Vettel sent to back of grid for qualifying infringement

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel has been sent to the back of the grid for stopping on the track after qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The FIA stewards were unable to extract a sufficient quantity of fuel from Vettel’s car for testing after he stopped.

“The stewards received a report from the race director that car one failed to return to the pits under its own power as required under Article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations,” they said in a statement.

“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 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.”

Christian Horner said: “During the slow-down lap following the final run of Q3, Renault instructed to immediately stop Sebastian’s car on the circuit due to an issue with the fuel system.

“After speaking with the stewards, who accepted the situation of force majeure for technical reasons for the car to be stopped, unfortunately, for reasons yet to be fully understood, 850ml of the required one litre was pumped out of the car following post race checks.

“As a result, the FIA has excluded Sebastian from qualifying and we will withdraw the car from parc ferme in order to investigate further. Therefore Sebastian will start from the pit lane for tomorrow’s race. We will need to make the most of Mark’s strong front-row grid position and Sebastian will have a busy evening ahead of him.”

Vettel added: “One of the best ski jumpers of all times once said ‘Every chance is an opportunity and as far as we are concerned there are still plenty of chances tomorrow’.”

The stewards also decided against penalising Sergio Perez for impeding Bruno Senna during Q1. The Sauber driver received a reprimand for the incident, following which both drivers progressed to Q2.

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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234 comments on “Vettel sent to back of grid for qualifying infringement”

  1. This was so exciting xD !

    And now both tomorrow’s race and the championship get interesting again ! :D such a good news (for everyone but Vettel supporters).

    1. If the rules say that, remember when it happened to Lewis, this season, back in…GP. And I also think that some race winners didn’t brought the car to parc ferme… That should also exclude their win or any other point taking position… It’s only logical – if it’s done in Qualy, after the Race, the cars are also checked by the FIA.
      I really hope we have a great end of this season, and since Hamilton can’t be champion, please let it NOT be Alonso… although the other choice isn’t very attractive… The less of both evils…

      1. I’m fairly sure that IS how it it. But usually they have a reason that comes under exceptional circumstances.

      2. Talking about ‘parc ferme’….now that vettel has to start from the pits, is he still allowed to change gearbox/engine, with a penalty which of course will be of no significance….but the question is ‘can he?’

  2. What a shock…

    1. Have to reckon that’s consistant and will probably makes the WDC more entertaining until the end of the season.

      But still find this measure out of proportion. Every other lap he did, he was able to rejoin the pit lane so why not just discarding the last attempt, and in the worst case the Q3 but I guess we would never understand the guy writing F1 rules

      1. The thing is, he was able to rejoin the pitlane, but he didn’t. And by not doing it, he couldn’t save the amount of fuel needed to the analisys. It’s not only the case of running a lap with very low fuel, they(FIA) have to ensure all laps were run with a legal fuel.

    2. Justice was served today. Fortunatelly RBR are not gonna sleaze their way out of this one! :)
      Forza Ferrari!!! <3

  3. I guess the decision was a no-brainer.

    1. I Love the Pope
      3rd November 2012, 21:30

      It will be even better when Vettel wins his third title and passes Alonso on the all-time list.

  4. That’s a huge bonus for Alonso after a poor qualifying slot. I’m just hoping Vettel can make up some places and get into the points.

    1. If I’m taking any positive from this it is that Vettel now may be able to prove to everyone he can race.

      1. He already did that at Spa. But this track isnt well renowned for all the amazing overtaking places on it an red bull are slow in a straight line. Look at Spa where Vettel didn’t overtake in the DRS zone at all.

        1. You mean the race where Crashjean took out half the top 10? Where Vettel fell back to P12 by the end of the first lap despite the carnage? Where he reached to P6, got stuck and just one stopped up to P2 when everyone else two stopped? Where even Massa from P14 managed P5 and both Toro Rosso scored points? Yeah… phenomenal racer your boy Vettel.

          1. Haha, brilliant!!

        2. @Theo1 – I think it was a great race, considering he made up 10 places in a car which wasn’t much better than 10th on the grid in terms of pace that weekend. @brny666 I know, I’m hoping so to well and truly silence people such as Theo1!

          1. Spa was a great drive from Vettel at least from my point of view. He will do similar if circumstances reoccur tomorrow.

          2. Look back. He blew qualifying. Even Webber went P7 before getting a gearbox penalty.

          3. well he’s got the equipment to do so at his disposal. Personally i hope he gets blocked by Karthikeyan quite badly and then calls him a cucumber after the race xD

      2. @Vettel1, you forgot to mention he should be safe at the start, as long as he doesn’t get a puncture picking his way through the wreckage.

    2. @vettel1 I think the worst bit is that he used all his tyres to get where he was. So it’s a double-kick in the nuts.

      Hamilton got up to 8th in Barcelona. I can’t see Vettel getting much further up the road tomorrow. It’s Alonso’s one and only chance !

      So exciting !

      1. Red Bull has a larger performance advantage over the rest of the field than Hamilton did back in Spain I reckon.

        1. @matt90 not so much when they are following another car, though.

        2. @matt90 unless they set the car for “overtaking” or whatever. God knows what’s going on in that garage now they took the car from parc-ferme.

          1. 9th engine + new gearbox + full race setup. If I was Horner I would have ordered just that. No sleep for RBR mechanics only “wings” XD

          2. @crr917 or maybe fill the back of the car with banana peels…

          3. @fer-no65 to make proper use of the “extra tanks”? Seems legit but only as secondary option XD

      2. mate you cant underestimate the unpredictability of pastor so up in the grid if there a crash at the top of the grid by any of the first lap nutcase,i can bet vettel can then finish up much higher then we would have thought.Hope narain has not taken the “cucumber” comment seriously coz he starting next to vettel

        1. @smokinjoe , @hohum Vettel is starting from the pit lane . Whether that will mean he avoids contact/punctures remains to be seen (I personally hope he doesn’t since this is a great opportunity to prove he can race from the back and silence the critics).

          1. The fact that Vettel is starting from the pit lane is stated in this article.

    3. @vettel1 With almost certain 1 stop strategy and lowest top speed of Red Bull, it would be the toughest weekend for him.

      1. @eggry – I was replying to your comment about Red Bull’s chances in the race! Yes it will be difficult but the car has pace (as his time suggests) so hopefully he will be able to get past the back-markers and then maybe jump the midfielders in the pits by running long on the harder compound or something. I’d say 8th is the absolute best Vettel can hope for.

      2. I believe that his team can change wing angles and possibly gear ratios, but I’m not sure of the latter

        1. @xjr15jaaag They can change since they broke parc ferme. They said it’s for investigation but setup change is also possible then. I’m not sure wing angle and gear ratios would give them several kph of top speed. They would lose downforce and acceleration due to change and it means Vettel would get slow in lap time. also He should start from pit lane now which is another time penalty.

    4. That’s a huge bonus for Alonso after a poor qualifying slot

      No one told Red Bull to “CHEAT” (as i said before this team is expert in cheating the last case is the fluid variation) but unlike many times this time they got caught ,that’s not “huge bonus” that’s the stewards doing their job (the rule is very clear remember Hamilton in Spain) not favoring Fernando after poor qualifying (what is the relationship between the 2 facts)
      you’re always trying to attack Fernando & Ferrari at every occasion please take a break
      i suspect that you are HELMUT MARKO !!!!!!!!!!!!! lol (with all my respects)

      1. @tifoso1989 – How is this cheating? There was almost no benefit to be gained but a huge penalty to be had. I’m not attacking Alonso at all, 7th isn’t a great qualifying if you’re a championship contender. I’m only stating fact. If Ferrari are slow, I’ll state that Ferrari are slow. If they are fast, then I’ll state that they are fast.

        His only chance now is to start on the mediums and get past the slower cars quickly so he can hopefully get the jump on some of the midfielders. He’s going to have to drive absolutely flat out for the entire race if he’s to salvage someone.

          1. Oops what is this?

      2. CHEAT

        this time they got caught

        that’s the stewards doing their job

        @tifoso1989 just because they have the fastest car doesn’t mean they are cheating. Why is this SOOOO hard to understand?

        1. what you call that so a “nice break of the rule”!!!!!!
          this rule was clarified after Canada 2010 hamilton took the same penalty in Spain what do we expect then !!!!!

          1. @tifoso1989 – again, how is this cheating? Cheats only cheat for their own benefit, and this was clearly of no benefit to Red Bull. @fer-no65 has said what I have said many, many times – clever thinking is not cheating.

            I don’t even know why you have brought up the subject of cheating as I’m sure Red Bull didn’t intentionally put not enough fuel in the car. And you complain about me attacking Ferrari?

          2. @tifoso1989 what are you on about? I expected nothing, it’s a mistake, not a CHEAT !

            A cheat would be like they didn’t have the 1 litre and still, somehow, they manage to get away with it. But they didn’t. It’s a mistake, and they are paying for it.

            Seriously, what are you on about?

          3. Well, if they were not TRYING to cheat, then they don’t know their own car and can’t calculate how much fuel it needs. I don’t know what’s worst.

          4. @flig you know ALL the teams try to use the least fuel possible, so the car is faster.

            They miscalculated it, or they had some problem. That’s quite far from CHEATING. Jeez…

          5. That’s what I said. Even HRT can do the math.

          6. Apparantly, it was a fuel delivery system failure, and for some reason, the fuel has to be removed without removing any body panels, which RBR couldn’t do, hence the fuel delivery error, and they claim that there was sufficient fuel in the tank.
            It is in effect, a flawed rule should what I’ve just written turn out to be correct.

  5. This is great news ! Not for Vettel fans obviously but for the championship as it was starting to look like Vettel was going to walk it. Alonso must be very happy.

  6. Wow a consistent decision for once!

  7. Consistency was needed. Penalize HAM, needed to Penalize VET. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    1. I dont think the level of punishment was ever the issue. The issue was investigating WHY he stopped.

  8. Just don´t understand why it took almost 6 hours to deliberate something like there was only 0.850 l of fuel.
    Where they investigating something else?
    In any case, good for the race and probably for the championship.

    1. I think it’s just the fact that with Vettel stopping out on track the FIA had to test 23 cars before his in parc ferme. Something Ted Kravtiz mentioned in a video I watched on the Sky Sports website.

      1. That occurred to me as well @deanmachine, can’t imagine why it would take as long otherwise.

        1. @bascb Yeah, well they accepted Red Bull’s excuse but probably waited for the Parc Ferme results to see if the car was legal in general. And if Seb was first back in I’m sure we would’ve heard about it sooner.

      2. So why did it happen so much more quickly with McLaren in Spain? That answer came back very quickly despite the car being the last back to parc ferme.

        McLaren argued that not putting enough fuel was force majure (which it isn’t) but this time Red Bull argued (or tried to blag) it was a problem with the fuel system.

        Of course it was a problem with fuel system, they didn’t put enough in petrol into it.

        Interestingly not nearly as many people accusing Red Bull & Vettel personally of cheating as there was when it happened to Hamilton, despite Red Bull seeming to be disingenuois about the reason for the stop compared to McLaren.

        We’ll see how Vetel gets on tomorrow getting through the field. Maybe with luck we won’t have to listen the Austrian national anthem again.

        1. we might if Webber wins… but I doubt it since Lewis is looking mighty.

    2. @pnunocosta

      Just don´t understand why it took almost 6 hours to deliberate something like there was only 0.850 l of fuel.
      Where they investigating something else?

      According to Autosport, Red Bull were called to the stewards straight away, and they initialy accepted the team’s explantion of force majeure – namely, that circumstances beyond their control (though Autosport does not detail what these circumstances were) led to the car stopping on the circuit. However, the stewards once again summoned the team after the cars were inspected and Vettel was found to be short on fuel. The system works in such a way that they test every car before calling upon any and every team they find to be in violation of the regulations, rather than testing one car and conferring with the stewards, then testing the next car and conferring with the stewards and so on and so forth.

  9. The most boring circuits are having the best races this year it seems. Tomorrow is going to be epic.

    1. Seems to be at the expense of Vettel, too…

      Alternator failure at Valencia :P

      1. turbotoaster (@)
        3rd November 2012, 23:32

        And who’s complaining :P

        Alonso 2012

  10. Absolutely fantastic news for the championship, tomorrow’s Grand Prix should be excellent fun to watch!

    1. Whoooaaa slow down. Its made the possible result more exciting, not the race. Its still being held in Abu Dhabi remember!

      1. LOL .. exactly. If a bad tyre choice can make a track like India dull, I can imagine Abu Dhabi and already fall asleep. The only thing for tomorrow is how Fernando advances and if he can land a podium again while Vettel is out of points.

  11. Sankalp Sharma
    3rd November 2012, 18:49

    Woohoo!! Let’s go Alonso!!

  12. Wow, what a twist

    1. turbotoaster (@)
      3rd November 2012, 23:51

      M Night Shyamalan wrote this script!

  13. Huge mistake by Red Bull. Nice to see the stewards be consistent, but the ruling in both cases was stupidly harsh. Disqualify the last lap or Q3 entirely, but having the pilot start last is ridiculous.

    1. I agree. They should disqualify for the session they are in not the entire qualy. However at least the punishment is consistent for once.

      1. “The session they are in” *is* the entirety of qualifying. The rules do not distinguish between Q1, Q2, and Q3. And if they did, you’d have to have long enough of a delay between all of the sessions for scruitineering, which I cannot imagine television companies being particularly enamored of.

        1. Don’t be ridiculous. The scrutineering could still be done at the end of qualy. Nothing would need to change in that regard. I am aware that qualy is all regarded as one event but each session is clearly regarded as separate parts as there are already separate rules for Q3 as there are for Q1 and Q2. So why not make this rule apply to each session individually?

          1. Because the “rule” in question is that Vettel’s RB8 failed scrutineering, and as such, none of his times for that session count. Scrutineering (which includes checking the legality of the fuel each car is running) happens at the end of each session; qualifying is such a session.

    2. I agree, I made this point in Spain. It’s a mistake from the team and not the driver. If they knew he was low on fuel (which they should have) they shouldn’t have sent him out to do a flying lap. I’d rather he be tenth than last.

    3. @olivier42 think it the other way. Imagine the Red Bull is using a weird fuel that gets more power from the engine.

      FIA needs 1 litre of fuel to do all the tests and check if its legal. Vettel ends Q3, and stops the car, so they can’t supply the 1 litre of fuel.

      If they penalize him and set him in 10th place, then it’s also unfair to the others, as he surely competed the whole qualifying with that illegal fuel.

      The best way to do it would be taking 1 litre of fuel after Q1, Q2 and Q3 from all the cars. So if something’s wrong, they can delete the times of that last session the competed in. But that’d be impractical…

      I also think it’s harsh, but if you compare them to other penalties. This is, apparently, the only way to do it. After all, it’s Red Bull’s mistake. Just put some more fuel on the car, and you won’t have this problem.

    4. How can they be absolutely sure he wasn’t under fueled on previous Q , good rule you try to cheat you are out, what happens when they get the best time on first run barely make it to pits change tires and refuel and then pretend couldn’t make better time ……

      1. Seriously you think Red Bull had the intention of cheating? That is ridiculous if you genuinely believe they would do that, when it is a clearly defined rule, intentionally. The penalty is immense as I’m sure Vettel knows all to well.

      2. davidnotcoulthard
        4th November 2012, 11:46

        I think the 3 qualies should be seperate sessions!

  14. Maldonado moves up to P3! Makes it interesting

    1. Crashonado right? I predict him taking out one or two cars in the first few turns.

      1. The last time Pastor was at the sharp end of the grid and the favorite was sent to the back of the grid due to a fuel infringement, Crashonado came of age. Of course he was back to form in the first lap of the next GP.

        1. davidnotcoulthard
          4th November 2012, 11:48

          No, the last time he was there he suffered a brake problem in the race.

    2. Bad start from webber, and pendient issues MAl with Ham, reckon RAI got finally a chance to win from lap 1 !

  15. It’s strange, though. I would have never expected Red Bull to do such a silly mistake, especially after what happened in Spain.
    I’m quite disappointed by them, especially because this mistake might prove very costly for Vettel.

  16. Get in! Quali was already interesting enough, then this :D

    As a (relatively) neutral observer, it might have been interesting to see what Vettel would do from 3rd, but this is definitely good news for the championship. And maybe a chance for Vettel to show he can overtake (within track limitations I suppose). Definitely makes tomorrow’s race worth tuning in for!

    PS am I the only one having trouble posting?

    1. @gwan I had load-in issues. I guess @keithcollantine could or actually did measure one of the highest number of visitors this afternoon in 2012. So I guess the site just slowed down due to traffic.

  17. Of course a human mistake, but I do wonder: why didn’t Red Bull think of this earlier? Vettel stopped at 80% of the circuit’s length, so why not immediately when he crossed the line? (by then they knew they were in trouble, right?)

    As a sidenote: Vettel now has the ultimate chance to prove that he’s a worthy champion, simply to prove the anti-Vettels of this world (Hamilton included) wrong.

    1. Unless they’ll say he only got back in the points because of his car… Oh well, at least he can (hopefully) show he can overtake!

    2. @andae23 Even by then it was too late, had he stopped just after the line with a full 1l sample the stewards would still have seen that, like Hamilton in Spain, that he was underfueled and put him to the back of the grid.

      Surely Red Bull must have had a sensor issue and not realised the fuel shortage until too late (though that doesn’t explain how they managed to under-fuel in the first place). Given the penalty Hamilton had in Spain they would have realised that it was better to abort the fast lap and come back to the pits then to at least start in the top 10 if they had known about the fuel shortage on the out-lap or early on the flying lap.

      In the case of Hamilton in Spain I guess they realised their mistake earlier but thought it best to just run with it and keep their fingers crossed. Red Bull would have known better.

      1. @jerseyf1 If they could have supplied the fuel sample, he wouldn’t have had the penalty for underfuelling the car. In that case, I don’t know if he would have got the same penalty, or a nicer penalty, but I suspect he would not have been sent to the back of the grid.

        1. @andae23 I disagree. If they had supplied the fuel sample then the the wording of the stewards would have been different, but the outcome the same.

          Looking back at Spain the situation was similar except Hamilton did manage to stop in time to have enough fuel for the sample. At that time the stewards said “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.” He was sent to the back of the grid for this infraction.

          The only difference here is that Vettel didn’t manage to stop in time, but the Hamilton ruling indicates that stopping earlier wouldn’t have saved his bacon.

          1. @jerseyf1 my bad, you’re absolutely right. In Spain, Hamilton did have the 1 litre of fuel, but him stoppig on track was not considered a force majeure by the FIA. Therefore he was sent to the back of the grid.


            So indeed, if Vettel would have stopped earlier, he still got that grid penalty.

            Just a thought: if Vettel would have crashed into a barrier, he would not have been able to return to the pits. This can be seen as a force majeure, so he wouldn’t have been sent to the back of the grid. So… does this mean that he should have crashed into a barrier??

          2. @andae23

            So indeed, if Vettel would have stopped earlier, he still got that grid penalty.

            I don’t follow your logic here. Why would Vettel having 150ml more fuel in the car mean the stewards would not accept he stopped due to force majeure?

          3. @keithcollantine In that case, it would have been identical to Hamilton’s incident in Spain (I think… could be wrong though). So, if the FIA is unbiased, Vettel would have got the same penalty as Hamilton.

          4. @andae23 In Spain, the FIA did not accept McLaren’s explanation that Hamilton was stopped due to fore majeure.

            Here, the FIA have accepted Red Bull’s explanation that Vettel was stopped due to force majeure.

            Vettel has been excluded due to insufficient fuel. So if he had sufficient fuel, it stands to reason he wouldn’t have been excluded, as the stewards had already accepted he stopped due to force majeure.

          5. @keithcollantine Ok, I missed that then.
            But it now seems like inconsistency then: why did they accept Red Bull’s explanation for force majeure, but not McLaren’s? Both cases involved underfuelled cars, that had to stop on track for the fuel sample regulation.

          6. @andae23

            But it now seems like inconsistency then: why did they accept Red Bull’s explanation for force majeure, but not McLaren’s?

            Presumably the explanations were different.

            McLaren said they underfuelled the car. It seems Red Bull are saying they had enough fuel in the car, but didn’t realise they couldn’t get it all out while still conforming to the rules.

          7. @keithcollantine not sure if I fully understand this, but still thanks for the clarification!

          8. I had assumed that the force majeure related to something separate to the underfueling. The article @keithcollantine links to also suggests that stopping out on track wasn’t actually due to insufficient fuel since Red Bull claim they think that there was enough fuel but that the FIA did not obtain their sample for some other reason.

            It’s all a bit strange, will be interesting to see if Red Bull give out any more explanation once they’ve looked at the car.

          9. This is getting more complicated by the minute…

          10. @keithcollantine : So Renault had an epiphany, and realised 80% into the last lap of the 18th qualifying session of the year that they needed to put more fuel in the tank, which apparently they had been doing by accident it since the beginning of the year ?

          11. Hm, that arcticle on the one hand makes it clearer but still leaves some questions unanswered.

            Because if there was only 850 ml that could be extracted, how does that mean they are able to comply? Or is it a case of the rest being in the fuel line towards the engine, some compartments around the engine etc?.

            As far as I understand, if the car did not have enough fuel to finish the lap + 1 litre to hand over for testing it would be contravening the rules. But if it was somewhere else in the car that brings me back memories of the clever solution BAR had (as did Ferrari) and was punished for in 2004.

            Maybe that also makes the wording of the verdict about information received more logical, remember the rumors about RBR using an oil ballast tank? Maybe its fuel ballast too?

    3. Or as Mclaren is a “normal practice”, they do that a lot in first run then refuel properly with last tire change and count on track rubbering for last run, actually how many times have first run been enough ? Well not necessarily so but makes you wonder, the punishment is fair, try to cheat you are out.

    4. Are you serious? He did do so plenty of times this season.

      It’s time for Alonso to show hes not going to choke, again.

  18. As an Alonso fan I can’t say I’m upset but wow, what a colossal cock up by Red Bull they could cost Vettel the championship.

    At least tomorrow we can finally prove or disprove the myth that Vettel cannot race from the back of the grid.

    1. I’m with you on it.
      Tomorrow’s race is going to be good. It will be THE battle between Alonso, starting higher but in slightly underperforming car, and Vettel, having to overtake a lot or trying strategy tricks. I can see Hamilton crushing everyone to 1st, but it won’t matter. For most it will be Vettel vs Alonso, and many other good drivers in the mix.

      I personally want to thank Red Bull for this screw up, they just made the race so much more exciting.

      Can’t wait

  19. What an unbelievably stupid risk to take by Red Bull. They knew Alonso was off the pace.

    I think it will take more than this to turn an Abu Dhabi Grand Prix into the race of the century, but it’ll add a bit of interest. I’m expecting he’ll get stuck in the midfield somewhere, unable to pass anyone. Maybe bag a few points and hold onto his championship lead.

    1. @bullfrog If this was a risk taken intentionally then it was, as you say, unbelievably stupid. For that reason I doubt very much that this was an intentional risk designed to maximise qualifying, there must have been some underlying problem or cock-up.

  20. Could someone explain what this means: “The stewards accepted the explanation and considered the incident as being a case of force majeure.”
    So, if there had been enough fuel left for the sample, there wouldn’t have been a penalty?

    1. @kaiie I was thinking of that too. What might have happened, in my opinion, is that RB found out were short on fuel. So decided to make it looked like some other problem, hence the call from Renault to stop. They presented the telemetry data and the stewards bought it. Only after that the stewards found that Vettel’s car was short on fuel. A bit of speculation here, but it looks like a comfortable coincidence for RB to have a force major and being short on fuel as well, trying to cover the shortage of fuel by that other technical problem.

      1. Hmm, interesting theory.

      2. my thoughts exactly. Don’t understand why people keep talking about a “mistake” really. To me it seems obvious they were walking the fine line to put Vettel on front line but the play didn’t work. If they were cheating (as the officials seems to believe…) the it was shameful, a real disgrace for F1.

    2. NO.
      The first question is why you stop? You should provide a reason why you stop…this reason should be verified by the FIA and accepted as a reason to cause a force majeure to stop in track (imagine that everyone stop in track in the end of quali with any reason)…
      Second question this reason my end up in a penallty? in this case yes.

    3. @kaiie

      So, if there had been enough fuel left for the sample, there wouldn’t have been a penalty?

      That’s what I reckon.

      1. I disagree with this Keith. Surely if they had exactly 1l of fuel and stopped under force majeur then fia would project fuel required to return to the pits and given that would know he’d still have less than 1l left by time they get back to the pits.

        Stopping under force majeur (unless its due to a fuel leak?!?) shouldn’t make the fuel level in the car irrelevant – that would be stupid.

        1. Or if the Force Majeure was a developing error in the engine causing it to self destruct maybe before the end of the lap. What if this developing error also caused the engine to spend too much fuel – what if RBR actually fuelled it correctly before the final stint, but the engine error caused it to use more than normal? If FIA acknowledged it was a Force Majeure, then evidence must be present which supports that it actually is a technical problem. If this is true then this technical problem could cause – among other things – that the engine uses more fuel. This is not uncommon on our normal road cars also.

      2. @keithcollantine, It is possible that a fuel injector jammed open, I have had this problem a couple of times with Lucas fuel injection, the result is you use 2-3 times as much fuel and you risk total (unintended pun) engine destruction from hydraulic lock as well as oil dilution. Such as situation could explain why it took 6 hrs to reach a verdict, also Bernie might love Vettel but he loves a last race title fight even more, of course the stewards would not be swayed by anyone,right?

    4. Or it might just be the stewarts taking the **** as an answer to the engine mapping story from Germany, where they didn’t accept RBR’s justification, but had to accept they were conforming to the letter of the rule. This time, they officially accept the explaination, but apply the rule to the letter…

  21. The rules are clear, so no point if saying if it was the correct decision. What I find absurd is the rule/penalty itself. It is a team, not a driver, error so the team should be the one penalised. How? fine them or take away the points from the race for the constructors championship. FIA should really rethink the penalty for this rule.

    1. The penalty is harsh and probably could do with looking at, but it’s a team sport & the driver’s part of that team. If anything else goes wrong – mechanical failure, pitstop error, driver mistake etc. – driver & team suffer together and I don’t think penalties should be any different.

      1. Well written @gwan, its a team sport, without the great car provided by the team Vettel would hardly be winning as much! And its the same penalty most of us already found overly harsh in Barcelone when Hamilton got it.

        Personally I find starting in 10th (for making it through to q3, i.e. taking away their time set in the given part of qualifying) would be enough of a penalty in such . Even though this time it comes quite handy to give the WDC fight a bit of new energy :-)

        1. Thanks @bascb, yes I think starting in 10th would be fair. But yes, looking forward to the race a lot more it must be said!

          Plus, can you imagine if your favourite driver’s main title rival got on pole by a couple of hundredths, was found to be low on fuel… and the team got a FINE??

          1. can you imagine if your favourite driver’s main title rival got on pole by a couple of hundredths, was found to be low on fuel… and the team got a FINE??

            I bet most would be calling for a harsher penalty then @gwan!
            I bet top teams would love to pay such a fine if it helped them to pole, after all how much can FIA throw at the likes of Ferrari or RBR before it starts being something that deters them?

    2. Absolutely agree with @gwan a team includes the driver, they’re not separate entities. If the team underfuels the car, the driver gains an advantage from it and thus the driver should also be penalised for it.

  22. FIA giving ferrari a helping hand once again!

    1. They have indeed done this in the past. However this was pretty consistent decision with Hamilton’s punishment so what else were the fiat supposed to do?

      1. Fiat was supposed to be fia. .. not a dig at Ferrari

    2. Here we go…

    3. i didnt know FIA fueled vettels car?

  23. I’m a disappointed on Red Bull for making such a blunder, but the ruling was only fair (in a sense of consistency, because both Vettel’s and Hamilton’s penalties were too harsh in my opinion). Lewis made it into the points in Barcelona, and I’m confident Sebastian will too tomorrow.

    1. Difference is, of course, that Hamilton is more of a racer and had a car capable of racing wheel-to-wheel. Vettel’s Red Bull is designed to win from the front. If he’s not at the front, he struggles.

      1. @pielighter I think Vettel already demonstrated he can race, as he did in Spa, and who knows what Red Bull will do with that car now that it’s out of the parc-ferme.

        But greatest obstacle, I think, will be the track.

        1. @guilherme That was with far superior downforce though – you notice he never made passes in the FFW zone?
          At Abu Dhabi the ONLY place to overtake is in the FFW zones, unless you’re Lewis Hamilton and you overtake anywhere and everywhere.

      2. It depends a bit on what exactly was the matter with Vettel’s car in the first place off course. But I think that RBR starting from the pitlane at least gives them the opportunity to rebuild the car into as much of an overtaking monster as Newey can come up with given the parts at hand or quickly flown in from the UK!

  24. Haha!! I really doubt Vettel will achieve much tomorrow considering his dreadful top speed! The best he can do, is to get stuck behind Massa.

    1. I’m afraid he would struggle to pass Sauber and Mercedes or Force India.

      1. He is not Alonso, he will be fine.

        1. or They’re not Petrov? :D

  25. Since nobody else has said it, I’ll be the first. Mark Webber or Lewis Hamilton for 2012 World Champion! There’s still a mathematical chance, right?

    1. Yes, I posted about their chances in the forum the other day. Basically, they each need to win the race and hope that Vettel and Alonso don’t score more than a certain number of points. For example, if tomorrow’s podium is Hamilton-Webber-Räikkönen, with Vettel not scoring, Hamilton will still (in theory) be in the hunt, while Webber will not be.

  26. Well, there is the shuffle in the title fight some were requesting. Can’t wait to watch tomorrow. Can’t wait to fly to Texas soon!!

  27. Insufficient fuel. What took so long?

    1. @atticus-2 Fair question. Hard to see why this should’ve taken as long as it did.

      1. I read somewhere that they had to stop the scrutineering because Charlie had a ‘dinner date’.

  28. Well, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions just yet but, in contrast to Korea and India, Abu Dhabi is shaping up into quite the interesting little GP.

    A stellar Hamilton, Maldonado up there, Vettel at the back, Alonso sort of in contention but struggling and in need to take as many points as possible off Vettel, both Lotuses in contention, Rosberg up there and all quite level in the midfield.

    That. Grid. Looks. Brilliant. I’m already hyped for tomorrow!

  29. Q: Sebastian, you stopped out on track at the end of qualifying. Why? Was it an engine problem or low fuel?
    Sebastian Vettel: Neither. We will have to find out what happened. I was told over the team radio to come back to the pits as fast as I could, which doesn’t suggest the issue was low fuel. You wouldn’t say something like that if there was a risk of being on the limit.

    1. During the conference, when Vettel was asked why he stopped, he started answering the hesitated and laughed, and immediately I knew it was a fuel issue. I was just waiting to see how the FIA would have handled it after the similar Hamilton issue at Barcelona.

    2. @glue, you would if you thought you could make it back, refuel and do another outlap before scrutineering

  30. The red bulls straight line speed will now be a concern for Vettel. Maldonado looks like he could have a strong race with his straight line spped.

    1. They plan to start from the pitlane and I’m sure they will change the setup of the car, optimise the car for using DRS and increased top speed.

      1. The thing is, there was a reason Vettel’s car was set for higher downforce. It worked better. With some adjustments he can probably get a boost when it comes to overtake, but his laptimes will be worse. It’s a hard call.

        1. Exactly. RBs strongest point is downforce and traction on slow parts of the circuit. Higher speed might take him quicker to midfield but from then it will be tough. Aiming for max 2 points. Praying for Maldonado doing his thing in curve 1

        2. One positive is, that the car is using a LOT of DRS, so if Vettel can use that today, it might help. And who knows, maybe RBR will be flying in part from the UK they have in stock to make the car a mean overtaking machine, I imagine Newey has been thinking about how to do that all afternoon!

  31. This is it!! seize the chance Vettel! Prove that u are worthy of a title…the track is not easy to overtake but with his fast car,if he does that should silence his critic! For Hulkenberg….he would be the one most affected by this shift in the grid positions as he now has to sacrifice his tire option flexibility !!

    1. @akshay No he doesn’t, he didn’t do a lap in Q3 so he can use whatever he likes.

      1. @george Then he is in the best position!!

        1. @akshay Yep, his car is slower than everyone in front though ;)

          1. @george I have to admit you made me laugh laugh:D

  32. What a fortuitous circumstance, just as Alonso looks out of the championship this happens…

  33. If Schumacher gets only 10 place grid penalty for 2010 Hungary mad act against Rubens, then this penalty for Vettlel is ridiculously harsh.

    1. Really????? They are not related by far. Sure the penalty is harsh but those are the rules.

    2. It’s harsh but it is consistent (for once).

  34. Does vettel still have to start on the tyres he set his quickest lap or is he free to use fresh tyres?

    1. No he is obligated to start with the same tyres without no change on the car.

    2. I don’t know for sure, but I guess that he doesn’t have to use the tyres of Q3. I mean, he can’t start behind his current position.

      That makes me think… Can he change the engine and the gearbox too?

      1. IMO he can change the engine, if its not the 9th, no penalty. But gearbox he’d penalised with 5Ps next race

  35. Why is fuel in F1 measured in liters by the way? I’d think kilos (like they do in WEC) would be a lot better for measurement, since mass isn’t affected by temperature. Does anyone here agree?

    1. @infinitygc the teams do work in kilos, I guess that the FIA uses litres as its purposes are different to the teams.

      1. okay, thanks for telling me!

        1. Mass may not be affected by temperature, but it does affect volume. One kg of water is a bigger volume than a kg of petrol because of the difference in molecular weights.

          1. Isn’t a kilo of Petrol actually bigger, because of its lower density?

  36. Alonso’s horror day turns into an opportunity of a lifetime!

    1. im a Ferrari fan…but the race is tomorrow Alonso had the pace to gain the race or at least to be second we will see

  37. At least it is not as painful as it was for HAM cos he placed his car on pole unlike VET.

  38. Whilst this is a bad for Vettel and good for Alonso, its important that people keep to reality here. Yes, it gives Alonso an advantage, but he still needs to finish the race and get good points. He is still 13 points behind Vettel, so he needs a great result (if not a win) to really make Vettel sweat. And theres still 2 races to go after this.

    1. Not clear RB circuits US (uncertain) and Brasil as Abu Dahbi and India are. FA had to survive this race to keep options, now he has a great opportunity. And he is an expert in taking the max out of everty little opportunity, specially this seasson

  39. I think it’s pretty harsh, afterall Mclaren and Hamilton had previous to the Spain incident (Canada 2010), but RedBull have never done it before.

    Nevertheless, it sets up an interesting prospect for the race tomorrow.

    1. For the first McLaren incident the rule was not the same. Also as McLaren had been given this penalty before then all other teams now know the consequences.

  40. Don’t think RedBull are this stupid to under fuel Vettel at this stage of the championship considering what happened in Barcelona. Must be FIA’s way of spicing up the championship just like 94(Britain), 97(Suzuka), 99(Malaysia), 2003(US) and 2008(Fuji)

    1. The FIA had no choice. The only thing the FIA could have done is regret why they gave Hamilton the same penalty in Barcelona.

  41. petebaldwin (@)
    3rd November 2012, 19:46

    I can’t wait for the GP tomorrow now! It’s going to be brilliant to see what Alonso can do because if it finished as it’s going to start, you’d have to say Vettel would still be the clear favourite for the title.

    If Alonso can move forward, it’ll get very interesting.

  42. This is a heckuva break for this Ferrari fan who is packing his bags in two weeks for Austin!
    Any predictions on how many places Vettel can make up?
    I guess he finishes P9.

    1. Somewhere around there I guess, I guessed p8 earlier, I wouldn’t put it past him to get higher though.

  43. I believe that this will give a good opportunity for Fernando to more or less equal Seb in the championship.

    Until and unless, Ferrari really doesn’t come up with an upgrade (a good one), it’s Seb’s title to loose. It’s just got delayed. Instead of Texas, it will be Sau Paulo.

    Yes, we still hope for reliability issues for RBR but it’s to a limit that Alonso can drag a noncompetitive car to championship glory.

    What a great weekend we have had at Abu Dhabi!

  44. Interestingly, does that mean RBR can make significant changes to the setup of the car? Especially allowing Seb more straight line speeds?

    1. I think that is exactly what they intend to do now.
      The advantage is that the tyres can take some punishement so he can really push the car unlike earlier in the season.

  45. Therefore Sebastian will start from the pit lane for tomorrow’s race…

    Didn’t Hamilton start in last place on the grid in Spain? Why does Vettel have to start from the pits, especially because the pit lane exit is so long in Abu Dhabi.

    1. So that they can make some setup changes to the car and also start on the primes.

      @Keith: Why did you deleted my Autosport link abt Seb starting from the pitlane?

    2. He doesn’t have to, but the car doesn’t work. They have to take the fuel cell to bits and out of parc ferme, hence a pit lane start (as far as I understand it).

      1. No, it’s a decision so they can make changes to the car. New gear ratios and less downforce for overtaking, they can even fit a brand new (9th) engine and gearbox at this point if they want.

      2. I guess they want time to do the repairs properly @john-h. Maybe even put in a 9th engine (as a penalty is a non-issue now) and probably try and rethink the setup to maximize his chances of overtaking in the race. I wouldn’t be surprised to see RBR breaking curfew this night/morning and even flying in a couple of bits from the UK to make it go better on the straights.

  46. I don’t understand why it took so long for this decision to be reached. If there wasn’t enough fuel in the tank, that should be pretty cut and dry. Why did it take six hours?

    1. William Brierty
      3rd November 2012, 20:20

      RBR were being illusive.

    2. There was enough fuel in the tank, but due to the problem only a small part of it could be extracted (according to Horner).

    3. The scrutinizing is done to all the cars in a row @repete86, I guess Vettels was last, from arriving only 10 minutes after the last session. So probably the last in line, and it takes a while do work through a field of 24 cars.

  47. Vettel not scoring and Hamilton winning will keep Hamilton in championship for next race..Lewis deserves it..

    1. Indeed I think if Lewis wins and Vettel DNF, he is still 50 points behind! As Mr. Button reminds us often enough, it’s still mathematically possible.

      1. Yeah, but I don’t expect that to happen. But it will mean Kimi still has an outsider shot and probably take the championship to the last round instead of sealing it in Austin.

  48. William Brierty
    3rd November 2012, 20:18

    This is the best news F1 has had for a while. It might not be 2002 again, one Alonso might just be able to conjure up the finest championship win of recent times. Everyone in F1 is happy about this, perhaps excluding Red Bull team members. OK, tomorrow’s race will be dull, Hamilton will run and hide, but it’s great for the championship and Alonso and Vettel should provide some entertainment in the race, with Vettel playing damage limitation and Alonso trying to make the moat of this GOLDEN opportunity.

  49. I can’t help but wonder if they did this to try and spice up the championship fight…

  50. How ironic that at this particular track, Vettel will probably find himslef tucked up behind a midfield car, unable to overtake, while Alonso is way up the field collecting points toward his championship. I love F1!

  51. Probably this was already brought up, but what I don’t understand is how they realised the fuel sensor error. The only way this ‘gate’ makes sense is if the team realised the problem right at Turn 18. Otherwise, they should have stopped him earlier.

    And then there is the Vettel interview in which he was told to get back to the pits as soon as possible, which is a rather strange order even if one suspects the sensors are not right.

    Excuse me, if I misunderstood something.

  52. After reading the steward’s decision that it was force majeur and Horner’s comments, this sounds more and more like a fuel leak (though wouldn’t the car have ignited then?) or something else along those technical lines, rather than human error as it was with McLaren in Barcelona.

    I’m a bit out of it this weekend to figure out the time difference, but what are the odds Red Bull has to break curfew in order to replace whatever failing part?

    1. Indeed. My guess is a fuel leak into another part of the car, presumably not somewhere too hot otherwise as you say there would have been flames.

    2. Possibly. Would that not have affected the cars performance in the previuos qualifying lap? Always could have happened during cool down lap…

  53. This is fair and should make an interesting race tomorrow

  54. This is good news for Alonso and Ferrari fans! But bad news for Vettel Fans. As proved from Alonso in 2010, this track is hard to overtake. So Vettel will just have to hope for other cars to have DNFs if he has a chance for the points.

    1. Well Red Bull are changing the gearing ratios so he will have a lot of top end on the long straight and there is one difference between 2010 and 2012, DRS

      1. and even KERS

      2. So SV wont have downforce and traction for the slow curves, RBs strong points

        1. It’s damage limitation. The Red Bull is a very fast car in clear air – but that’s no use if you start at the back and can’t overtake. I guess they will make some changes which make it slightly slower over the course of a clean lap, but better at overtaking (i.e. top speed).

  55. The 2 biggest team errors in F1 history (if SV does not win the title) take place in the same circuit, Abu Dahbi.
    Ferrari 2012, RedBull 2012
    Come on Fer!

    1. Ferrari 2010

      1. Ups, 2010

  56. I thought regulations state that gear ratio can not be changed post qualifying .
    Does this not stand even if a gear box change is undertaken.

  57. could they not somehow use kers an a constant slow speed to get them back and than have VERRY tight fule margins

  58. Did Vettel hit the wall during qualifying? Maybe the fuel thing is a bunch of creative bs so that they can quietly change the gear box.

    1. You can change a box and only take a 5 place drop.

  59. Not a Vettel fan, but I am calling BS………

  60. Can’t remember where I read it but the reason Red Bull couldn’t provide the 1 ltr was that it has to come out of the car without removing any body work. Horner was convinced there was enough in the car but the couldn’t get it without going into the fuel cell. The sample has to come out the same way the fuel goes in.

    1. It’s on autosport under “Red Bull says Vettel’s car had enough fuel”

    2. And it gets worse (maybe…) Rule 6.6.1 says “Competitors must provide a means of removing all fuel from the car” and here’s Horner saying there’s still some left and he doesn’t know how to get it out without Renault taking the fuel cell to pieces.

      So Horner is basically saying his car doesn’t comply with the technical regulations, ergo it’s illegal, ergo RBR shouldn’t be allowed to race? Oh well…

      1. For all we know, the reason why they cannot get it out was connected to the failure in the car that had him stop though. A fuel leak would do that, or a damaged pump, to name a few.

        1. Reminds me of bar in 2005. Thee was a secret tank in the car to increase apparent car weight. If rbr havea tank they claim cannot be accessed and drained or sampled in the normal way then their minimun weight compliance must be in question.

  61. So I guess E.J was wrong then…

  62. Well, the 1L minimum fuel requirement has claimed another victim. We wish things like this wouldn’t affect Championships, but rules are rules. And they will remain so until the FIA and the teams agree to change them.

    The intent of these fuelling rules, I believe, is to ensure there aren’t any games played with the fuel. The FIA doesn’t need 1L to do their analysis, but that’s a nice round number. Should it be 100ml, maybe or maybe not. We obviously don’t want cars regularly running out of fuel before they reach the pitlane after qualifying or finishing a race. Is a better solution to have a smaller minimum fuel requirement? I’m not sure that necessarily changes anything. Somebody will eventually run afoul of a newer limit.

    The minimum car weight rules will catch out anyone running light.

    But it should be noted (as it has in several places), that violations of the Technical Regulations require disqualification or exclusion. The Stewards can’t invent new “more appropriate for the circumstances penalties”. They don’t have the flexibility available the Sporting Regulations provide. If they were going to be really draconian, Hamilton and Vettel could both have been excluded from the race for these breaches.

    What I don’t understand is where Vettel’s fuel went. I find it hard to believe that RBR short fuelled Vettel. But maybe it was a screwup. Maybe something odd was happening that caused the engine to consume more fuel. And I don’t see how 1L of fuel can be in the car but unobtainable without removing bodywork. Why now all of a sudden is this a problem. Horner’s comments on this have been a bit confusing. And I’d like to know the details on what the mechanical failure was that the FIA accepted as Force Majeure.

    RBR will no doubt make the most of this setback. I believe they can use a 9th engine without incurring a meaningful penalty, as well as deploy a fresh gearbox.

    In any event, this provides us with a great new drama for what is usually a processional race. I’m happy about that. I’d love to see Vettel and Alonso battling to the final corner of the last lap at Interlagos.

  63. If the car is pulled from parc ferme they can now work on the brakes and setup right? This might have been part of the tactics to work the car now rather than on the grid? Just asking.

  64. Keith, can Vettel change gear ratios for tomorrows race?

  65. although im no fan of red bull and less of a golden child fan but i have to say even though Red Bull took a punt and failed, I admire the way they could have settled for a 2nd-4th for vettel but pushed the envelope and tried to cut it fine. Yes it backfired and was in hindsight unnecessary but going for it is bold, and look what its potentially done for the championship xD

  66. Bit of a shocker really! It’s not often Red Bull make a mistake. I just hope they’ve ironed out the other bugs so he can race properly.

    1. It’s shocking that they under-fuelled him. But when he stopped most of us knew what the reason was, and the penalty that was forthcoming.
      What I find more shocking is how far Redbull is willing to go with their lies, just to avoid the penalty.

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