MAY 12, 2012
Hamilton's pole position under threat
McLaren is currently in discussion with Spanish GP race stewards over an issue that could threaten Lewis Hamilton's pole position, the 150th for the team.
Hamilton was told to stop the car due to a 'technical problem' immediately after completing his pole position lap. The rules now demand, however, that there must be sufficient fuel in the car for it to return to the pits under its own power and provide the necessary 1.0 litre fuel sample, unless there is reason of force majeure.
If the FIA believes that a deliberate attempt to gain a competitive advantage has been made, which was the case in Montreal in 2010 when Hamilton took pole and stopped on the slowdown lap, then further action may be taken.
On that occasion Hamilton was given a reprimand and a $10,000 fine but was allowed to keep his pole. It was subsequent to that that a directive regarding the sample requirement in future cases, was issued.
Whitmarsh confirmed that there was 1.3 litres of fuel left in the car, which does not appear to be sufficient to have returned Hamilton to the pits and provide the sample.
McLaren has refused to be specific about the precise nature its problem other than to say "it was a technical problem that happened in the garage." Whitmarsh refused to rule out human error, however.
Given Hamilton's 0.58s pole margin over Pastor Maldonado, it is evident that any transgression, if indeed one is ruled, would not have impacted the outcome, but it is still possible that Hamilton could be stripped of his best lap. If that was the case, he would start the race sixth.