Hamilton on pole while Vettel starts last

Sat Nov 3, 2012 4:02pm EDT
 
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By Alan Baldwin

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel will start Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand prix from the pit lane as punishment for a fuel irregularity that could blow the Formula One title battle wide open.

Stewards stripped the 25-year-old of third place on the grid after post-qualifying checks on Saturday showed there was an insufficient quantity of fuel in the car for sampling purposes.

The ruling lifted Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard who is 13 points adrift of Vettel with three races remaining, to sixth place for the floodlit day-to-night race at the Yas Marina circuit where overtaking has been tricky in the past.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton will start on pole position alongside Vettel's Australian team mate Mark Webber. Neither driver has any realistic hope of the title even if they remain mathematically in contention.

Vettel's grid position was questioned after his team and their Renault technicians ordered him to stop immediately on the track as he headed back to the pits after the chequered flag.

Red Bull were summoned to stewards to explain why the car had not been driven back to the pits under its own power, the same failing that sent Hamilton to the back of the grid at the Spanish Grand Prix after he had qualified fastest.

The decision was announced four hours and 40 minutes after qualifying had ended. The four stewards included Britain's former F1 driver Derek Warwick.

The stewards accepted telemetry evidence provided by the team that showed the car had stopped due to force majeure. However, the FIA technical delegate's report showed the fuel irregularity.   Continued...

 
McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates after taking pole position in the qualifying session of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on Yas Island November 3, 2012. Hamilton will start Sunday's Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix on pole position with Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber also on the front row. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel will start third for Red Bull while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the German's closest title rival who has a 13 point gap with three races remaining, will line up seventh. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem