Mercedes blamed the bumpy surface of the Circuit of the Americas for Lewis Hamilton‘s disqualification from the 2023 United States Grand Prix, after Formula 1 scrutineers found his floor plank had worn too thin.
Hamilton and polesitter Charles Leclerc were both disqualified post-race, but winner Max Verstappen and third-placed Lando Norris were also inspected and passed to keep their results.
Michael Schumacher famously lost his 1994 Belgian GP win for breaking the same regulation, and the result means Hamilton‘s now failed to score in two consecutive races for their first time since 2010.
“Turning to the race result and the disqualification, 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,” Mercedes‘ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin told the media.
“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.”
Wolff: F1 stewards’ decision ‘disappointing’
It had been an excellent weekend for Hamilton up until the post-race announcement, as he was able to put up a race-long fight for victory against Verstappen for the first time in 2023.
He crossed the line just two seconds behind the Dutchman, the closest he’s been to a race win all season, and was brimming with optimism that Mercedes will return to regularly fighting Red Bull.
However, the disqualification is a sucker-punch for Mercedes as it means Carlos Sainz moves up to the podium and Ferrari cut their constructors’ championship deficit to just 22 points in the battle for second.
“We are of course naturally very disappointed to lose our podium finish,” Wolff added. “Unfortunately, it is one of the pitfalls of the sprint format where we have a solitary hour of running before parc ferme.
“Without running at a race fuel load in FP1, combined with a circuit as bumpy as this and the parts of the track where the drivers have to put the car during the grand prix, have contributed to the higher than expected wear levels.
“We will go away and learn from this but also take the positives from our experience as a whole.”