Sebastian Vettel will start the 2012 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pit lane on Sunday, after his Red Bull car failed to return to the pits under its own power at the end of qualifying, and race officials were then unable to extract sufficient fuel from the car to comply with FIA regulation.
The full notice from the stewards reads:
The Stewards received a report from the Race Director that car 1 failed to return to the pits under its own power as required under Article 6.6.2 of the FIA F1 Technical Regulations.
The Stewards heard from the driver and team representatives and studied telemetry evidence that showed the reason why the car was stopped.
The Stewards accepted the explanation and considered the incident as being a case of force majeure.
However a report was received from the Technical Delegate that showed during post-qualifying scrutineering an insufficient quantity of fuel for sampling purposes.
The Stewards determine that this is a breach of Article 6.6.2 of the FIA F1 Technical Regulations and the Competitor is accordingly excluded from the results of the Qualifying Session.
The Competitor is however allowed to start the race from the back of the grid.
Lewis Hamilton has previously fallen foul of the regulation, in Spain earlier this year, and had the same penalty applied. Under the regulations, race stewards can even decide to exclude a car from the race for the infringement.
The stewards took over four hours to investigate the issue, and held meetings with several of the people involved including Vettel and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Speaking to the media immediately after the end of qualifying, Vettel had indicated that he had not been told the reason why he had to pull over on his cool-down lap. “I don't why I was asked to stop," Vettel had said, adding: "I think probably some problem. It shouldn't be something major.”
Christian Horner initially indicated that the team had directed Vettel to stop at the urging of engine supplier Renault, which had led to early theories centring on another alternator issue for the team. Later it emerged that the problem detected had been low fuel pressure which could have damaged the engine if Vettel hadn't been ordered to stop immediately.