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McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was stripped of the pole position for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix for a fuel irregularity, moving Williams’s Pastor Maldonado to the front of the grid.
Hamilton claimed McLaren’s 150th Formula One pole by beating Maldonado by 0.6 seconds in today’s qualifying in Barcelona. After his final run, Hamilton was told by his team to stop on the track as there wasn’t enough fuel to allow the car to return to the pits under its own power and provide the required one-liter sample for post-qualifying testing, auto racing’s ruling body Federation Internationale de l’Automobile said on its website.
The McLaren team blamed the car’s need to stop on conditions that were out of its control, so-called force majeure. After a lengthy discussion with stewards, Hamilton was assessed the penalty.
“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,” the FIA said. “As the amount of fuel put into the car is under the complete control of the competitor, the stewards cannot accept this as a case of force majeure.”
Formula One rules require a car to return to the pits after qualifying and to have a liter of fuel remaining for a sample to be taken. Agence France Presse quoted McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh as saying there were 1.3 liters left in the car’s tank.
The penalty drops Hamilton to last in the 24-driver grid. It would have been the third pole position of the season, and 22nd of his career, for the 2008 world champion.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso moves up to the first row next to Maldonado in front of Lotus teammates Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen. Sauber’s Sergio Perez, Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg, two- time defending world champion and current series leader Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, Mercedes’s Michael Schumacher, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi and Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button round out the top 10 starters.
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