PAUL di Resta has been excluded from qualifying for the British Grand Prix after his Force India was found to be underweight.
He will be forced to start at the back of the grid or from the pit lane despite producing the best qualifying performance of his Formula One career by posting the fifth quickest lap time around Silverstone, where Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole.
But, during post-qualifying scrutineering, technical delegate Jo Bauer discovered a weight discrepancy and immediately referred the matter to the stewards for their consideration.
Following an investigation by the stewards, with Nigel Mansell one of the four men on the panel, they disqualified Di Resta from qualifying. With the Scot’s times expunged from the records, Di Resta will now start from either the back of the grid, or should the team choose, the pit lane.
The FIA technical report ahead of the stewards’ hearing, and signed by Bauer, read: “After the third qualifying session car number 14, driver Paul Di Resta, was weighed 641.5kg, 0.5kg under the minimum weight as required by the technical regulations.
“After this the car was completely drained in order to establish the minimum weight of the car without fuel, 642kg, was respected at all times during the qualifying sessions.
“Then the car was weighed again without any fuel on board and weighed only 640kg, 2.0kg below the minimum weight.
“The scales were checked with the calibrated weights supplied by the organiser of the event and they showed 599.5kg when checking with 600kg of weights.
“Taking this 0.5kg into account, car 14 is still 1.5kg below the minimum weight as required by the technical regulations.”
However, Force India has since confirmed the discrepancy surrounds Di Resta in particular
Under the regulations, the total minimum weight refers to a car plus driver.
The car was weighed after final practice and again after qualifying, producing identical results.
It has since been discovered Di Resta was mysteriously 1.5kgs lighter after qualifying as opposed to final practice.
Force India had initially considered racing under appeal, only for the Silverstone-based marque to eventually decide to accept the stewards’ decision.
Hamilton savoured the “incredible feeling” of grabbing pole but is wary of being gored by two charging Red Bulls.
For the 29th time in his Formula One career Hamilton will start from the top spot on the grid after conjuring a stunning lap.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Hamilton had emerged from his Mercedes unable to recall the last time he had felt so uncomfortable.
But what a difference a day makes as he scorched around the circuit in the final qualifying session, setting the quickest time in each sector to leave team-mate Nico Rosberg four tenths of a second adrift alongside him on the front row.
The home fans were euphoric and Hamilton said: “To see the crowd here is fantastic, such a great turnout from everyone, so that was a lap for them. “I just hope tomorrow we can do something special for them, but this is really down to the team. They’ve been doing a phenomenal job by constantly improving the car. I haven’t been feeling 100 per cent comfortable all weekend, so I was really happy to finally get a lap.”
But with triple world champion Sebastian Vettel directly behind him, and with Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber alongside the German, the 28-year-old knows what to expect.
“The Red Bulls are going to be very hard to beat, without doubt,” he added.
Behind the leading quartet, Vettel’s title rivals Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will start eighth and ninth due to Di Resta’s demotion.
McLaren’s Jenson Button is now tenth and Max Chilton 20th for Marussia, also benfitting from Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde being given a penalty.