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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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SC on Lap 40. We can see Seb on podium now :)!!!


My prediction – Hamilton will lead from start to finish, Vettel will start from the pit lane and finish 8th, Alonso will start 6th and finish 4th and get voted DoTD.


Such mishaps can happen and I don’t care if Red Bull Racing make a mistake, as they do very few. But what I really care about is that they are bulls***ting the public with lame excuses like he stopped because of an “electronics problem”. Oh, please, Mr. Horner..

Just keep it real. People fancy some honesty, don’t you think?


I see my comment from last night wasnt accpeted. Didn’t like me pointing out that Autosport has a more complete technical aspects of this story?


No, there’s no sign of it in Trash or Spam, so no idea where it went – Mod


Its a tradition in the making of the World Championship Leaders facing problems in Yas Marina Circuit.

First it was Alonso losing out WDC.

Vetel having won WDC failed to finish last year.

This year it is Vetel again with qualifying fiasco.


Fantastic conspiracy theories, as with most conspiracy theories they’re easily deflated by applying logic to them.

Stewards have accepted the reason the car stopped was a valid one using a lot more information than anyone here has.

Then they were told a sufficient fuel sample could not be taken, which maybe a very different thing from the car didn’t have enough fuel in it.

Just for example it may be telemetry showed a fuel leak which would be a very adequate reason for stopping the car straight away. It would also explain why a sample couldn’t be taken.

Just one logical explanation.


Start will be very crucial as will be the race pace of Sebastian after the team changed his race set up overnight.

Hamilton will win this one easy as the Mclaren showed good pace in FP2 on both soft and hard tyres.

As for Alonso we don’t realy know what the car is capable of, Ferrari qualified worse then usual and probably the updates will come alive during the race. I find it strange that someone as Maldonado got in the mix with a clearly inferior car.

Makes me believe Alonso is simply not good enough over one lap but he’s a master in consistent race pace.

I predict Ham for the win, Web 2nd and Alonso 3rd.


Webber will now be under even more pressure from his team to finish ahead of Alonso.


James is it possible that the red bull team has faked the fuel problem in order to change a defective engine. could they have gained any advantage doing this ?


No, they would have started P13, not P24+


“Maldonado Must Deliver”!!!

God help us. Please don’t fire him up any more. Do they want him to take out the nice 5 star hotel that the BBC commentator is so impressed by??

“There’s that wonderful 5 star de luxe hotel there again….”


Big mistake from a big team…… No I won’t bite, there is more into it; fuel in another cell? thus a truly forced stop. So, Engine? Gearbox? Alternator again? Fuel pump? Fluid allocation system mall function? Cheating hiding? Ding Ding Dong DNF’ong’ !


An engine change is “only” a 10 place penalty. Gearbox is only five places. All a lot better than starting from back of the grid.


that’s the point… they replaced everything to finish 3rd.


As the championship progresses, these comment sections seem to get worse and worse.

Vettel had to stop due fuel cell problem. The call to stop came from Renault. There was enough fuel in the car. Red Bull just couldn’t extract it without taking the bodywork off.

Rules state: “The sampling procedure must not necessitate starting the engine or the removal of bodywork (other than the cover over any refuelling connector)”

So same penalty as Hamilton earlier this season, which is consistent. Vettel starts from pit lane so they can inspect the car and make modifications for the race.

Bad for Vettel, good for Alonso and us spectators 🙂


Horner has made reference to a problem with the fuel cell. RBR will have worked on it last night & will now start from the pit lane.


Redbull fuel man will be fired from his error.

Next race, one of Vettel tyre will be fill with less air.

Both guy who handle this will get the job at Ferrari next year as reward.


With Pastor and Grosjean both in the Top 10, the Pitlane may well be a very smart place to start from.

Quite possible that Seb will pick-up five or more places in the first corner just by carefully picking his way thru the destruction !


Very funny. Had me spitting my coffee.


Well, Grosjean was in the thick of it, but he bore no fault. It was Hulkenberg of all people trying to put his car into a gap that was in the process of getting squeezed.


I wonder if the Mclarens will help Alonso ….like 1997


I’ll assume you mean Jerez … I don’t see how that was help. That was Williams basically telling McLaren that JV wouldn’t fight them over the lead, would cede it to them, just make sure they don’t run into him.

While obviously disgusted at what Schumacher tried to pull that day, in the end the deserving driver won out, and it was one of F1’s greatest all-time races.


James how does this happen? It seems incredible that a top team can’t measure how much fuel they put in the car! Equipment failure?

From the outside it looks like a football team returning to the pitch in over time for a ‘golden goal’ decider only to discover the opposing team not even on the pitch at all. Then watching that unopposed team carefully passing the ball down field, lining it up in front of their own posts and booting it in for an own goal!!!

Can you explain and help us understand what looks like unimaginably stupendous self sabotage?!?


Perhaps the way Newey has designed the fancy aero on the RB has required the fuel tank to be shaped or contured in such a way that when fuel is very low it is not being adequately sucked up. If so, then it is a case of over-complexity causing a seemingly overlooked negative side-effect.

Is this a possibility? Or is there specific regulated dimensions for fuel tanks?


I think maybe there is a problem with fuel not being picked up in various sections of the tank


i totally agree with Allen! very objective analysis… i expect Hamilton will have a controlled race from the start only if “he starts well” webber will be the runner up & most probably Alonso will be finishing in 4th position. As for vettel, i’m not seeing him in the Top ten; hopefully he can manage to score some points which will be very vital for the championship… let it be a pure racing, we dont want to see any DNF or penalties from now on!!!!


In Japan, Webber worked his way up to 9th after being spun at the start. Top 10 is possible, but not much more (unless something very spectacular happens at the start).


I think Red Bull should get further penalties for [mod] misleading the stewards about the cause of stopping on track …. the have probably been bending the rules all season and not getting caught


A mini championship has begun again. That’s what I’m talking about ringadingading.

I can see Nando grinning from ear to ear.

Good for us fans though.


Vettel starts from the box and I’m sure, he will start with the harder tyres. The firt 10-15 cars he can also overtake with the slower tyres and the faster cars, which then will have the slower ones, he can better overtake with the faster tyres.

Because of the traffic at the beginning, he also can’t take such a big advantage of faster tyres.


This news really couldn’t be better for F1. Watching Seb take his finger to another weekend of easy cruising was punishing the sport.

Now we get to see him under pressure to really show his mettle. All the best races are won when a driver struggles and works miracles from the back. How about Button’s astonishing win in Canada in 2011? That’s what we want to see!


Could it be that Renault just got the fuel mileage prediction wrong and they were running very close to the margin? The weather and changing conditions at this track must mess with mileage? I just don’t see why a team would risk breaking the rules in this situation for such a small gain. Too much risk.


Tim, if you want me to change my online name from “Tim”, I’ll do so. I’ve been using this for some time now, and would prefer not to “change horses in mid-stream”. Please respond asap. Thank you,



Is this me or you? Am I you, or are you me?


Boring – please sort it out


Lets make a guess:

Vettel will run over a muslim owl on lap 23 and that will end up in a…

5 hour investigation by the stewards


F1 better sport since ages


Interesting, yes, but I don’t think we can say Advantage Alonso just yet. Fernando will struggle to even be ahead of Vettel on points at the end of the race and we still have two races left in which Red Bull have a clear pace advantage.


Woohoo! Now that’s what I’m talking about!


And what if RBR replaces with fresh gearbox and put newest upgrades overnight ?

This should also be handled and checked by FIA (not only CW) acc. regs. And since the car will leave parc ferme RBR has some other oppurtunities ….. it smells fishy.


So RBR would do all this to go from 3rd on the grid to last?

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