Mercedes frontman 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 his team 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 car was judged to be “outside the thresholds outlined in Article 3.5.9 e).” – which states that the plank cannot wear to below 9mm thickness.
Fans had been celebrating his podium finish, signalling the beginning of positive changes for the seven-time world champion after struggling with a temperamental car this season.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished sixth, was also disqualified for the same breach following the 56-lap race in Austin.
The disqualifications meant that Lando Norris was elevated to runner-up behind Max Verstappen, who claimed the 50th win of his career, and Leclerc’s teammate 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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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