Aston Martin Will Appeal Vettel’s DQ, and Why F1 Has a 1-Liter Fuel Rule Anyway

Formula 1 is a few days into its summer break, but the exact points standings remain uncertain amid Aston Martin’s decision to appeal against Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification after a runner-up finish in Hungary.

Vettel finished second at the Hungaroring to match his and Aston Martin’s best result of 2021, but was disqualified hours after the race after Formula 1’s technical team determined that Aston Martin was unable to provide the required one liter of fuel, and could extract only 300 ml from Vettel’s AMR21.

The rule is in place to ensure teams are running the fuel that they have registered with the FIA, and one liter is required in order to carry out the relevant checks. In effect, it is one of many mechanisms Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, has in place to make sure no one is tampering with fuel.

Aston Martin outlined that it felt there was a further 1.44 liters available in the tank, which for unexplained reasons could not be extracted, and lodged an intention to appeal the disqualification. Vettel’s car was consequently impounded and taken to the FIA’s technical facility.

The intention to lodge an appeal gave the team 96 hours in which to determine whether or not to push ahead with an appeal process. On Thursday evening in the U.K., ahead of that deadline to begin the appeals process, Aston Martin gave the green light for the appeal process be lodged, while also requesting a right of review in addition.

Aston Martin outlined in a statement that it has “discovered significant new evidence relevant to the sanction which was unavailable to it at the time of the FIA stewards’ decision.” That in effect means a new hearing will be held, at which the stewards from the Hungaroring round will be recalled to review whether the new evidence supplied by Aston Martin is worth taking into consideration. An appeal process will then be heard irrespective of the success of the right of review.

Aston Martin stressed that “there was and is no suggestion that Vettel’s AMR21 benefited from a performance advantage from the alleged regulatory breach, or that it was deliberate.”

The outcome of Aston Martin’s appeal and right to review will have an impact on the championship standings.

If Vettel is reinstated then Lewis Hamilton will hold a six-point advantage over Max Verstappen in the fight for the Drivers’ title, rather than the eight-point cushion he currently enjoys. It would also mean Mercedes’ current 12-point advantage over Red Bull Racing in the F1 Constructors’ Championship is cut to 10.

While less glamorous than the drivers’ fight the outcome will also be pivotal for Aston Martin’s season. Its main rival for fifth in the championship, Alpine, scored heavily in Hungary courtesy of Esteban Ocon’s shock victory and Fernando Alonso’s fifth-place finish, which became fourth after Vettel’s exclusion. AlphaTauri also had a strong result.

Alpine now has 77 points, with AlphaTauri on 68, and Aston Martin—following the exclusion—on 48, facing an uphill battle in that fight.

If Aston Martin is successful in its appeal, then Alpine will sit on a reduced 75, Aston Martin 66 and AlphaTauri 64. Each position is worth prize money and prestige in teams of pecking order.

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