in-qualifying/ . I don't remember McLaren getting hammered with another penalty for wasting the stewards time

82

The stewards accepted their reason for stopping the car on the track by studying the telemetry. I doubt they knew they'd fail the fuel sample test. The Renault engineers probably saw a low-fuel-pressure condition so they asked Red Bull to stop the car, lest the engine run dangerously lean and get damaged. The low pressure condition was probably due to the fuel not being in the correct area inside the fuel cell which caused both (the penalty and the car being stopped on the track)

84

James, I don't meant to be sarcastic but the championship is not a bulls game anymore. Great that the stewarts are consistent and now Vettel will have to fight all the way up the field instead of trotting to the finish line giving Alonso a breather. Now how I wish Hamilton was still in the running for the WDC which would have made this season a classic for many years to come.

P.S I hope my comment will be posted as lately none of mine have been approved I guess!!!.

85

Yeah championship battle turned on it's head!

Also James, wonder if you could plss answer this for me… I’ve noticed Sebestian’s been dominating the whole weekend, quicker than his teammate but in Korea, India and again here in Abu Dhabi, he’s simply dropped his pace in Q3, yeah he got pole in India but probably because Webber was unlucky with that mistake.

Is there any explanation to this. It’s surprising he’s simply not finding that form/speed in Q3, he’s not far away but not that dominant Seb we know.

86

@ Sid

Is there any explanation to this. It’s

surprising he’s simply not finding that

form/speed in Q3

-------------------------------------------------

I think the reason why Sebi isn't finding that extra form in Q3 is simply down to pressure.

You can't expect him to be perfect, also I think the diffusers from the previous seasons were making his car that much stable so he was able to get that Q3 boost whilst Webber struggled with the whole concept of blowing off throttle gases.

87

The penalty is too bad, but those are the rules. Just makes this championship battle all the more exciting. If Vettel can emulate Webber's recovery at Suzuka, seventh or eighth should be the minimum he will achieve.

88

But a Suzuka the Red Bull was the fastest car on the track by six tenths, Vettel doesn't have that here and suzuka has 2 places for overtaking, Yas Marina has none. I expect we will also see a lot of one stoppers which will only make things worse.

89

James, can you please clarify the following for me?

All cars are have to provide 1L fuel after qualy and race or only those who are randomly asked by the stewards have to?

If all cars have to do it every time..than it looks like RedBull have made a mistake with the fueling.

But if only those randomly selected have to, this means that if Vettel's car didn't had a problem, he could've gone back to the pits and the penalty might've never happen if he was not selected to provide the sample.

Does it make sense what I'm saying?

90

All cars have to give a sample but it was not a fuelling error by red bull

The fuel was in the car but due to the mechanical issue it is in a different part of the fuel cell. The rule states you can’t remove body work to get the fuel out. So basically out of say the 1.5 litres of fuel in the cell. They could only get 0.85l out so not enough for a sample

91

Randomly selected;

34.2 At the end of the qualifying practice at least six cars will be chosen at random to undergo further checks

92

I am not James, but the way Sky and BBC commentators have explained it, ALL cars have to provide a litre sample for analysis, there is no random sampling per se. Even if there was random sampling (and there isn't), the fact that Vettel's car stopped on the track would have given the stewards reason to suspect anyway, so chances are it might have been chosen for analysis anyway.

93

YES, Gracias! I can still see Seb taking points though, somehow.

94

Interesting race tomorrow!

95

With red bulls top speed issue, could redbull start Seb from the pittance and alter wing and gear ratios overnight???

96

Since Red Bull have elected to start from the pitlane, they can change tires, gear ratios, engines, and wing settings.

I personally don't think that it should be allowed. It's unfair to the other teams. You should race what you attempted to qualify with.

97

But the setback of starting from the pit lane outweighs optimum set up

98

The setback of starting from the pitlane as opposed to 24th? No, not really. As many peopl have pointed out it actually has some additional benefits.

The set back of starting from the pitlane as opposed to higher up the field, clearly yes.

99

Really James.... you think that having a 10 or twenty second start gap is worse than (or equal to) being able to pass people down the straight with an optimised for DRS setup at this circuit?

I hate all the conspiracy theories here but IF I was Red Bull and realised our Qualy gap was marginal and the setup was going to cause major issues (high downforce / low top speed) I would LEAP at this opportunity, chances are that without the performance gap they thought they had he could go screaming backwards due to DRS and low top speed!

I would choose overtaking capability and starting from the back everytime versus a comprimised defending/passing setup due to the DRS zone.

Maybe quite wrong (hell, it is a conspiracy THEORY after all! 🙂 )

But a storming drive from Seb to 2 / 3rd is what I believe we will see, mishaps aside...

Incidentally, I think it is wrong they are allowed to do this....

100

Wing yes - gear ratios no

101

FIA Report (http://www.fia.com)

The Stewards have received a report from the FIA F1 Technical Delegate that the gearbox, gear ratios

and suspension setup have been changed on car 1.

The Stewards decide that car 1 is required to start the Race from the Pit Lane in accordance with Article

34.5 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.

102

The gearbox did behave oddly as he stopped on track. It went straight from 3rd to neutral.

The ratios are to help with straight line speed.

103

But what happens if they do? The driver is just moved five place down the grid.. oh wait, how harsh 🙂

104

Gear ratios's locked in Fri night so believe

105

James,

could you please explain why Vettel, as well as Hamilton in Barcelona, were stripped of all their qualifying results rather than just the Q3 times?

As far as I'm aware, there was nothing wrong with the cars and / or the amount of fuel during Q1 or Q2 and, therefore, starting at the back of the top 10 seemed to be the logical penalty to me!

106

The rules make no distinction between the three qualy sections, it's taken as a whole so he gets sent to the bakcinstead of 10th.

107

Because there is one qualifying practice and not three.

108

Because they can't be sure whether he did it in all 3 sessions

109

He was able to make it back in previous sessions, so it's reasonable to say he certainly did have enough fuel in the car during those previous sessions.

It still doesn't make sense.

110

Aslong as its the same rule for all teams and it is then it's fair simple

111

Did what though? I wasn't aware that the teams had to provide a sample at the end of every session. My understanding is that if he ran out of fuel and couldnt get back to the pits in either Q1 or Q2, its over anyway...

112

To be fair, they can't be sure ANY of the cars didn't do it in all 3 sessions. There's no rule stating they have to have enough for a fuel sample at the end of Q1 and 2 is there?

Them's the rules because them's the rules. I think most people agreed that the penalty was harsh when it happened to Hamilton in Valencia. I do think the rule needs revisiting. Would be interesting to know WHY Red Bull had this issue. McLaren were very forthcoming to the (rather farcical) reason they didn't have enough fuel. There's been no statement from Red Bull thus far.

113

Well... they cant be sure the others did it either, no sample is given in Q1 and Q2 for any team, so its the same for everybody

they should not erase the Q1 and Q2 times

114

wish vettel had 24 fingers!

117

lol.

He has ten and that should be just about right.

118

I wonder how often do eams get away with this on any given weekend... if Vettel had enough fuel in his car to get into Parc Ferme would anybody have noticed?

119

Slowest car in the speed trap, hard racetrack to overtake on, only one pit stop expected (less room for "alternative strategies")... it will be very difficult for Vettel. He did it in Spa (sort of), but there was more overtaking opportunities. I can't believe Red Bull did so stupid mistake in the final stage of the championship.

I hope Vettel gets deep into the points, but even if he does, guess who will be voted driver of the day. The starting from P1 and leading the entire race. Just teasing... 🙂

Great thing for championship, hope Vettel wins it.

120

Wow, guess its only fair considering Hamilton's penalty in Spain, I wonder if they were aware of the issue like Mclaren were but still sent him out, or if it was a failure of some kind only picked up after he completed his lap, hence the four hours it took to get the decision.

Either way surely it's going to take a safety car or two for Vettel to get points tomorrow, especially if its turns into a one stopper for most cars, all that dirty air and going of line passing eople is going to take its toll on the tyres. And if Alonso can get one of his blinding starts and gets up p4 by the end of the first lap then try and nip a podium spot of whoever is in front, there could be only 1 point in the championship going into the last two rounds !!!

This championship just went from almost inevitable to possibly epic!!

121

! Nice that someone is trying to keep things interesting !

122

Wow?!!

Championship decider?

123

James, you comment that Vettel should get through the field as he has a fast car. The Red Bull isn't set up for straight line speed. They are set for speed OFF the corner but hit the limiter at the end. This makes them safe to not being overtaken but at risk of being stuck behind. I actually think he could be in real trouble as soon as he catches a Williams/Force India with a decent top end speed

124

I spell that point out too

125

RB choose to start from Pit lane.

If they want to change the gear ratio for more speed or change the whole gear box, are they allowed to do that, anyway there are no more grid penalty?

126

Wow. *That sucks!

127

Me thinks not. 🙂

128

Does he have to start on the tyres he qualified with?

130

Surely not, as he technically did not qualify. That's one small advantage I suppose.

131

Well, Well, Well...

What do you know!

Just when the championship was looking pretty straight forward the writers were called in and asked to change the boring finale and give it a Harry-Potter-kinda-cliff-hanger ending.

The way I see it, this is perfect news for Vettel (maybe not)

You see, if Vettel can do what our JA on F1 says and that's by making his way into the points, that drive alone would vindicate his title if he were to clinch it.

On the other hand, if Sebi gets lost in those murky waters of back markers then that drive would really harm his reputation by giving merit to what people like Lewis & Alonso have been saying about Newey which fact would have a knock on effect of pouring cold water on his past achievements.

Anyway, it seems the neutral F1 fans win either way.

Bring on the race already.

Right, I now have to change my prediction:

1. Webber

2. Kimi

3. Alonso

4. Button

5. Maldonado

6. Massa

7. Vettel (thanks to safety car shenanigans)

P.s.

WHAT THE HECK WAS THE RED BULL FUEL GUY THINKING >>> OMG, BEYOND BELIEF!!!!!!!!!

132

What position do you think Lewis will finish the race in.

133

goferet pegged LH as getting a DNF, which of course happened. In all, the Webber win aside, his list was quite prescient.

134

"The way I see it, this is perfect news for Vettel"

I'd be very surprised if he sees it that way...

135

More like 'a perfect opportunity' than 'perfect news'.

136

Ham should be untouchable tomorrow, but I have a strange hunch that he won't win.

Alonso has the fastest and strongest package. Kimi, Maldo and Webbo are easy prey to the Ferrari pace, he should pick them off easy peasy. Unless Kimi can do something with the improving Lotus.....

Has to be said that Alonso has again qualified under par. Pat Fry is vindicated !

137

It is Alonso who is outperforming that Ferrari. Fry has to do some explaining to his bosses at the end of the season.

138

How and why do you say Alonso qualified under par? He did almost identical lap times the last 3 times he went out in Q2 and Q3. All the main protagonists went quicker with every lap but him. How does that work?

139

Quote from JA

"Raikkonen also improved to move ahead of Alonso, who had a poor final run and was unable to improve, he slipped to 7th place"

You might like to ask Pat Fry also what he reckons about this......privately of course.

140

also sorry if I'm using 'under par' wrongly. I mean badly. I guess maybe you golfers say over par?

141

Funny, after Hamilton got pole I started thinking about Singapore...hope the car doesn't let him down tonight.

142

You jinxed him!

143

This is massive for the championship but also for Vettel to show us what he can do starting way out of position for a change.

144

yes baby thats what im talking about. Should make the championship interesting

145

James, a question to you. Vettel is on his 8th engine now...can RB change his engine and do not have a penalty now?

146

Even if he gets a penalty he can't move back 10 places further. I'd do the change to get another fresh engine into the mix for last three races

147

They should change everything they can change on the car - engine, gearbox, gearing and winging. Its their best chance to unleash Seb with the most optimized car he can have. It will be pretty interesting to see what he can manage at the track which already won him a WDC in 2010.

148

hey! conspiracy theory no.6

maybe they knew his engine was on the way out, and they chose to do this so they could change it but not lose engine face....

it's no more far-fetched than any of the other ridiculous things i've read since last night

149

Nice!

I think he wants DOTD finally!

150

Another hopeless fix to spice up the end of the championship. No doubt fans will let this slide once again because it adds excitement but F1 is already hopelessly moving from sport to entertainment.

I don't mind that, but F1 needs to stop trying to pretend to be a sport. Particularly with so many manipulated results.

151

Any proof to what you refer? Or is one of those "obvious" things?

152

or 'another hopeless conspiracy theorist reading too much into everything in a determined effort to malign the sport'.

How exactly do you think this is a fix? Under what situations can you imagine anybody from Red Bull saying 'Yes Bernie/Jean/Whoever, we'll send out Vettel with too little fuel so that he will be sent to the back of the grid'.

You realise how MASSIVE a job it would be to fake something like this and not have people inside the team question it?

There's a LOT *already* wrong with formula 1 (well, Perelli mainly), there's no need to go looking for extra flaws where they don't exist.

153

+1

If you don't enjoy watching something entertaining you could always give WRC a shot?

154

So, to sum this up, they had a car problem which was accepted as a force majeure, but then even though that was the case, because there wasn't enough fuel in the car, DSQed him? Two "separate" issues? Right?

That's a lot different then "they short-fuelled him and then tried to fake fuel system problem to gain advantage".

That being said, if the problem was low fuel pressure, that can be back-traced to the fact that there wasn't enough fuel, which then seems kind of reduntant.

James, what's your take on this?

155

Was wondering about that one too, mate. They basically tried to "fool" the stewards by claiming the problem was "force majeure". As soon as I saw him stop on the track, I knew he was starting from the back of the grid, and I texted all my friends. Yet the confirmation came much letter. I agree with another poster above saying that they should be penalised further for "lying and wasting" the stewards' time. It was always a fuel issue.

156

I have no idea if it was or wasn't fuel issue alone, but the physics 101 suggests that there wouldn't be enough fuel pressure if there's no fuel 🙂

That being said, maybe they really had a fuel pickup problem. If so, they're really not making a good job communicating it to the fans. They're in this "fuel is there, we just can't extract it" loop. Sounds like the BAR Honda-gate a couple of years ago, are teams storing fuel as ballast again?

157

That´s completely amazing. I can´t believe that of all things that could happen, RBR fall for this one. ain´t complaining though. But one would assume that after spain and hamilton teams would be wise about this. What a face vettel must be putting now. Anyway, as Alonso put it some races ago, "we are the only ones that can afford a DNF". Not any longer, that right now belongs to the young german: even if he didn´t score this race, he would still be champion by winning the next two (and let´s face it, that is much likelier than ALO doing it). Alonso must be relieved, but it´s about time Ferrari did something of the quail pace of that car. By the way James, do you think it´s the car or this year´s quail has been Alonso´s weakest point in an otherwise amazing season?

158

More to do about the car than Alonso's skills in Qualy.

159

Not so sure that was true with this race. In Q1, Alonso was only ahead of Massa by 35-thousandths. In Q3, he ended up ahead by only 141-thousandths, and crucially, couldn't better his previous Q3 time on his second run.

Alonso should be at least three-tenths faster than Massa in qualifying.

To rafa, I think Alonso's done well in qualifying this year, on the whole. Abu Dhabi was not his best quali session, but over the whole year he's been quick.

160

Wow, an interesting grid just got a lot more interesting!

161

Bernie does write these Championships doesn't he! This is exactly what Alonso needs, here's hoping he makes the most of his chance and that other drivers take it easy in the first few corners! Bring on the race!

162

Is that Mika Salo in the picture with Vettel?

163

Lol. Maybe his son 🙂

Mika is like 45 or so.

164

The BBC are reporting that RedBull claimed Force Majeur for the reason they stopped out on track, and the FIA accepted this, it was only later during scruitneering that the lack of fuel was found.

Does this point to REdBull deliberately lying to the FIA to try to get away with it, or does it mean vettel also had some other problem?

165

It's not entirely inplausible that a fuel-related 'Force Majeur' was what caused the car to stop, and the same issue was what lead to there not being enough fuel in the tank.

Of course it's also entirely plausible that Red Bull didn't have enough fuel in the tank and manipulated the 'Force Majeue' and did indeed 'mislead' the stewards.

With no evidence to back up either theory, I have to stick with giving the benefit of the doubt.

166

I agree in toto. They tried to "fool" the FIA stewards, almost succeeded.

167

Did Red Bull give the stewards a "less than entirely accurate" reason for Vettel stopping on track?

168

Tuned on head!!!!!???? HOW?

If Vettel scores nothing on Sunday but wins next 2 races he will get 50 points. Alonso intern taking account his grid position tomorrow may get 3 second place finishs in a row totaling 18x3=54 points add that to the total and Vettel wins comfortably.

Heading should be 'Vettel penalized but not end of the world'

169

Before the disqualification, it was looking likely that Vettel would increase his lead in the Championship after today's race. Now it's more than likely the lead will be decreased, or even lost. I don't see how it could be turned any further on its head.

Of course, if you're just going to *assume* that Vettel wins the next two races then it's no big deal.

170

ASSUME**!!!!??? Vettel's Pit to Podium finish confirms it all.

The RedBulls on paper are the fastest car, for Alonso to win Vettel has to come 2nd or retire in the last two races.

171

Yes, but my comment was made before the race.

Alonso's face on the podium was the first time I saw the face of an Alonso who realized he had no chance of winning this championship.

Sad days

172

of course red bull have to win the next two races to be sure of the title for vettel. And this race was supposed to have vettel all over it and dont forget without the penalty he was still out qualified by Hamilton and webber so mclaren are still more than capable of helping Fernando out by stopping vettel wining.

173

Okay Vettel, this is your chance to prove all your doubters wrong!! The road to Greatness is ahead of you.

174

I foresee a repeat of Malaysia '12!!

175

Meanwhile it's an absolute disgrace that the stewards take over 4hrs just to reach this one decision.

I do not believe they had to tear down Sebi's car just to come to this conclusion.

I mean, this isn't C.S.I, maybe next time the FIA should skip dinner & get on with it.

176

I heard they scrutinise in the order cars return to the pits. Vettel's car obviously arrived last.

177

How? How could such clever people make such a basic mistake James?

And after McLaren had been so heavily punished did they think they could get away with it?

Or is Bernie somehow making sure the championship stays interesting?

178

James, thanks for all your good work. Quick question: if it was a mechanical failure that prevented Vettel to get to the pits, would the penalty be the same?

"The stewards received a report from the Race Director that car 1 failed to return to the pits under its own power as required under Article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations" do mechanical failures fall under other rules? Thanks

179

They were drawn in front of the stewards for not returning to the pits.

Red Bull offered an explanation. This was accepted and they were not penalised.

Later, under scrutineering, a fuel sample of 1 litre was attempted to be drawn from the car. Only 850ml could be drawn. It was for this reason they were penalised.

180

I just read some more, it sounds like Red Bull are saying they had a problem and they were short on fuel too. Coincidence? Sounds mighty suspicious...

181

First I would like to say It's good to see that the rules are finally being applied consistently for once. Hamilton got the same punishment in Spain so it's only fair that Vettel does as well.

When Hamilton started from the back of the grid in Spain, he was able to finish 8th. This is an opportunity for Vettel to prove he is good enough to overtake through heavy traffic and that his Driver's Championships is not just because of Adrian Newey. Last weekend, Alonso was the only driver in the top 10 on the grid to gain any position in an inferior car. He was able to finish 2nd with a brilliant drive.

Usually I would say that once again Red Bull was trying to cheat, but I really don't think that is the case this time. Red Bull's "Double DRS" strategy is only guarenteed to work if they quality at the front and then break free in the opening two laps before DRS use is allowed. If Vettel does not quality at the front or if Vettel makes an error in the first two laps and drops back, Vettel would have a problem.

With Hamilton on provisional pole, Red Bull was desperate to try and beat him. Weight is everything in Formula 1 so Red Bull tried to cut it as close as possible on fuel and failed. If Alonso wins the Driver's Championship, he should send Hamilton a brand new Ferrari 458 Italia as a "Thank You" gift. Earlier this week, Hamilton told reporters that he thinks that Alonso should win the Driver's Championship. What a turn-around from 2007 when they were team-mates at McLaren.

Tomorrow could potentially be a real problem for Vettel. Vettel is only fastest in the 3rd sector and is 23rd fastest in the DRS zones. The only driver slower is his team-mate Webber. It's almost impossible to over-take in sector 3. If you want to see the problem Vettel will have, just go back and watch last weekend's race with Kimi driving behind Massa because Kimi was too slow in the DRS zone.

Tomorrow, all eyes will be on Vettel to show us that his name can be mentioned in the same breathe as Hamilton and Alonso and that it's not just about the genius of Adrian Newey. Hamilton finished 8th.

182

I would like to add that Hamilton got to P8 when the Pirelli tires were still a mystery to all of the teams on the grid. Hamilton had to drive very cautiously inorder to make his strategy work.

The teams have a much better understanding of the Pirelli tires now. With the low degradation of the Pirelli tires at the Yas Marina Circuit, Vettel will be able to push 100% the entire race. Most teams will opt for a one-stop strategy.

183

As he is now starting from the pitlane, Red Bull will most likely change the engine, gearbox, gear ratios, and possibly less rear wing in order to overtake the slower cars. However, if he is to do a one stop, then he will have to drive accordingly in order to preserve the tyres. Starting on the medium tyre would be preferential for this, before switching to the soft, on which the Red Bull is stronger.

Although other situations can still occur, Fernando Alonso, after suffering a disastrous qualifying session, probably cannot believe his luck!

184

Cannot change gear ratios

185

As Fernando always said "anything can happen to anyone anytime. Today it's me, tomorrow it could be Vettel." He is so right !!

I am sure he will make maximum use of this opportunity.

Good luck !!

186

I suppose that shows how hard Red Bull are trying. They don't see themselves as being far ahead enough to relax at all.

187

Cool, sorry for Seb, but just the 'disaster' many of us hoped for, to prolong this exciting and almost unique season!

188

What the heck really happened? Red Bull wouldn't be so stupid. Was it some fault that caused the engine to use more fuel?

189

Watching this live, I assumed that it was an insufficient fuel situation - and not one due to a mechanical malfunction. While it may have been that (any word in that direction, James?), my immediate thought was that Red Bull had gotten a bit too slick in their effort to secure poll.

They may have just gotten slick enough to let the WDC slip through their fingers.

190

Mamma mia......throwing a spanner into the works!

james can u tell whether light fuelled Vette's car delibrately for improving lap time or his car was struggling with some fuel consumption issues?

191

One can feel for drivers when this happens, but a rule is a rule, and the FIA have to be seen to be constant in their application of penalties for any given offence. personally I think a more fair way of doing this would be simply a time penalty based on the advantage obtained by the fuel deficit. Based on this both Hamilton would have retained his pole position, and Vettel also would have retained his 3rd place on the grid, however since the fuel sample has to be tested for compliance, I suspect the FIA would say this would impact on their ability to test.

192

Come on Fernando punish Red Bull for this! This is the oppurtunity for Alonso! Ferrari have generally looked stronger in the race than in quali.

193

James,

Can Vettel now choose a tyre or the option is a must to start?

194

FIAarri blatantly helping alonso, interesting they didn't do anything about ferrari breaking the curfew rules! Once again Alonso once again benefitting from others problems.

195

The curfew rule says that a team has 4 opportunities to break curfew. It doesn't say 4 times a year, but only once per race.

196

Red Bull are apparently starting from the pitlane, so have the opportunity to modify the car before the race. Is there much they can do to reset the car for higher straightline speed, or would this be too tough without the chance to test in free practise sessions?

197

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

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

But no indication of the initial "explanation" and why it was considered force majeure. I wonder what they managed to concoct to argue that?

I have added a new word to my vocabulary "Bilk". Forthwith, for me, they are Red Bilk. (Look it up if you don't know either!)

198

What an excellent opportunity for Vettel to show how good or not he really is when he can't play the one trick pony of qualify on pole and escape DRS in the first 5 laps.

199

I don't really think so - with a long, long total DRS area, he just needs to overtake HRTs and Caterhams at first, then pick off Mercedes later to score OK points.

200

New gearbox too while he's back there?

Don't worry Seb, safety car help coming tomorrow!

201

I'm starting a rumour. The word is Ferrari are replacing Massa's rear view mirrors with bigger ones. Massa has a mission.

202

Well there's a surprise! I think we all knew from the look on his face it was a dry tank and not the alternator. This spices things up a bit. I feel sorry for him but for us fans this is ideal. Now if only we could have some rain....

203

If that's the case then the penalty is fair- a la Hamilton this year earlier.

But reading this story a Bourne movie came to mind, where the character Ezra Kramer says something like that: "You couldn't make this stuff up..."

204

Red Bull Racing - always with one foot over the edge. Now they got what they deserve.

I feel pity for Vettel - he hasn't done nothing wrong, but that's just the way it is.

Tomorrow they will both (Alo and Vet) drive as hell. Just put Mal and Gro away and good racing is guaranteed.

205

Well that's jolly handy for the the championship eh? Perhaps Bernie syphoned some fuel from Vettel's car! I really cannot understand how a multi-million dollar super professional team could make such a blunder, especially after McClaren set them an example earlier this season.

206

Aha... so now we know what Ferrai were doing whilst breaking the cuerfew....

207

He he. That's great!

208

Hahaha. Ferrari engineers were seen with a hose and a fuel tank walking in the opposite direcfion of the RBR garage late Friday night (whistling).

Just kidding. RBR fueled Seb's car in quali 3 so that he would be running on fumes in order to claim pole.

209

So they couldn't estimate the fuel he needed for qualifying. What is it? 3 laps. Thought they could make engine problem or something as an excuse for stopping.instead of the fact they low fuelled him for a quick lap. Doesn't sound good to me.

210

Should have added. Yours, as usual, is the first site I have seen this on.

211

I spy the deft hand of Bernie pulling the strings: "OK Christian, but NOT HERE, wait for Brazil !

212

Oh god

Excellent news

Iam too delighted and excited

Poor RBR know lewis cannot be beaten, so try a under fuelling run to seal pole and get away with it

Good job FIA stewards for being brave enough to punish the cheats

213

Don't know what problem is, but saying that they are cheating. Logic?

215

Now that they can change the set-up it should be interesting. Can he start on new tires too?

216

This'll spice up the GP tomorrow and the run-in for the WDC. Will Lee McKenzie get a pitwalk interview whilst he's on the way to the bog? Sport throws us these fantastic twists of fate from time to time. Great for spectators, sit back and enjoy.

217

Redbull is so stupid...........

But

Lewis in Barcelona is a differnt story. ma.. FIA is doing its job for "nando"

"Force majeure" was the case today. Not in Barcelona. McLaren did it before. That is why Lewis had to start from the back of the field.

So Vettel today was punished in the same way as Lewis in Barcelona.

But

Barcelona and Abu Dhabi are different cases.

218

@ FRANK

FIA have no obligation to do the job for fernando

You people once again started alonso bashing.

RBR tried to be too clever and paid the price for it

Well done FIA stewards for punishing the cheats and doing justice

No stories by you frank please

This is quite simple to understand. RBR want vettel to take pole not P3

RBR know lewis cannot be beaten, so try a under fuel run to seal pole and get away with it (Random sampling)

You have fooled stewards all season long RBR (Flexing wings, Hole in the floor, Adjustable ride height ETC). However not this time around

Despite having quickest car and entire team behind him. Vettel still needs something else [mod]) to take P1. What a shame

219

In Spain McLaren were penalised for not returning to the pit lane. Their claim Force Majure was rejected. The did have enough fuel in the tank for a sample (due to stopping out on track).

Here, Red Bulls claim of Force Majure was accepted and they were not penalised for stopping out on track. However, even though they *did* stop on track, there was not enough fuel in the tank for a sample. They were penalized for this. A subtle but important difference. Luckily for F1 fans (but not for the media who would love the outburst if it were not the case), the penalty for both violations is the same.

220

Please explain to me why this is different than Hamilton's grid penalty in Spain. Sure, Hamilton's was due to one of his mechanics not putting enough fuel in his car, but the rule clearly states that you must have at least 1 liter on your car at the end of Q3 for testing.

Hamilton: Less than 1 liter in his car = grid penalty

Vettel: Less than 1 liter in his car = grid penalty

Seems the same to me.

If you get caught speeding, do you think the cop cares why you were speed? Rhetorical question.

You should be happy that the FIA is finally being consistent in their ruling.

221

Hamilton had enough fuel in his car (see below)

222

James,

what is your personal view on this? Was it a genuine technical issue, or did they simply not put enough fuel in and then tried to cover their tracks?

If the latter, then surely after what happened in Spain they should have let him continue and gamble on him not being asked for a fuel sample.

223

Red Bull have decided to start Vettel from the pits, isn't it unfair to use a penalty to make adjustments to the car that will help in traffic?

I would think that the spirit of the rules is similar to a drive-through penalty where penalized drivers are not allowed to change tyres, for example. A penalty should not lead to an opportunity to improve the car.

224
Bring Back Murray

That's Alonso's reward for hanging on in there all those races and maximizing every single opportunity.

When something unexpected like this happens he's on the playing field.

225

He was already doing that in '05 when Kimi's car kept breaking. Alonso was always right there.

226
Bring Back Murray

Like Senna used to do when Williams and Mansesll were dominating

227

Alonso's one and final chance! Vettel may yet salvage something tomorrow. Good to see some consistency from the stewards. Red Bull just did a Mclaren!

229

If I didn't know "the powers that be" in

F1 were men of outstanding character and

beyond reproach...

Well, it does improve the "show".

Tim

230
Tornillo Amarillo

Wow, you wrote a post "No room for error..." and RBR did it!

Maybe Vettel can be 5th or 6th and get many points, anyway tomorrow he has a great opportunity to show his value as a driver and become a three times world champion soon. Time will tell, Ferrari doesn't give up.

231

He will be under a lot of pressure on Sunday,having to mix it at the back of the field and managing to avoid the 'usual suspects' will be a big ask, I bet Fernando will allow himself a wry smile tonight!

232

Well, well, well... an unexpected turn of events - who'd have thought that a Red Bull, on a v. light fuel load, couldn't beat Hamilton's McLaren during qualifying?!

Surely more than meets the eye here.

233

Wow. Just wow. I would've thought that everyone would've learned from McLaren's cock-up in Spain, but I guess not. This is the absolute worst timing for Vettel.

Again, as I said in Spain quali, the FIA should be taking a one litre sample after each qualifying session, so that Vettel could be relegated to 10th, and then perhaps a 3-to-5 place penalty applied on that.

So Kimi gets Pastor beside him now.

I expected and was hoping for some dramatic moment to happen in the run-in. This qualifies, but I also have to believe that that pit exit tunnel will one time catch somebody out, they'll tag it, and then anyone behind who's pitted will be screwed while they work to clear the binned car.

JA, so the car's out of parc ferme now. So can they adjust ride height, etc.?

234

Kimi is behind Maldo.

Hope you're not prophetic with the tunnel business.... because I think ALO and HAM will be pitting at the same time and following KAR out of the tunnel.

235

Hello James,

how is it possible that in such a perfectionist environment where only the brightest brains are working, such a big mistake can be made? I say big because:

a) it's not the first time this mistake has

happened this season (Hamilton -> Spain).

The first thing a team principal should do

after McLaren's error is to ensure this

kind of error doesn't happen inside his own

team.

b) from a risk-benefit analysis it doesn't

make any sense to go straight to the limit

without any margin. How much lap-time is

1kg of fuel worth? 3 tenths? The FIA

measured 850 ml (without removing bodywork

which I assume Red Bull knew). So we're

talking about 150 ml that are missing which

is more or less 110 mg and therefore about

3 hundredths of a second. Pretty small gain

compared to starting from the end of the

grid.

236

The gain was greater than your estimation as he should have been fueled for the lap back to the pits.

237

It is a big mistake, and a rare one

238

Surely, if Red Bulls claim of Force Majure for stopping out on track was accepted (as was not the case in the McLaren incident) then one has to knowledge that whatever the mechanical issue was that forced Vettel to stop on track *may* well have also been responsible for the incorrect fuel load being left in the tank?

239

The conspiracy theorists will be having a field day over this one.

240

Yup, hilarity prevails.

As they're already bouncing about here's my conspiracy theory:

I think Rocky somehow made sure that Vettel didn't have enough fuel as payback for all the sh*tty comments he's been giving him over the radio recently.

Anybody else noticed that that relationship seems to be souring somewhat?..

241

Where did you notice it? Are you working in RBR? 🙂 Seems that it's ok.

242

I don't think you need to be working in Red Bull to notice the friction.

Radio Transmissions are broadcast on the world feed

243

Hi James,

Can't the set up be changed of Vettel starts from the pit lane?

244

There is a god! I shall never sin again. Amen

245

Wow, way to save the season......Bernie, is that you hiding around the back of the RBR garage?

246

It is more difficult to arrange for some rain in Abu Dhabi ..... so a penalty like is thinkable to spice up the championship:)

247

Vettel will be stuck behind Petrov whole race! =>

248

Red Bull up to their usual rule bending and trying to plead innocent!

249

+1 you make complete sense

Excellent post

250

Yes yes yes, I mean great for the championship of course

251

Fortune favors the brave !!!

Alonso will catch up Vettel in the WDC battle, fortunately !!!

Vel.

252

Can't wait for the race, Vettel will finally have to show the world what he can really do.

253

I reckon some of Seb's friends will move over for him - STR, timo, msc, the hulk, and Lotus if he makes it that far.

254

Torro rosso probably goes without saying. But why Hulk and Glock? and the Lotuses?

255

I agree. I've always admired how some drivers eg Alonso, Hamilton, Webber + Button can land on the podium or get some decent points even if they started near the bottom of the grid due to some mishap. They don't lose their head but put their race craft to good use.

256

Sometimes I'm left with the feeling that Bernie has a top secret ring master "prolonging the magic" team whose primary objective is to force teams to do inane stuff, just to stretch the TV ratings 'til the last race.

Then I remind myself that truth is stranger than fiction and I go about my daily life, with dreams of blue and red pills...

257

Congratulatipns to Red Bull for doing the impossible. They've made Abu Dhabi interesting.

258

Well said.

Such a great venue but such a dud track...what a waste.

260

The plot thickens...

261

With Seb's car removed from parc-ferme, can RB play with setup and give him a higher top gear or lower drag rear wing settings? Or is he still stuck with quality setup? #gowebber

262

Apparently they R going to start from pits. Wonder if that will allow them to alter setup ?

263

He'll now be starting from the pit, and so will be able to change the setup more towards overtaking than leading. Seems a rule loop-hole to allow a penalty to take such an advantage.

Alonso will probably finish ahead of him, but not by much.

264

WOW! Can this season get any more exciting?

Vettel needs to get past everyone and Alonso needs to get past Maldonado.

BRING IT ON!!!

265

Although i like Vettel very much, this is just what the championship needed. Bernie must be liking his lips over this. Another championship battle down to Brazil most likely. AS it should be!

266

The penalty adds more spice to what has been the most unpredictable season ever, the sad thing is that a technical problem with a fuel injector (or something similar) will be made out by ignorant fans to look like "RBR Cheating again" The penalty is fair, but the smear isn't.

267

I'm not a fan of Vettel and want alonso to win the wrc but if Vettel can get in the top five from last he may win some new fans. Time to show the last two championships weren't just because of the car.

268

I hope we learn exactly what happened to Vettel's car - since it sounded so urgent that Renault (and not Red Bull) told him to stop on track asap. Since the fuel cell is right behind the driver, I wonder if they worried about a cell failure, that could lead to a fire? You bet they're worried! and need to investigate outside Park Ferme.

269

Oh dear

Can he now select the tyres to use or does he still have to use his qualifying tyres

270

He can choose his tyres; or he certainly should be able to - for all intents and purposes he never took part in qualifying!

271

Opting to start from pitlane definitely allows tyre change

272

This is too obvious a mistake.

Surely I am not the only person who suspects this

wasn't in truth an accidental event ...

273

One of the great years of F1!

Just wondering, would the stewards have caught Vettel if he hadn't stopped on track? hm...

274

Oh. My. Word. Things have now got very interesting!

Kimi for WDC a la 2007 anyone?

275

Yes, because his car is looking *particularly* strong at the moment, isn't it?...

276

Then... Drama

277

"... but for Alonso to make major inroads into Vettel’s points lead he needs a strong podium finish,"

What is a weak podium performance?

279

It's not the same offence as Mclaren commited with Lewis as they were still able to produce 1 ltr of fuel to be tested. Red bull could not,so they should be disqualified altogether. Mclaren stopped so there would be enough fuel to test in the car, red bull stopped to try and hide the fact that there wasn't enough fuel to test.

280

Overtaking by DRS will not be so easy for Vettel due to the short 7th gear ratio they use to "escape" when they qualify on the first row.

They will touch the rev limiter on straight line easier than others.

Remember that gear ratios must be given to FIA technical stewards after FP2 and be kept until race end, no matter if you change gearbox.

So the only way will be try to reduce drag and at the same time avoid touching rev limiter.

Difficult task ........

281

Except they can change all that by starting from the pit lane

282

Yes! not that i dislike Vettel, in fact i don't dislike, or have any favorite driver i just wish for the most exiting race possible, and i think this has made the championship as a whole much more exiting!

283

Apparently Vettel will start from the Pit Lane as RBR want to investigate why there was the "problem". Opens up some opportunities.

284

Vettel should make it into top 10 and salvage a few points. Question is how much further up the grid will Alonso progress in the race. Realistically, he needs a podium to affect really help his World Championships.

But who wrote this script?

286

But if Vettel has chosen to start from the pitlane he can surely make some set-up changes to base on overtakes? Basically he can abandon the lead from the front set up and reassess.

Alonso just needs to make another start like India and things could get interesting again...

I hate conspiracy theories but even though I was bizarrely supporting alonso this week (despite being a mclaren fan) you do have odd thoughts of conspiracy to make the season end more dramatic...no,no, I'm clearly raving!

287

Since we (cough - I) don't vote for him for Driver of the day on the grounds that he's first into the first corner and does nothing after that at least he has a chance of winning that. He's never won with a grid position lower than 4th, so I'm not expecting that.

288

Vettel will never win driver of the day on this forum. Doesn't, really mater were he finishes.

289

If he wins starting from the pit lane, he will get my vote and I am a LH fan.

290

It's really hard to pick a lights-to-flag win as driver of the day, regardless of who it is, when you see so much racing down the field. If Vettel does well today he may well earn driver of the day.

291

Maybe because he isn't "driver of the day"... or maybe everyone just has it wrong and no one understands?

292

+1

Even if he drives through the whole field and wins, it won't be enough.

294

I think Alonso will struggle to finish higher than third, so while this keeps the championship alive, it still leaves Ferrari needing to beat Red Bull in the last two races. This title is still Seb's to lose.

Should be fun watching Fernando chase down Kimi and Mark.

295

Kimi's car is not that fast in the DRS zones. Go back and watch the Indian Grand Prix. He wasn't able to pass Massa the entire race.

The Red Bull cars are very fragile. Webber has had KERS problems for the past two races. Vettel had brakes issues today. Who is to say that the problem that happened to Vettel's car in qualifying won't happen to Webber's car. Afterall, they are identical cars.

I really don't think that Vettel had a car problem in Q3. Red Bull was just trying to save weight with fuel because Lewis Hamilton was kicking their ass in qualifying and failed. Starting from the pitlane is just so that they can change gearing, engine, or wings setting because they are the slowest team in the DRS zones and Vettel will need to pass a lot of cars if he wants to score any points.

296

I really, really don't think Red Bull were *that* desperate to cover Hamilton, seeing how much faster they were than Alonso - Vettel's only title challenger. If that really did turn out to be the case then there must be something funny in the water in Abu Dhabi - as that's an even worse call than Ferrari covering Webber in the race 2 years ago!

297

Yes, I also can't believe that tey took such a high risk für beetingn Hamilton - there must be an other reason. I'm sure, they were happy that Alonso was so manny places behind them.

298

If you read the full transcript of the post qualifying press conference, Webber fancies his chances of getting ahead of Hamilton at the start. Could be sparks and no team orders to consider this time. His last start was pretty good. Webber is also racing Hamilton for 3rd in the championship.

Apparently, he also won't be having a bet on the race (or the Melbourne cup).

299

You may laugh, but Hamilton said in the same interview that "I've had some very very bad starts but that's down to clutch performance". Yes, it was Hamilton who said that (and not Webber).

Webber's starts are a mixed lot. Britain in 2010 was very good. Spain 2011 was a shocker. Last few starts have been better (particularly in India). And no team orders to consider tonight.

All good stuff. All will be revealed tonight.

300

I like Webber, but his record on starting is not so hot, so I don't see it happening.

301

If I had the bet(Webber's answer in the post-qualifying press conference) on who will have the better start, my money would be on Hamilton. Hamilton might not have had the best start last weekend, but Webber has had some horrible starts.

If I was Webber, I wouldn't worry about getting a better start than Hamilton. Webber should be worried about Maldonado not crashing into him at the first corner.

Webber also needs to worry about his car making it to the finish line. The Red Bulls are very fragile.

302

Is Red Bull able to change setup seeing as Vettel is starting from the pit lane?

303

Yes. That is exactly why Red Bull is willing to start from the pitlane. They can change gearing, engines, and wing settings.

304

And I thought this was going to be one of the boring races. Both Alonso and Vettel need to move up big time. Should be fun.

305

It's good news for the race itself because it will have tons of thrill and emotion... too bad for RB, that's a clear team mistake. However, since Vettel's car will start the race from the pitlane, and thus his car's set up will be altered to have more straightline speed, I suppose he will be able to gain advantage from the long DRS zone and get some valuable points, maybe P7 or P8...

And Alonso will have to avoid a collision at the start of the race, and later be able to overtake fast cars such as Maldonado's, Webber's or Button's.... It will be harsh, but the F2012, in Alonso's hands has proven several times it's got pace to do it so during the race.

As I said, it's going to be fun!! However I still think this WDC is actually for Vettel and RB to lose, since the RB8 looks to master the F2012 by far...

Cheers, and enjoy the race!

306

Shows how much I know - I guess Red Bull changed the gear ratios.

307

Wow! I do not know what they did change in the car, but that was the hell of a race!!! Vettel did have some good luck with the safety cars, and the multiple crashes and retirements which happened during the race, but credit must be given to both him and Alonso, for the great race they delivered. Fantastic Kimi as well, and bad luck again for Lewis.... Great race !

308

I agree in general, but I would be surprised if Red Bull changed the wing settings. The team has worked on a balance for handling purposes and will have similarly set gear ratios for acceleration and top speed.

If Red Bull has the bits for it, a DRS wing that drops more drag, but is unsuitable for use in corners such as turns 3 and 4, would be one change with little pain.

Vettel just needs to be able to overtake. The trick would be managing the tactics around the two DRS zones to be ahead after the second one. If the overall lap time is reduced, attempts at running in clear air would be compromised.

309

I'm reading on Autosport that they had a fuel cell problem and they've pulled the car from parc ferme to get to the bottom of it, so he'll be starting from the pitlane putting him even further back.

Very unusual, I don't think I've ever heard of a fuel cell problem in 15 years of following F1.

310

i'm happy webber outqualified vettel.

but, vettel's fuel problem is timed so perfectly, it makes me wonder if F1 is just like WWF Wrestling? it just seems exactly what the punters wanted to create a brazil showdown...

that said, it should be an interesting race!

311

It will be interesting to see how Vettel goes. Hamilton had the quickest car in Barcelona, and could get to 8th by saving a pitstop. While Hamilton couldn't use the performance advantage all the time as it would destroy the tyres, it does aid overtaking.

Vettel is missing about 0.4 seconds per lap advantage versus the cars fighting for 10th in maximum pace compared to what Hamilton had in Spain. Hamilton also started on the grid, not the pit lane, so Hamilton made up places on the first lap, where it is more likely Vettel won't.

If we assume Vettel will one stop, then if he stops early, to undercut cars, it could just trigger others to follow, so it would come back to passing on the track. Stopping later puts you at the disadvantage of being on old tyres versus new and trying to make gains.

The double DRS zones here will be interesting here too. The first one would potentially allow a driver to avoid using much KERS to then attack in the second. Even with low top speeds, at 19th, 23rd and 24th, Hamilton, Webber and Vettel were the fastest through sector 2 in qualifying. The top speeds vary with the DRS effect anyway, so the race effect is had to judge, but areas where the McLaren and Red Bull are gaining time in Q2, the braking zones and corners will remain. The cars Vettel is trying to pass will lose their DRS advantage.

So relative to Hamilton in Spain, I think Hamilton had the advantage of relatively better car, across the field less of an understanding about the tyres and greater degradation curves to exploit (there was surprise that Hamilton made two stops work) and starting on the grid. Vettel's advantage is a track where DRS does allow passing.

To get to 8th, Vettel would have to find probably 20 seconds over the race to catch a Lotus to counteract field spread while running in traffic. Hamilton did it by stopping less. Vettel probably has to do it by finding clear air, or a safety car.

Cheers,

Martin

312

Why no mention of the [mod] underhanded manner in which Horner and the Redbull team handled this? They blatantly lied when Horner said he had no idea what was wrong and that Renault had told them to stop the car. Surely a journalist would find these FACTS intriguing?

313

Because there's no evidence to suggest Red Bull lied. There was a problem with the car which made them stop out on track. There was not enough fuel in the car to take a sample. Is it really so hard to believe that the incorrect amount of fuel could be related to the problem which forced the car to stop?

I dislike Red Bull, but I'm starting to dislike disliking Red Bull - as I really dislike being associated with other people who dislike Red Bull.

It's one think to dislike a team or driver for whatever reason. It's totally another thing to dislike a team or driver SO MUCH that you loose all sense of reason.

314

Please....You must have been watching a different qualifying session to me then. Redbull received the disqualification for short fueling, FACT. Do really believe they didn't know that when they told Vettel to stop the car? Did you see SV's reaction when asked about it in the press conference straight after? I dislike Redbull yet Mark Webber is one of my favorite drivers on the grid, figure that one out! I dislike Redbull for the way go about their business in this sport. It was clear that Horner and co. were attempting shift the focus form what was the real issue to avoid a penalty. This is just another despicable act in a long and ever growing list!

My point was that true objective journalism would have addressed this, but i guess that's hard when you make friends with people you are expected to remain objective with....

315

So they are so stupid, that they decided to not put enough fuel and then stop. James Clayton explained to you, that problem was related to fuel system. But you have strong logic - didn't read - post comment.

316

Nice response Sir.

317

Hmmmm.just when you think its all over. Something happens to spice it up again.

318

James, any idea why it took so long for this news to come about? Well it seems that way to me. I wonder if the team knew he was short fueled (intentional or not) and tried to cover it up with 'faking' a technical issue.

Either way, it plays into Alonso's hands for a great chance to close that gap.

Oh and on what side will pole position be on?

319

Charlie Whiting was having dinner and decided to let the news out later.

320

Surely they can change tje gear ratios on the car. Or is it still in Parc Ferme? I suppose he could start from the pitlane. Although with the field spread that bad, he'll probably want to be on the grid.

321

Apparently they've decided to pull the car out of Parc Ferme and start from the pit lane. How much will they be able to do to improve the set-up for overtaking?

322

I find it a little amusing that even running on vapours Vettel didnt beat Webber

323

James, when we read things that say "Pirelli ordered" or "Renault ordered" is that really correct?

Do these mere vendors have the authority?

Or is it just shorthand for "the vendor told the team manager that [something] was going to fail if they didnt stop?"

324

Ooooh! just when I hoped Maldonado would rear end Vettel in the 1st corner to save us from a dull season ending, Reb Bull mess up by themselves