Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was only able to celebrate his podium finish at the United States Grand Prix for a matter of hours, as he was later disqualified from the race. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was also disqualified, as both cars failed post-race checks.
Hamilton’s second-place finish was stripped following an official investigation into his Mercedes car.
The seven-time World Champion finished just behind Max Verstappen on Sunday and shared the podium with McLaren driver Lando Norris. But two hours after, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer raised a potential problem with his car and also began an investigation into Leclerc’s vehicle after a referral from the stewards.
The cars failed post-race floor and plank checks, leaving them with no option but to disqualify both drivers from the race. It meant that Carlos Sainz was elevated to third place, and Norris finished second behind Verstappen.
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Mercedes and Ferrari both went to the FIA offices to discuss the matter, but they failed to fight their case as the cars failed to adhere to F1 technical rules. Once both drivers were disqualified a statement was released by the FIA.
“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 that minimized the time to set up and check the car before the race,” their statement read.
“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. 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.”
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Due to the updated results, Sergio Perez climbed to fourth place, and everyone who finished after Leclerc in sixth place was bumped up by two spots. “It is of course disappointing to be disqualified post-race, but that doesn’t take away from the progress we’ve made this weekend,” Hamilton said when reacting to the news.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff later admitted that they were at fault, as he 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.
The disqualification does nothing to impact the World Championship race, with Verstappen already sealing another title. But Hamilton was closing in on second place, and now trails Perez by 19 points.
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