Lisa Davidson, F1 correspondent
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who this afternoon posted the fastest lap time of 1.22.583 for the Spanish Grand Prix, earning him his third pole position of the 2012 FIA Formula One season, has this evening had his qualifying times nullified due to a violation of the F1 Technical Regulations. Specifically, Hamilton stopped on the Circuit de Catalunya, apparently because he had run out of fuel. He did so reportedly on the instructions of his engineers.
However, a driver must submit a fuel sample after qualifying. Since Hamilton was unable to do so, all of his qualifying laps have now been disallowed. Williams argued that Hamilton’s lack of fuel constituted a “Force Majuere” (A force majeure is essentially an unavoidable accident.) "A team member had put an insufficient quantity of fuel into the car, thereby resulting in the car having to be stopped on the circuit in order to be able to provide the required amount for sampling purposes,” explained the FIA in a statement. “As the amount of fuel put into the car is under the complete control of the competitor, the stewards cannot accept this as a case of force majeure.”
"The Stewards determine that this is a breach of Article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations and the Competitor is accordingly excluded from the results of the Qualifying Session. The Competitor is however allowed to start the race from the back of the grid."
So, by default, the pole position will go to Pastor Maldonado of the Williams F1 team. As it has been nearly two years since a Williams started at the top of the grid, this ruling should have some rather interesting results. For starters, Fernando Alonso of Ferrari will now start on the front row, something that will undoubtedly please the Spaniard-filled grandstands. There will be an all Lotus second row, whose drivers ended 2nd and 3rd at the Bahrain GP and are itching for the win. And back further down on the fourth row will be two German multi World Champions, Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher. Plus it should be interesting to watch the beleaguered Hamilton fight his way back to the front of the field.
Inevitably, a certain amount of sympathy will accrue to Hamilton, and the whole matter has elements of an almost operatic tragedy to it. Tune in tomorrow for “As The Rev Limiter Turns”.