Lewis Hamilton was stripped of pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday and sent to the back of the starting grid after his McLaren team failed to put enough fuel in the Briton's car.
The governing FIA said its four race stewards had excluded the 2008 Formula One world champion from the results of the qualifying session.
The decision means Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado will start Sunday's race on pole position, the first for Williams since 2010, with Spaniard Fernando Alonso alongside for Ferrari.
Hamilton was told by the team his car had a problem on the slowing down lap after taking pole and was ordered to stop immediately without returning to the pits as the rules demand.
McLaren had argued force majeure but the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said its stewards rejected that defence.
"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," a statement said.
"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 determined 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 FIA statement read.
"The competitor is however allowed to start the race from the back of the grid."
No driver has won in 21 years of the Spanish Grand Prix being held in Barcelona from lower than third place on the grid.
A McLaren spokesman said the team accepted "the stewards did not agree with our interpretation of force majeure. Our aim is now to maximise the points we can score tomorrow".