How Was Sebastian Vettel Disqualified Because of Fuel?

Saturday sparked a controversial set of circumstances that concluded with Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification from the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday. Finger-pointing began at the end of qualifying when drivers behind Lewis Hamilton barely crossed the line in time to set a hot lap. Some drivers didn’t make it at all.

vettel avoids accident at Hungary 2021
Sebastian Vettel Avoids Accident | Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

The first lap of Sunday’s race saw carnage in turn 1. The wet tarmac made it easy for Valtteri Bottas to lock his front tires and slam into the back of Lando Norris. Norris veered left and hit Max Verstappen off the track, causing some major damage to the Red Bull’s aero bits.

Sebastian Vettel, who managed to avoid the incident started down in P10. The race director red-flagged the session, and drivers went back to the pits before the race restarted. Vettel found himself near the front of the grid, with the likes of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso.

Vettel challenged for the win, but ultimately couldn’t get his Aston Martin past Ocon and finished the race in P2. Hours later, news emerged his car failed a test, and Vettel was disqualified from the race result. This handed P2 to Lewis Hamilton and promoted Carlos Sainz Jr. to P3.

Why Was Vettel Disqualified?

vettel in the pits at hungary 2021
Sebastian Vettel in the Pits | Florion Goga – Pool/Getty Images

Under regulation Article 6.6, a car must have enough fuel that officials can gather a 1-liter sample at any time. The officials could only extract 0.3-liters of fuel from Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin after the race, despite Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer stating the car had 1.44-liters left. According to the rules, this warranted Vettel to be disqualified from the race. Vettel’s team announced its appeal of the decision and has 96 hours to decide if they want to go forward with the appeal.

How Did the FIA Struggle to Get Enough Fuel for a Sample?

vettel at the hungarian grand prix 2021
Sebastian Vettel at Hungarian Grand Prix | Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Official data has yet to be released. Otmar stated Vettel’s car had an issue with the fuel lift pump after the race, which could be the culprit. A fuel leak is another possibility. However, due to the complex construction of the cars, it’s difficult to get a sample. The bodywork and power unit reportedly make extracting fuel more difficult now than in the past, when entire fuel systems could be removed. Teams must shut off the engine before the FIA gathers fuel samples, so the FIA can’t reach the fuel inside the lines either.

Vettel fans must wait a few more days to see if Aston Martin will go ahead with the appeal. Even if the team does take action, there’s a slim chance they can overturn the decision. Even if there were 20 liters left in the tank, the faulty pump wouldn’t have made it impossible to extract, According to Auto, Motor und Sport. Regardless of the outcome, it was a superb drive from Vettel and won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

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