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F1 - Abu Dhabi: Sebastian Vettel demoted to back of grid

2012-11-03 22:24:41

Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel has been disqualified from qualifying at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and will start from the back of the field.

The title leader, who had qualified third, did not have enough fuel in his car for a fuel 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.

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.

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.

"Sebastian will demonstrate why he's a great racer. He's come from the back and produced great races before. No doubt he will 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."

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.

"The competitor is however allowed to start the race from the back of the grid."


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