• Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying

Hamilton excluded from qualifying

Laurence Edmondson May 12, 2012 « Morning problem slightly slows Grosjean | Maldonado delighted with first pole »
Lewis Hamilton was told to stop his car out on track © Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton has been stripped of his pole position and will start from the back of the grid at Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix after failing to return to the pits under his own power at the end of Q3.

Hamilton stopped on track at turn nine after setting his pole position time, breaking Article 6.6.2 of the sport's technical regulations that requires cars to return to the pits to give a fuel sample. McLaren argued that he stopped for reasons of force majeure because a team member failed to fuel his car sufficiently, but the FIA rejected that explanation saying: "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 FIA statement added: "The stewards heard from the [McLaren] team representative Mr Sam Michael who stated that the car stopped on circuit for reasons of force majeure. 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."

In a press briefing ahead of the stewards' investigation, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh revealed the car had 1.3 litres left in the tank when it stopped on track. The FIA requires one litre for a fuel sample, but Article 6.6.2 - which was introduced after Hamilton stopped on track at the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix in similar circumstances - also requires the car to return to the pits under its own power. The stewards deemed that Hamilton did not have sufficient fuel to do so and McLaren accepted the verdict.

Article 6.6.2 reads: "Competitors must ensure that a one litre sample of fuel may be taken from the car at any time during the event. Except in cases of force majeure (accepted as such by the stewards of the meeting), if a sample of fuel is required after a practice session the car concerned must have first been driven back to the pits under its own power."

Hamilton has been excluded from qualifying as a result and will have to start from the back of the grid. The verdict means Pastor Maldonado will start from the front of the grid and Williams has taken its first pole position since the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix.

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Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1 Laurence Edmondson grew up on a Sunday afternoon diet of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell and first stepped in the paddock as a Bridgestone competition finalist in 2005. He worked for ITV-F1 after graduating from university and has been ESPNF1's deputy editor since 2010