Lewis Hamilton has been disqualified from second place in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix for driving an illegal car.
Nearly four hours after the chequered flag fell on Hamilton’s most competitive race of the season – one he claimed he should have won if Mercedes did not fluff their strategy lines – the stewards declared his car’s machinery did not comply with the regulations.
The depth of the new floor on Hamilton’s Mercedes was adjudged to be “outside the thresholds outlined in Article 3.5.9 e).” – which states that the plank cannot wear to below 9mm thickness.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 23, 2023
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished sixth, was disqualified for the same breach following Sunday’s 56-lap race at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.
Hamilton’s demise elevated Lando Norris to runner-up behind Max Verstappen, who claimed the 50th win of his career and 15th from 18 this season, and Carlos Sainz to third.
Sergio Perez was promoted to fourth to extend his lead over Hamilton in the fight for runner-up in the championship from 27 points to 39 with four races left.
Mercedes’ sporting director Ron Meadows, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin and reliability chief Richard Lane were summoned to fight Hamilton’s corner with the FIA’s four stewards – which included former British driver Derek Warwick – at 6pm local time (midnight BST).
After 30 minutes, the trio emerged from the FIA offices in the paddock before Hamilton’s punishment was handed down at 7.16pm local time (1.16am BST). It is understood Mercedes will not appeal the FIA’s verdict.
Update: Lewis has been disqualified from the #USGP
Post race checks by the FIA showed excessive wear on the rear skid on Lewis’ car.
This means he loses his second-place finish. pic.twitter.com/IHvM1jiA0A
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) October 23, 2023
A statement from the FIA read: “During the hearing the team acknowledged that the measurement performed by the FIA Technical Team was correct and stated that the high wear on the skid pads was probably a result of the unique combination of the bumpy track and the sprint race schedule (on Saturday) that minimised the time to set up and check the car before the race.
“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.”
It continued: “In this particular case, the rear skid in the area defined in the technical delegate’s report was outside of the thresholds outlined in Article 3.5.9 e) of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations, which includes a tolerance for wear.
“Therefore, the standard penalty for a breach of the technical regulations is imposed.”
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) October 23, 2023
Four cars were chosen at random following the race. Both Verstappen’s Red Bull and Norris’ McLaren passed the scrutineering checks.
Addressing his punishment, Hamilton said: “It is, of course, disappointing to be disqualified post-race but that doesn’t take away from the progress.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “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.
“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 Mexico.”
Michael Schumacher was disqualified from the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix for an illegal floor, allowing Damon Hill to win the race.
The post-race penalties on Sunday night saw Williams’ Logan Sargeant claim his maiden point in F1 – the first American to score in the sport since Michael Andretti 30 years ago for McLaren at the Italian Grand Prix.