Vettel sent to back of Abu Dhabi grid

Vettel sent to back of Abu Dhabi grid

3 November 2012 – Following an investigation which spanned almost five hours, championship leader Sebastian Vettel has been sent to the back of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix grid. In a dramatic twist for the 2012 World Championship, this leaves Fernando Alonso in sixth position and with a golden opportunity to reduce the points margin.

Not dissimilar to the post-qualifying investigation that saw Lewis Hamilton demoted from pole position in Spain, the Vettel news quickly became the only hot topic in the Yas Marina paddock as an endless wait commenced shortly after the qualifying session. A decision was finally made public shortly before 11 o’clock at night.

As qualifying finished, in which Vettel finished third behind Hamilton and Mark Webber, the German parked his car underneath the Yas Hotel crossover on the exit of Turn 18. Fears of a penalty were quickly aroused when Team Principal Christian Horner confirmed that the issue was ‘fuel-related’. Under Article 6.6.2 of the Technical Regulations, the FIA states that all cars must be able to provide at least one litre of fuel for a sample.

Following a dinner break for FIA delegate Charlie Whiting, the waiting media were continuously given time estimates for when to expect news. Eventually, the stewards – including ex driver Derek Warwick, who ironically was also on the panel for the German Grand Prix, when Red Bull was almost thrown out of the race for diffuser-blowing activities – announced that ‘evidence showed the reason why the car was stopped’.

The statement continued:

‘A report was received from the Technical Delegate that showed during post-qualifying scrutineering an insufficient quantity of fuel for sampling purposes.’

Later on, Horner argued that there had been enough fuel in the car for a sample.

“The rules say that one litre has to be provided without the removal of bodywork,” he explained. “It is our belief that the fuel is in the cell (tank), according to what (engine supplier) Renault have told us, but you’re not allowed to dismantle the cell to give a sample. The car will now be worked on overnight, so it’s out of Parc Fermé conditions.”

By the time the season draws to a close in three weeks’ time, tonight’s events could have a massive bearing. Vettel heads into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a 13-point lead over Alonso and Red Bull has confirmed that their driver will start from the pit lane.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------How it happened:

6pm: Qualifying finishes with Vettel stopping on-track after Turn 18
8pm approx: Vettel exits stewards’ office, joined by Renault technicians and smiling
9pm approx: Decision delayed as Charlie Whiting and FIA staff are dining
10:02pm: Paddock feeling that news will be released in 15 minutes’ time
10:19pm: Press told to wait for another five minutes
10:28pm: Another five-minute wait predicted by media members
10:30pm: Horner exits stewards’ office for second time; says decision now coming
10:40pm: Stewards confirm that Vettel is disqualified from qualifying

Local Abu Dhabi time: GMT +4
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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