MAY 12, 2012
Hamilton starts from the back, Maldonado on pole!
The FIA stewards have rejected McLaren's claim of force majeure over Lewis Hamilton being unable to drive back to the pits under his own steam and supply the required 1.0 litre fuel sample after taking pole position in Barcelona.
Hamilton has therefore been disqualified from the results of the qualifying session and will start the Spanish GP from the back of the grid with Pastor Maldonado taking pole.
The stewards decision read: "team representative Sam Michael (McLaren's sporting director) stated that the car stopped on the 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.
"As the amount of fuel put into the car is under the complete control of the competitor, the stewards cannot accept that this is a case of force majeure."
It seems that fuel was accidentally being removed from Hamilton's car instead of added, ahead of Q3, via a two-way switch, and when the error was realised, there was insufficient time to correct the problem, get enough fuel in and still allow Hamilton to get out onto the circuit in time to complete his final qualifying lap."
It is a bitter pill for Hamilton to swallow given the fact that his pole position margin of 0.58s over Maldonado's Williams was many times greater than any advantage that would have been provided by McLaren's error.