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FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton has been stripped of his pole postion in the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix after being disqualified from qualifying by FIA race stewards.

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2012 Spanish Grand Prix

* Race distance: 66 laps (190.825 miles/307.104km)

* Start time: 14:00 (local)/12:00 (GMT)

* Circuit length: 2.892 miles/4.655km

* 2011 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)

* 2011 pole: Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing)

* Lap record: Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari F2008) 1m 21.670s

The 27-year-old F1 racer from Hertfordshire qualified fastest at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona today (Saturday).

However, the 2008 world champion stopped out on track having pipped Pastor Maldonado’s Williams in the dying seconds of qualifying to claim McLaren’s 150th pole position.

Hamilton was almost immediately told by his team to pull over and stop his car. As a result, Hamilton failed to drive his MP4-27 back to parc ferme, with insufficient fuel in the car the reason why.

Both Hamilton and his team were subsequently called before stewards to explain why he had not been able to return his car to the pits under its own power.

The FIA stewards ruled this was a breach of regulations and Hamilton will now start Sunday’s race in Spain from the back of the grid.

Maldonado will line-up on pole in the revised starting positions with Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari also on the front row.

A statement released by the FIA said: “The stewards received a report from the race director which stated that during post-qualifying scrutineering a sample of fuel was required from car 4 [Lewis Hamilton’s car], however, the car failed to return to the pits under its own power as required under Article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations.

“The stewards heard from the team representative Mr Sam Michael, who stated that the car stopped on the circuit for reasons of force majeure.

“A team member had put an insufficient quantity of fuel into the car thereby resulting in the car having to be stopped on the circuit in order to be able to provide the required amount [of fuel] for sampling purposes.”

The statement continued: “As the amount of fuel put into the car is under the complete control of the competitor the stewards cannot accept this as a case of force majeure.

“The stewards determine that this is a breach of Article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations and the competitor [Hamilton] is accordingly excluded from the results of the qualifying session.

“The competitor is however allowed to start the race from the back of the grid.”

"Whatever position I start a Grand Prix from, I’ll always race my heart out."

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton after being relegated to the back of the Spanish GP grid

Stevenage-born Lewis will now start the race from 24th place, with Jenson Button 10th on the grid following his McLaren teammate’s grid penalty.

“This is such a disappointment,” said Hamilton after the hearing.

“Today’s qualifying session was one of the best I’ve ever driven – the whole car was just rolling so smoothly – it felt fantastic.

“The team had done a fantastic job to bring the updates here this weekend – so I want to say a huge thank-you to all the men and women at the MTC for working day and night to get all the new components here this weekend.

“But, on my slowing-down lap, my engineers told me to stop on the track, and I didn’t know why.

“Later, to hear that I’d been excluded from qualifying, was of course extremely disappointing.”

He added: “But, now, looking ahead to tomorrow, I think it’s clear that it’s going to be an incredibly tough race for us.”

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “Lewis hooked it up beautifully in Q3 today, continuing his run of scintillating quali-laps so far this season.

“However, he was unable to finish his slow-down lap – and, since we accept that the stewards didn’t agree with our interpretation of force majeure, we didn’t contest their decision to penalise him.”

The 2012 Grand Prix of Spain starts at 1pm on Sunday.

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