Vettel out for pits-lane start
DOWN - BUT CERTAINLY NOT OUT: Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel in the pits during qualifying at the Yas Marina circuit at the 2012 Abu Dhabi F1 GP. It's where he will start from on Sunday. Image: AFP
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
ABU DHABI, UAE - Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel was down but not out after his hopes of winning Sunday's 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix disappeared as fast as an F1 car roaring into the distance.
The double World champion, 13 points ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso with three races remaining, will start from the pits lane after being sent from third place to the back of the grid for a fuel irregularity.
He said in a team statement: "One of the best ski jumpers (Finland's former Olympic champion Matti Nykanen) of all time once said 'Every chance is an opportunity' and as far as we are concerned there are still plenty of chances on Sunday.”
Vettel has led every lap of the last three races and would have been chasing a fifth win in succession under the floodlights of the glittering Yas Marina circuit.
Instead, it will be a case of damage limitation at a circuit where most drivers are likely to do one pit stop and where overtaking has never been easy.
Red Bull principal Christian Horner, who had hoped to see his team clinch the Constructors' title on Sunday for the third year in a row, told reporters that the stewards' decision was "frustrating, annoying and one of those things”.
"If he manages to get into the points that would be a great achievement," he added.
Vettel had been told to stop immediately on track, to protect the engine, after qualifying as he returned to the pits. Post-qualifying checks found there was an insufficient quantity of fuel left in the car to take a sample - only 850ml instead of the mandatory litre.
Horner said engine partner was Renault was convinced the rest of the fuel was still in the tank but the team had taken the car out of parc ferme where the cars cannot be worked on, to carry out further checks, meaning Vettel would start from the pits lane and not even at the back of the grid.
"Sebastian was remarkably calm. He dealt with it and said 'Out of a negative comes a positive," said Horner. "He'll be maximum attack.”
The Briton refused to criticise the governing FIA and said he felt it was a fair decision. "The rules dictate that a litre has to be able to be provided without removal of bodywork... we believe that the fuel is in the cell, according to what Renault has told us, but you can't dismantle the cell to give the sample.
"There's a long race ahead of us and there's an opportunity," added the team principal. "We'll attack the race and I'm sure Sebastian will demonstrate to everybody why he's a great racer.
"He's come from the back and produced great races before and I've got no doubt that he can do it again.”
Starting grid from the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday
1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren
2. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault
3. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams - Renault
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus - Renault
5. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren
6. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari
7. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes
8. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari
9. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - Renault
10. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India - Mercedes
11. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber - Ferrari
12. Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India - Mercedes
13. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes
14. Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams - Renault
15. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber - Ferrari
16. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso - Ferrari
17. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso - Ferrari
18. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham - Renault
19. Charles Pic (France) Marussia - Cosworth
20. Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham - Renault
21. Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia - Cosworth
22. Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT - Cosworth
23. Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT - Cosworth
24. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull - Renault