EXPLAINER | The fuel irregularities that led to Sebastian Vettel's DQ from Hungarian GP

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Sebastian Vettel completing a pit stop during the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel completing a pit stop during the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix
Peter Fox

 • Sebastian Vettel has been disqualified from the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix following fuel irregularities.

 • The driver failed to have a sufficient fuel sample left in his Aston Martin at the end of the race.

 • We explain why Vettel's disqualification came about.

 • For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24

The Formula 1 fraternity has been left shocked after Sebastian Vettel's disqualification from the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix. Vettel, who was challenging Alpine driver and eventual winner Esteban Ocon for the win, came home in second place to give his Aston Martin team something to celebrate. At the end of the race, though, Vettel pulled over to the side of the track after his F1 car only had 300ml of fuel left.

This seemed okay, given that it's not uncommon for drivers to try and reserve their last fuel and hitch a ride back to the paddock - as long as there is enough fuel in the car for the FIA, F1's governing body, to check it for any irregularities.

According to the FIA, Vettel did not have enough fuel in his car at the end of the race to conduct the various checks, which gave rise to his disqualification. Drivers need to provide a one-litre sample at any time for the FIA. Aston Martin has since confirmed that it will appeal the decision.

Fueling the drama

F1 is no stranger to rules and regulations. It is so fixated on it that it sometimes drains the sport from credibility and fun. Every year, the FIA and F1 revisit the rulebook, with minor or significant changes brought about. In terms of fuel, the sport announced in 2019 that the fuel limit would be increased from 105kg to 110kg to ensure that teams run at maximum performance throughout the race.

As part of the directive, teams must declare how much fuel they plan to fill an F1 car with two hours ahead of a race. This fuel load should allow a driver to make his way from the pits to the starting grid, complete the formation lap and the race, and the in-lap at the end of the race. The FIA further requires that the indicated fuel amount be in the F1 car one hour before a race starts. If that's not all, the FIA further reserves the right to randomly weigh an F1 car before a race and drain the fuel from the car for tests before refuelling said car with the same fuel.

After the race, teams must pump the remaining fuel - at least 1.0 litre - out of the car, with the FIA conducting various tests to ensure that a driver started the race with the indicated fuel amount. If irregularities are found, a driver can be disqualified from a race, but teams reserve the right to appeal.

READ: F1 UPDATE | Vettel's second place disqualified, Hamilton now extends championship lead

The head of the FIA's single-seater matters, Nikolas Tombazis, notes: "The difference between the pre- and post-race fuel masses will be assumed to be the measured fuel mass used. It can be compared to the integrated FFM (fuel flow meter) figures and to the fuel injectors model figures to confirm the validity of these readings. The pre-race fuel mass that gets used for this calculation is either the declared mass, or the measured mass if this has been randomly checked."

Vettel failed to have enough fuel left in his car for the FIA to successfully conduct their post-race tests, which gave rise to his disqualification. If Aston Martin manages to overturn the FIA's verdict, Vettel's second-place finish at the Hungarian GP will be reinstated.

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Sebastian Vettel
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