BARCELONA: Lewis Hamilton’s spectacular but often controversial career suffered a new twist Saturday when he was stripped of pole for the Spanish Grand Prix because his McLaren team failed to give him enough fuel.
As a result, Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Williams will start from pole position for the first time after being promoted from second on the grid while Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, will start from the back.
The 27-year-old Briton was excluded from the qualifying results because he did not return to the pits with his McLaren car after setting his fastest lap. Instead, he followed urgent orders transmitted by the team and stopped out on the track. He required assistance to return to the pits where a one litre fuel sample was to be taken.
A stewards meeting later decided that this was in breach of the regulations and excluded Hamilton, dismissing his team’s argument that this had happened under circumstances of ‘force majeure’.
“This is such a disappointment. Today’s qualifying session was one of the best I’ve ever driven — the whole car was just rolling so smoothly, it felt fantastic,” said Hamilton.
“On my slowing-down lap, my engineers told me to stop on the track. Later, to hear that I’d been excluded from qualifying, was extremely disappointing.”