Spanish GP qualifying: what happened there?

Our apologies for not getting back to you sooner. Obviously we had wanted to wait for the jury to return first. And when they did and gave us the verdict we needed to have a little sit down, count to ten. Then we had to take a little walk outside to get some air. And when that didn’t work, we had a stiff drink.

But we’re still fit to throw one in the direction of the telly. Come on; total disqualification from the whole session? Why don’t they go the whole way and ban Lewis for the race, the season? A general ban on anything McLaren?

Let’s face it, if there is ever an opportunity to make Formula One’s ‘second most famous team’s’ life harder, the FIA always seems to take it. And, as ever, Wing Commander Whitmarsh takes it on the chin. Even plucky young pilot Hamilton is showing an unfamiliar phlegmatic side on the wires right now. He shouldn’t have to.

Pushed off the pole and made to start at the back, behind a car that didn’t even qualify inside the 107 per cent rule. We reckon that’s a pretty outrageous penalty. Those Who Know are all saying not having the requisite fuel for the FIA’s two-litre sample at best, might have gifted Lewis one-tenth of a second. The other four-tenths (please let it not be forgotten what an astonishing lap that was — half a second quicker than anyone) was the talent.

If the stewards had simply nixed the quick lap, then Lewis would start sixth. All seem agreed that would have been appropriate. So why the big hammer? Granted, McLaren’s ‘force majeure’ mitigation appeal was as dry as Lewis’ tank. “Someone didn’t put enough fuel in” is a statement of fact, not a justification for a breach of the Technical Regulations (and not for the first time — McLaren and Lewis pulled a similar stunt in 2010 in Canada). Maybe a simple ‘Ooops! Sorry!’ and big dopey grin would have been more appropriate. But maybe it was always a lost cause.

Completely unrelated to any of the above, Lewis’s penalty means local hero Fernando Alonso now starts on the front row, just behind the Williams of Pastor Maldonado. It’s hard to know what’s more impressive there, a largely un-rated driver getting what’s clearly a good car on to the front of the grid or something of a super-hero getting what’s still clearly an extremely difficult car up there alongside him.

‘Twas ever thus; here on the Sunday Afternoon Sofa (we have sat down now) we can recall the early reports from pre-season testing telling us just how composed Maldonado’s Williams looked and, conversely, how the Ferrari F2012 never looked balanced entering or navigating a corner and would struggle to get its power down after. Maldonado’s pace was no freaky flash-in-the-pan like Nico Hulkenberg’s 2010 pole in Brazil; with its new-for-2012 Renault engine, the FW34 is a properly fast car.

Spare a thought for the other two drivers piloting a Williams and a Ferrari this weekend, Felipe Massa has not looked close to Alonso since Friday morning. Any sense we might have had of him closing the gap on the boss evaporating as rapidly as his hopes to be in a Ferrari in 2013. Or June.

Bruno Senna meanwhile…. it’s impossible not to like Bruno: he wears his uncle’s name with such dignity and grace, so when he races or qualifies well there’s always an extra thrill to it but also, today, a terrible sense of disappointment when it doesn’t go so well. His exit from the proceedings at the first cut must have hurt. Knowing that on pole it’s his team-mate Maldonado, as famous for the size the cheques that come pinned to his application letters as for his driving, will demand Bruno summons up all the Senna family steel he can muster.

So a Williams and a Ferrari on the front and two Lotus’ behind. It’s all very retro isn’t it? But we’ll be watching the guy right at the back come 1.00pm tomorrow. Lewis is promising to ‘drive his heart out’.

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just admit it – mclaren are being very clumsy as a team this season ;)

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Great drive from Pastor. Managed tires, drove hard when needed and just did his thing. Alonso is just magic. Joint first in the championship with a car that’s not that competitive. Lotus Ren possibly lacking some tactics (e.g. Kimi a few races ago losing second and today, possibly not pushing hard enough in the early stages?) but they’re looking good. RBR easily having their toughest season for a few years and other teams surpassing them. Great drive from Ham, Button and Webber didn’t impress. Mistakes from Mc will cost them the championship.

Also, about the penalty. I don’t see why they didn’t just disqualify him from the session so he started 10th. He legitimately got through Q1 and Q2, but why demote him to the back?

In the event of a driving infringement during any practice session the Stewards may drop the driver such number of grid positions as they consider appropriate. Unless it is completely clear that a driver committed a driving infringement any such incident will normally be investigated after the relevant session. Where appropriate, regard will also be given to the provisions of Article 18.1.
Any driver taking part in any practice session who, in the opinion of the stewards, stops unnecessarily on the circuit or unnecessarily impedes another driver shall be subject to the penalties referred to in Article 31.6.

‘he Stewards may drop the driver such number of grid positions as they consider appropriate. ‘

As they consider. That can change depending on the set of stewards. Will this happen to every driver? Who knows. Also, the session had finished, so is that considered part of the session?

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I hate hate hate these f***** tyres

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@Blubb Do these articles apply to qualifying or to practice only?

Viva Venezuela! Pastor should have finished in the season opener too.

And lest we forget, RedBull leads the constructors.

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@Blubb I’m afraid your arguments are invalid. The rules you copied from the F1 Sporting regulations are about the driver’s actions (i.e. anything the driver might have done wrong). Lewis did nothing wrong. The team did. They told Lewis to stop after his qualifying lap. According to the rules, a car must be able to return to parc fermé under its own power after the qualifying session, except in cases of “greater force” (i.e. a component failure). Mclaren said the car did not have enough fuel to return to the pits with one litre left (required by the stewards for testing) therefore the car had to be stopped. That’s not a case of greater force, as the amount of fuel put in a car is under complete control of the team. That’s why Lewis was punished.

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lets face it mcclaren were trying to cheat. at that level of motors sport fueling issues don’t happen. this isn’t the first time they’ve under-fueled their cars, don’t forget canada last year, or the end of most races. the car was under weight, it stopped out on track so it doesn’t go through weight tests and so on because a “technical fault” means that the car could have changed weight all together, and witmarsh changed his story very quickly “i don’t know what made him stop. it was a technical failure” is what he said in the first press inter ve=iew after qualifying, where as the radio told him to stop. they tried to cheat so in my opinion they should have been disqualified for the entire weekend, instead of just qualifying.

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formula one is ment to be the best of the best. the best engineers. the best drivers. the best mechanics. so why then do they insist on giving the teams the wors rubber possible? desgned specially yo go of quickly, i say its time to give them back the likes of the old bridgestones and michelins, and its also time to bring back refueling. any one wtih me? light cars with no grip against heavy cars with lots of grip. the way it should be.

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Maldonado was lucky. I don’t know what updates they had to put on the car, but he was properly fast. Hamilton did well considering he started last. However, Jenson Button. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED! 9TH

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120Y, lets NOT forget that redbull are followed closely by mclaren!

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Felipe Massa has not looked close to Alonso since Friday morning… of November 2008

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I think Hamilton is deliberately being sabotage from within ,every time he has got himself the pole position something goes wrong from pit stops that suddenly the wheel not lose its shape which happens twice in two race running and then the gearbox problem that was found on the day of the race and now the highly educated engineer who forget which buttons to press accidently press the button that drain the fuel first then press the to fill button LOL,these are the mistake you would not sea college trainees make, come on McLaren if you don’t want to give him new contract just tell him to go to another team instead of putting him through hell in order for him to walk and then blame him for it.

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@topgear f1: if your opinion became true, i would get really angry and start going on the offensive. that idea is cruel and sardastic. you’re a red bull, ferrari or mercedes fan, i guess?

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I am 100 percent Mclarent and Jensen and Lewis supporter and I agree the punishment did not fit the crime, they should have ponish Mclarent by taking point off the construction championship because let’s farce it Lewis had nothing to do with it but as it was in Spain they wanted alonso to win and I am glad he did not.

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