13 May 2012

Hamilton penalty puts Maldonado on pole

9:37 am on 13 May 2012

The Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado will start tonight's Spanish Grand Prix on pole position for Williams after Lewis Hamilton was sent to the back of the grid because McLaren failed to put enough fuel in his car.

The four race stewards excluded Britain's 2008 world champion from Saturday's qualifying results at the Circuit de Catalunya but allowed him to start from 24th and last place.

Without the most basic human error so far in a season full of pitlane blunders, McLaren would have been celebrating their 150th pole in Formula One.

Instead, the sensational and surprisingly harsh decision - announced four and a half hours after the track action had finished - handed former champions Williams their first pole since 2010 and only their second in six years.

It also promoted Ferrari's local favourite Fernando Alonso to the front row for his home race at a circuit where the winner has started in the top two on 20 of 21 occasions and he can count on near-total support from the crowd.