Abu Dhabi: Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel to start race from the pit lane

 

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2012, day three

  • Sunday, 4 November: Race 13:00; BBC One (from 12:10 GMT), online and Radio 5 live (from 12:55); Race highlights 19:00 BBC Three.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel has been disqualified from qualifying at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and will start the race from the pit lane.

The championship leader, who qualified third, did not have enough fuel in his car for a sample to be taken.

Vettel stopped his car out on the track on his way back to the pits at the end of the session, as McLaren's Lewis Hamilton had done in Spain in May.

It promotes his title rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari to sixth on the grid.

Vettel heads into the race with a 13-point lead over the Spaniard after winning the last four races.

Inside F1 on Vettel penalty

The decision gives Alonso a golden opportunity to make up some of the ground he has lost in the championship following a major step forward in performance made by Red Bull since the Singapore Grand Prix at the end of September.

When Hamilton started at the back at the Spanish Grand Prix, after qualifying on pole by more than half a second, he made it back up to eighth by the end of the race.

Hamilton starts from pole position, ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber.

Williams's Pastor Maldonado will start third, ahead of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren's Jenson Button and Alonso.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: "It's frustrating, it's annoying, it's one of those things...

"It's an issue which was reported, it was an instruction from Renault who wanted to stop the engine immediately due to an issue within the fuel cell. We did that.

"The FIA accepted the technical issue, but unfortunately, as the regulations dictate, there has to be one litre of fuel for a sample to be taken and only 850ml has been extracted.

"Renault are convinced the rest of the fuel is in the tank. We've taken the car out of parc ferme to further investigate."

Analysis

"You must play it safe for how much petrol you have in the car and some teams don't. Sometimes I think people push it too much to the limit and you need to be more in control.

"The team has to come to the FIA and tell them why the car stopped on the grid. The FIA will listen and then they'll make a decision."

On Vettel's reaction he said: "He's remarkably calm. He has dealt with it. He said: 'Out of a negative comes a positive.' He'll be maximum attack tomorrow."

Vettel himself said: "One of the best ski jumpers of all time once said: 'Every chance is an opportunity.' And as far as we are concerned there are still plenty of chances tomorrow."

Horner added that Vettel would start from the pit lane rather than the back of the grid. The team wanted to investigate the causes of the fuel problem, he said, which breaks F1's parc ferme regulations that dictate teams cannot modify their cars between qualifying and race.

Starting from the pit lane also enables them to change such features as gear ratios and downforce settings, which Red Bull may want to do to make it easier for Vettel to overtake in the race.

The F1 rules require the car to return to the pits with at least one litre of fuel on board because running less fuel gives a performance advantage.

The rule - article 6.6.2 of the technical regulations - dictates that cars must make their way back to the pits under their own power but says that exceptions may be made in cases of force majeure.

A statement from governing body the FIA said: "The stewards heard from the driver and team representatives and studied telemetry evidence that showed the reason why the car was stopped.

"The stewards accepted the explanation and considered the incident as being a case of force majeure.

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

"The stewards determine that this is a breach of article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula 1 technical regulations and the competitor is accordingly excluded from the results of the qualifying session."