Huge breaking news out of the qualifying round today for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: reigning Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel will start the race at the back of the field after a qualifying violation, according to news reports.
ESPN reported that Vettel’s Red Bull car failed to return to the pits under its own power during qualifying. The cause of that was ruled “force majeure,” but apparently race officials needed a one liter fuel sample from the car and Vettel only 850 milliliters onboard, which resulted in the penalty.
The BBC reports that it’s a huge blow to Vettel, who went in to Abu Dhabi with a 13-point lead over his title rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari. Vettel has won the last four races of the season and originally qualified third here.
“The F1 rules require the car to return to the pits with at least one litre of fuel on board - running less fuel gives a performance advantage,” the BBC’s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson wrote. (More on the rules can be found at the UK’s F1 Fanatic blog.)
Lewis Hamilton will start in first place tomorrow, and Alonso will start in sixth.
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