Motorsports Mondial


Lewis Hamilton has been demoted from pole position to the back of the grid for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix for having too little fuel at the end of qualifying. It is the latest incident in a catalogue of pit‑lane gaffes for McLaren this season.

The decision means the Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado will start on pole, the first for Williams since Nico Hülkenberg in the rain of Brazil in 2010, with Fernando Alonso alongside for Ferrari. A McLaren spokesman said: “We accept the stewards did not agree with our interpretation of force majeure. Our aim is now to maximize the points we can score tomorrow.”

Hamilton had completed his triumphant lap and was midway round his slow-down lap when his McLaren team ordered him to stop because of a “technical problem”.

FIA rules state a car must return to the pits after qualifying and then have a litre of fuel remaining for a sample to be taken. Whitmarsh claimed 1.3 litres was ultimately extracted, but clearly the additional 0.3 litres – over and above the required one litre – would not have been enough to see Hamilton return to parc fermé. There was substantial doubt that Hamilton would have had that much fuel left after completing his slow-down lap. An F1 car will use about two litres of fuel every lap.

Hamilton’s team-mate Jenson Button also struggled, managing to secure only 11th – now upgraded to 10th – after failing to find the right setup to resolve understeer. McLaren’s performance here was merely the latest in a series of misfortunes to plague the team.