F1 Winter Break
Hamilton hammered by stewards for fuel issue in qualifying
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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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?


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.


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?


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.


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.


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. http://fia.com/en-GB/sport/regulations/Pages/FIAFormulaOneWorldChampionship.aspx" rel="nofollow">(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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!"

Warren Groenewald

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


Check and Mate!


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


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!


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


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.


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.


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.


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!


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?


Nice point.


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.


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...


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.


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.


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


Nope. One fixed penalty for this offence.

Matt Devenish

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.


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.


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


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.


I do agree with our comment.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Chris Mellish

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.


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.


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?


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.


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


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?

Johnny English

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.


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.


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 😀


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.


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.


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


well noticed and well said...

Jeevan balan Manoj

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


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.


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


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.


"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


..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.


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.


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?


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


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.


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

Alanis Morissette

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


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!


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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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

William Wilgus

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?


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?


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 !!!!


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.


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!


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...


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?


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...)


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


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!


He'll have to get past Massa!


Not possible on these tyres


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?


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


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?


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?

Johnny English

Would you say the same if Alonso would have been in Hamilton's place?

Yes, penalty is a bit too harsh


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.


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'.


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.


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).


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


mclaren ruined the race and all by themselves.


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..


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.


How about a vintage Kimi drive to win the race


What a scenario that would be! Bring it on!


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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 😀

James Clayton



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?


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


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.


you couldn't be more wrong


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 ?


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


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.

William Wilgus

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.


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!


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

Johnny English

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


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.


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.


Its a mandatory penalty.


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


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 =(


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


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


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.



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.


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!


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.


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?


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.


all laps using the lesser fuel load would be disqualified.


Which laps were these?


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


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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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?


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...


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.


These guys work under tremendous pressure


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


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.

David McClune

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?


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


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....


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...


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.


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.


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....?


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


like he did at williams ?


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?


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.


Wasted, unfortunately.


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


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


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


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


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.


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....


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


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


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...?


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.

James Clayton

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.


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).


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


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?


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?


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


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?


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.


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


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


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.


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


He'd miss f1 more than it him


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


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


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

Umar Ali Hayat

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...

Sufyaan Patel

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


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


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


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.


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.


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.

James Clayton

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.


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.


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


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


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


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


Stupid tyre rules, I agree.


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


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.


Why blame Ferrari for anything that happens to McLaren?!

grow up...


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.


That's freaking ridiculous, i'm guetted


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!


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....


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




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.


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


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

Paul Woods-smith

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!


Yes, but will the tires let him to?!


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?


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.

James Clayton

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


14 yrs to be precise

James Clayton

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!)


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

Boris Schleck

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.


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'?


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.


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?


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


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.


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.


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


he was pretty good at williams

James Willford

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.


"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.

James Clayton

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


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.


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...


Sam Michael, Williams move forward when he left

Mclaren stumble and bumble around


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.


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.


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.


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.


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...


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.


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.


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




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


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

This is a ridiculous suggestion


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


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

Boris Schleck

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.


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.

Robert Gunning

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!


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.


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...


I haven't noticed the "Driver specific punishment" section the the regulations. Maybe they have but I somehow doubt that.


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


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.


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.


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.


Totally agree Andrew


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.


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.


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 🙂


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


What on earth is happening with Mclaren?

Fumble after fumble, unreal!


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


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


Good call.



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




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.


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!!!!!

Philippe Lasry

Rules are rules...


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


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.


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).


Is this a Sam Michael responsibility?


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????


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


Lotus 1-2 that would be sweet!

Or a Williams win.


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.


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.


It was not fuel pump error it was human error.


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.


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"".


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

Philippe Lasry

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



I think McLaren is doing all it can frustrate LH.

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

James Clayton

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!


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


Lets wait and see..


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.


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!


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.


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)?


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


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.


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..


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.


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.


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.


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

(I think Lewis might be interested, too.)


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!


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.


This would never have happened under Ron Dennis


Silverstone '91, Germany '91, Silverstone '92, Silverstone '93...


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


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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?


Here here.

Shocking inconsistency.

Simon stillwell

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.


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


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!


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.


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


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.....