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Lewis Hamilton will lose his pole position for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix after meeting with the FIA race stewards on Saturday evening.
The McLaren driver will now start at the back of the grid after being excluded for stopping on-track with insufficient fuel to make it back to the pits and to provide a sample.
The penalty hands pole to Pastor Maldonado.
The 27-year-old was told to stop his car on his in-lap after securing pole position with a 1:21.707. When he was asked why, he said he didn't know.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh offered a little more insight, but gave no definitive answer when he was probed on the issue.
"It is a technical problem that happened in the garage that didn't impede the performance of the car in anyway, and we stopped the car when it had 1.3-litres of fuel in the car," he explained.
"There was a technical problem that led to that situation. I think it is not for me to decide [if Hamilton is penalised]; but I would believe that to be a force majeure but it is up to the stewards to decide."
The regulations state that it is unacceptable for a driver to stop after the race without a reasonable explanation, and that they musn't have done it to gain an advantage - it however doesn't mention anything about qualifying.
A statement from the FIA explained they couldn't accept McLaren's excuse that a member of the team under fuelled the car prior to Hamilton's pole lap.
"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, 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," said the stewards in a statement.
"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 for sampling purposes.
"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 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."