Lewis Hamilton has been dramatically disqualified from the US Grand Prix for running an illegal floor.
The seven-time world champion was stripped of his second place finish nearly four hours after the end of the race won by Max Verstappen.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished sixth, was also expelled for the same illegality by four stewards in Austin.
The problem with Hamilton and Leclerc’s cars was the depth of the plank that runs close to the floor. Four cars were examined post-race at random. Hamilton had been fitted with a new floor in an upgrade package that delivered his most competitive performance of the season.
Lewis Hamilton has been disqualified from the US Grand Prix for running an illegal floor
Hamilton finished second and was close to catching winner Max Verstappen at the end
The floor’s plank cannot wear to below 9mm thickness.
Jo Bauer, the FIA’s technical delegate, referred the potential transgressions to the stewards at the Circuit of Americas, chaired by German Felix Holter and including Britain’s Derek Warwick.
Mercedes were represented by sporting director Ron Meadows, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin and reliability boss Richard Lane at the hearing at 6pm local time, midnight Monday morning BST.
The judgment, which came out at 7.20pm, read: ‘Car 44 is disqualified from the race (Article 12.4.1.m of the FIA International Sporting Code). The other competitors move up in the classification.’
Citing reasons, the adjudication continued: ‘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 minimised the time to set up and check the car before the race.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc , who finished sixth, was also expelled for the same illegality
‘The stewards note that the onus is on the competitor to ensure 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.’
Hamilton’s exclusion allowed Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez to move up a place to fourth. That, in turn, meant the Mexican consolidated second place in the drivers’ standings. He is 39 points ahead of Hamilton with four rounds remaining.
Michael Schumacher was disqualified from the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix for the same offence, meaning Damon Hill took the win.
Logan Sargeant, who finished 12th for Williams, scored his first point – and the first by an American since Michael Andretti for McLaren in Italy Grand Prix 30 years ago.
Mercedes have confirmed to Mail Sport that they are not appealing the decision.