Red Bull says insufficient fuel was put into Mark Webber's car for Chinese Grand Prix qualifying due to an issue with a bowser.
Webber had his qualifying times disallowed as there was not enough fuel left in his Red Bull to provide the mandatory sample for the FIA at the end of the session.
His car had run out of fuel on track just after a Q2 run.
His time held up for 14th place but he will now have to start last.
Team boss Christian Horner put the problem down to an error with the bowser, the tank that is filled with fuel and then programmed to deliver the correct amount to the car.
"Unfortunately in Q2 the amount of fuel that was required to be put into the car from the fuel rig was not fully delivered," he said.
"This was due to an error with the fuel bowser that meant it under delivered 3kg of fuel.
"Therefore on Mark's in-lap we saw large drop outs in the fuel tank collector and the car unfortunately ran dry of fuel, which is obviously frustrating.
"The fuel bowser has been immediately quarantined for further investigation."
Formula 1 rules demand that if a car stops on track during qualifying it must have sufficient fuel to prove it could have returned to the pits in addition to the one-litre sample required for testing.
The issue comes just months after a similar situation led to Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull being disqualified from Abu Dhabi GP qualifying.
Horner added that Webber would have joined Vettel in running conservatively on medium tyres had he reached Q3 as expected.
"He would obviously have made Q3 today and the tactic with both drivers was to adopt the same strategy," said Horner.
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