The plank underneath Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes was found to have worn too thin during the United States Grand Prix; Hamilton had finished second behind Max Verstappen; Charles Leclerc was also disqualified from sixth for the same offence
Lewis Hamilton lost his second-place finish at the United States Grand Prix after being disqualified when his Mercedes failed a physical floor and plank wear inspection after Sunday’s race.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was found guilty of the same offence, and also disqualified from his sixth-place finish.
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Hamilton’s disqualification saw McLaren’s Lando Norris promoted to second behind race-winner Max Verstappen, and the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz onto the podium.
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“Set-up choices on a sprint weekend are always a challenge with just one hour of free practice – and even more so at a bumpy circuit like COTA and running a new package,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
“In the end, all of that doesn’t matter; others got it right where we got it wrong and there’s no wiggle room in the rules. We need to take it on the chin, do the learning, and come back stronger next weekend.”
In Mercedes’ post-race press release, Hamilton said: “It is of course disappointing to be disqualified post-race but that doesn’t take away from the progress we’ve made this weekend.”
Meanwhile, Williams Logan Sargeant scores the first point of his rookie F1 campaign after being promoted to 10th, with both of the team’s drivers scoring as Alex Albon jumped up to ninth.
As for the battle for second in the constructors’ championship, Ferrari are 22 points behind Mercedes in the constructors’ championship with four events remaining. Ferrari sporting director Diego Ioverno explained the Italian team’s perspective on the disqualification:
“Austin is a super nice track but is extremely bumpy. Bumpiness is a difficult topic for drivers and cars. In the past, more or less everyone failed their suspension or chassis,” he said.
“We knew it would have been tricky and this is the reason why we lifted the car throughout FP1 and from our consideration it should have been OK.
“As a matter of fact it turned out we were too marginal and also because of the wind that turned direction and had a stronger intensity than forecast, this brought our car to not be legal in the end.
“There is not a lot to say or at this moment we could have done. With hindsight, rewinding the weekend, we may have lifted even more the car, but would have lost performance and we are here to optimise our own performance.”
What the stewards ruled as Hamilton, Leclerc excluded
An FIA statement confirming the decision said Mercedes and Ferrari had acknowledged their respective breach was “probably a result of the unique combination of the bumpy track and the Sprint race schedule that minimised the time to set up and check the car before the race”.
The statement added: “The stewards note that the onus is on the competitor to ensure that the car is in compliance with the regulations at all times during an event.”
Both teams have the option to appeal the ruling, but social media posts from their official accounts quickly appeared to suggest that the decisions had been accepted.
Hamilton had been left frustrated after agonisingly missing out on a first victory in almost two years at the hands of world champion Max Verstappen, but ultimately would have had the win taken away from him.
The disqualification is a major blow to Hamilton’s hopes of chasing down Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez for second in the drivers’ standings.
The Mexican was promoted to from fifth to fourth, and instead of only leading Hamilton by 19 points going into the final four rounds of the season, has a 39-point advantage.
Updated United States GP result
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Lando Norris, McLaren
3) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
4) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
5) George Russell, Mercedes
6) Pierre Gasly, Alpine
7) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
8) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
9) Alex Albon, Williams
10) Logan Sargeant, Williams
How did teams and drivers react?
How did Hamilton and Leclerc’s skid blocks wear out?
Sky Sports’ Nigel Chiu:
“The Circuit of The Americas is one of the bumpiest tracks on the calendar and the Mercedes and Ferraris were visibly running lower to the ground than the Red Bull throughout the weekend.
“In the high-speed first sector, the cars bounce over the bumps hard and the floor gets a big pounding, which explains the skid block being worn out. With no Safety Cars in the 19-lap Sprint on Saturday and the 56-lap Grand Prix on Sunday, there was no let up for the cars after parc ferme rules came into effect from qualifying on Friday onwards.
“A minimum thickness of 9mm is accepted due to wear, so Hamilton and Leclerc’s cars must have had less than this post-race when they were checked.