British driver Lewis Hamilton has been stripped of the pole position for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix after a violation in qualifying. Pastor Maldonado will now start in pole position in his Williams.
Lewis Hamilton appeared to have secured his 22nd career pole position under the Spanish sun Saturday, posting a last-gasp lap more than half a second faster than anyone else in the field.
But a few hours later, the Formula One governing body, FIA, decided that Hamilton would instead start at the back of the grid after it was ruled his McLaren team had not put enough fuel in his car to meet regulations in the qualifying session. This can give a driver an advantage in qualifying since his car is then lighter.
During qualifying, Hamilton was told by his team to stop his car on the track after finishing the lap but before making it all the way back to the pits, which indicated he may have not had enough fuel left.
Williams driver Pastor Maldonado, who secured a surprising second-place spot initially, will now start from pole position. That will be the first time any car from that team will line up on the front row since the last race of 2010, and the first time it has qualified so well in dry conditions since 2006.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, racing in front of his home fans a few miles from Barcelona at the Circuit de Catalunya, moves up to second after an impressive qualification.
A trio of German drivers reached the 10-car shootout for pole position at the end of the session, but they could only manage seventh, eighth and ninth places.
Nico Rosberg qualified seventh, Michael Schumacher bagged ninth, while defending world champion Sebastian Vettel will start the race sandwiched between the two Mercedes GP cars in eighth. Like the rest of the field, they will move up one place with the suspension of Hamilton.
Pole wasn't possible
Championship leader Vettel, Schumacher and 10th-placed Kamui Kobayashi never recorded an entire flying lap in the final 10-minute session of qualifying, as much of the field sought to conserve tires ahead of Sunday's race. Their grid positions were decided based on their so-called split times, their speed in individual sectors of the lap where they did compete.
Vettel said after the session that "pole was not possible today," and that the team had therefore decided to limit its running in qualifying in a bid to have a superior race-day strategy. Vettel's Red Bull teammate Mark Webber could only manage 12th on the grid in a difficult session for the Milton Keynes-based outfit at a track the team had dominated in recent years. Red Bull's Webber had blasted to pole at this track in the previous two seasons, winning in 2010 but losing out to Vettel in the 2011 race.
The Lotus Renault duo of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen will line up fourth and fifth on the grid, with Sauber's Sergio Perez starting sixth.
Germany's Nico Hülkenberg put his Force India 14th on the grid, while Timo Glock had a typically trying day in his Marussia, only managing to secure 22nd.
Vettel goes into the race with a narrow four-point championship lead over McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.
Author: Mark Hallam, Matt Zuvela
Editor: Charlotte Chelsom-Pill