A team member had put an insufficient quantity of fuel into the car.
Hamilton claimed McLaren’s 150th pole position in the dying seconds of Q3, displacing provisional front-of-grid driver Pastor Maldonado, but was almost immediately told by his team to pull over and stop his car. Both Hamilton and his team were subsequently called before the stewards to explain why he had not been able to return his car to the pits under its own power as prescribed in article 6.6.2 of the FIA’s Technical Regulations.
According to an FIA statement: “The stewards heard from the team representative Mr Sam Michael [Sporting Director], who stated that the car stopped on the circuit for reasons of force majeure. A team member had put an insufficient quantity of fuel into the car thereby resulting in the car having to be stopped on the circuit in order to be able to provide the required amount [of fuel] for sampling purposes.”
This argument was, however, rejected by the stewards, who stated that “the amount of fuel put into the car is under the complete control of the competitor”. They then ruled that the team had breached article 6.6.2 and excluded Hamilton from the qualifying result.
Hamilton will, however, be allowed to race, though he will start from the back of the grid. The penalty means that Pastor Maldonado will take pole position for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix. It also marks Williams’ first pole position since the Brazilian GP of 2010, claimed by Nico Hulkenberg.