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Sports

Brake-hampered Vettel demoted to last place

Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel will start out in last place in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after being judged to have broken the rules. The German had stopped his car on the track after qualification.

Germany's Vettel was sent to the back of the grid due to a "fuel irregularity" after battling against technical problems for much of Saturday's qualifying.

Vettel said his team had asked him to stop the car on the track during his return to the pits. After the session, he met race stewards along with a representative of his team Red Bull.

The championship leader was struck from the second row, having finished in third place, for not having enough fuel in his car. "That was a blow," said Vettel, who nevertheless said he was optimistic about Sunday's race, claiming "everything" was possible.

Lewis Hamilton's performance for McLaren - in which he finished with an outstanding best time of one minute and 40.630 seconds - will see him placed at the top of the grid.

Vettel's Red Bull teammate, Australian Mark Webber, will share the front row with Hamilton for Sunday's 55-lap race at Yas Marina, having finished in second place.

Vettel completed only seven laps of the circuit in the final qualifying session after suffering from problems with his brakes. He had managed to achieve the third-fastest lap of the day in the last four minutes of the allotted time.

"McLaren, in particular Lewis, are pretty quick and were out of reach today," Vettel had said immediately after the race. "I'm not entirely happy with the last part of qualifying. It was quite tricky for me. I should have been a little quicker."

Vettel's rival for this year's title, Fernando Alonso, also struggled. The Spaniard is set to begin in seventh place on the grid on Sunday.

Alonso, who admitted that his team had not been competitive, is Vettel's rival for the drivers' championship and is currently placed 13 points behind the German.

rc/hc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)