AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from the Formula One United States Grand Prix hours after his second place finish to Max Verstappen when race officials found a technical rules violation with the skid block under his car.
The decision wiped out Hamilton's best finish in months and comes just as Mercedes showed some new life and new pace in a season dominated by Verstappen and his Red Bull car. Hamilton had chased Verstappen to within 2.2 seconds of the winner at the finish line and may have caught if given a few extra laps.
“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.
The problem came in the post-race inspection when race stewards inspected the skid block. The wood resin block, or “plank” under the car is used to ensure teams follow the rules of how close they run the cars to the ground in search of better speed and performance.
It can also be considered a safety issue. And if the skid block is found to have been reduced by more than 1 millimeter, the car and driver are disqualified.
Hamilton and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who finished sixth, were both disqualified. Verstappen's car was also inspected and passed.
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff noted the bumpy conditions at the Circuit of the Americas that Hamilton and Verstappen said should be fixed, and the lack of car set-up time by teams on a sprint race weekend.
The disqualification announcement from race officials noted the Mercedes team argued the same issues with them in hopes of mitigating any penalty.
“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,” race officials said.
Wolff said Mercedes would not appeal the decision.
“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 said.
Hamilton's disqualification moved McLaren's Lando Norris from third to second. Ferrari's Carlos Sainz moved up one place to third.
Another benefactor of the disqualification was Williams driver Logan Sargeant. He moved up from 12th to 10th to earn his first point of the season.