Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2021

Hamilton under threat of being sent to back of grid over DRS fault in qualifying

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton is at risk of being excluded from the results of qualifying after his car failed a technical inspection.

Technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed his Mercedes did not comply with a technical directive relating to the operation of his Drag Reduction System.

The DRS overtaking aid works by allowing drivers to open their rear wings to reduce drag on the straights. The technical regulations specify the DRS flap may open by a maximum of 85 millimetres. According to Bauer, this limit was exceeded.

“The uppermost rear wing element adjustable positions were checked on car number 44 for compliance with Article 3.6.3 of the 2021 Formula 1 Technical Regulations,” Bauer noted. “The requirement for the minimum distance was fulfilled. But the requirement for the maximum of 85mm, when the DRS system is deployed and tested in accordance with TD/011-19, were not fulfilled.”

Bauer has referred the matter to the stewards. If upheld, technical infringements ordinarily result in drivers being excluded from qualifying, and having to start from the back of the grid.

Hamilton would therefore have to start Saturday’s sprint qualifying race from the back of the grid. He has already incurred a five-place penalty, for exceeding the maximum number of power unit elements, which will be applied to the starting grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

A Mercedes representative has been summoned to meet the stewards at 7:15pm local time.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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80 comments on “Hamilton under threat of being sent to back of grid over DRS fault in qualifying”

  1. Wow 😅

  2. Wow. In other words, Hamilton’s W12 DRS was opening way more than the limit allowed by the technical regulations. That is a massive gain on the speed trap, and that is definitely a penalty worthy for a back of the grid start.

    1. You know this how?

      1. “but the requirement for the maximum of 85mm, when the DRS system is deployed and tested in accordance with TD/011-19, were not fulfilled.”

        the ‘way more’ comment is founded on nothing, but the FIA are basically saying it was opening too wide.

        Just have to wait and see what the FIA say in terms of any sanction.

      2. @davidjwest

        Given that the issue is performance related and technical related, it is expected.

        1. It might be 1 mm out in which case negligible gains, it might be 3 metres out in which case pretty big gains. (OK so I exaggerated but you get the point)

          1. @davidjwest
            but rules are rules… if teams want to error they need to error below the 85mm’s. If we treat things like “guidelines” then we mines well let Ferrari use their controversial engine a couple years ago.

          2. 1mm on all the FIA regulations that require such tolerances would amount to a very large gain. So you can’t say 1mm isn’t big. It is. Lap times are deleted if a driver is 1mm over the white line. A line has to be drawn somewhere.

            Performance gain or loss isn’t relevant though. The car has to be compliant with the technical regulations, especially with regard to post-race scrutineering. Though It isn’t always black and white

            We’ll see anyway. Merc must have something to defend themselves with.

          3. Vettel was taken away their second place for a less infringement to the technical regulation

          4. There doesn’t need to be a tolerance, simply use some sort of go-no go gauge. If it fits in the opening you’ve violated the rules. Pretty simple. If you really want a tolerance then make it plus 0.000, minus whatever.

          5. Daniel Ricciardo has been excluded from the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying for exceeding the MGU-K power limit of 120kW which was worth a microsecond benefit in lap time 0″000001s.

        2. I think we can agree on that the bigger gap was by mistake/failure and not constructed with such intention, so I would also expect minimal gains from it. But that is irrelevant for the penalty.

          1. How come you say it was a mistake. That is a big a guess as saying it was done on purpose.

            I don’t agree the slightest on this. Not even whent I now the exact amount it openend.

            At this stage in the championship you can’t be sure about anything. The stakes are too high for that.

          2. @hannesch It is exactly because of the stakes. DRS is a part of the car that is checked regularly. It is also part of the car that is in plain sight – for everybody to see. It is unreasonable to think that a top team would increase the gap on purpose.

            I would also assume that had there been any suspicion – any team or FIA itself could also check DRS device on Bottas car.

          3. Well the stakes are high so if you think you can’t win square and fair you might seek other opportunities and this may be a simple way to go faster. Desperate times need desperate measures.

            On the other hand it is relatively easy to check and then you will get caught, sooner or later, since the car is park ferme now as well as after the sprint race so maybe 2 moments for checking and getting caught.

            I don’t know. But I wouldn’t bet anything for it. There is a thing about Toto where I just can’t see him being a fair looser. But that’s just my opinion.

          4. It’s absurd to say it’s on purpose. The car is scrutineered after the sessions so they were hoping the official would just forget her measuring tape today?

          5. Yes your argument on checking Bottas’ car makes sense and would clear out any suspicions.

          6. @faulty not necessarily. Hamilton would start Sunday’s race at least P6 or lower, which means they might have gone in a different setup direction where Bottas’ setup might not evoke the same DRS incompliance.

            Not that I’m saying it’s done on purpose, but there are differences between cars.

  3. Is it within “manufacturing tolerances”?

    1. @davidjwest
      “manufacturing tolerances”? The tolerance is a Maximum of 85mm and no more than that. Manufacturing tolerances are irrelevant here.

        1. @davidjwest
          That article (i remember vaugly this event) specifically said that the way the FIA measured it was incurrect for one. Second, the rules allowed for deviation. There is no allowable deviation beyond the 85mm in this technical rule. So I’m not sure why you used this as a form of reference.

          1. Because we don’t yet know the full facts here, possibly something similar applies.

          2. Actually, you need to listen to what Gary Anderson had to say about this case. It was a slam dunk illegal car and the disqualification should have been upheld. It was a complete farce that it was reinstated in the name of keeping the championship alive. Ultimately it cost Mclaren the constructors title and Stewart a double podium result.

          3. @davidjwest
            It is possible. I was just trying to understand your point of manufacturing tolerance as I’m not sure how that applies in this situation. The issue I see it that the mechanics just messed up here. I don’t believe it was intentional, if it was, it was really stupid of them to risk everything in that way.

    2. Well I would be interested to know whether it’s an adjustable system set at the track, or it’s non-adjustable and therefore a manufacturing fault.

  4. oops

  5. Every weekend Mercedes invent a new way of losing a championship.

    1. But the amount of luck never runs out at Hamiltons side. Firstly he will only get to the back of the sprint race. Had they done it any other weekend it would have been the back of the grid on Sunday. And then Max touches his rear wing and it will probably make it all go away.

      1. I don’t see how they can allow him to keep his qualifying result for the race when the car was illegal during qualifying.

  6. Hold up the fia report doesnt say whether the wing was opening more than 85 or that wing couldn’t get to 85! So you are incorrect when you say it was exceeded. It’s says there’s an issue but not exactly which way it goes

  7. So, starting last in the sprint, fighting for every position forwards only to be send backwards again. What a frustrating race weekend. If he gets it, there is no point in running in the sprint.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      13th November 2021, 2:14

      Yeah, there’s absolutely no point. If they’re forced, they should run 1 lap and retire.

      1. Probably even necessary because of the engine problems merc so obviously encountered fighting Honda.
        But still a completely car asking for a DQ. M

  8. Back of the grid, my a**. This is a straight DSQ in my book.

    1. Disagree here. DSQ for Qualy, yes. But not for the weekend. He should start last in sprint if this is true.

    2. Unfortunately F1 isn’t run to your book, but to its book of Technical Regulations. The stated penalty for this infringement is exclusion from qualifying, i.e. starting at the back.

      If the car had been fine in qualifying but this irregularity had been discovered after the race then yes, disqualification. But that isn’t what has happened. (I assume Mercedes will fix it before the sprint!)

    3. nobody cares about your book mate.

    4. Broadsword to Danny Boy
      13th November 2021, 9:08

      Which book is that?

      ‘Formula One with Dick and Jane’?

    5. Agreed, but Lewis fans only see a minor problem.
      Mercs illegality is always by accident. Lol

  9. Toto was right…speed was definitely not only down to the engine.

    1. +1 :D

  10. I understand it’s not the rules but it’s so important for the Championship. I hope the FIA understands.

    1. So breaking rules is an acceptable way to fight for the championship?

  11. How TF is this possible. Is MB really this desperate is it within the margins is it a mistake by the stewards is it a mistake by MB is it really happening. So many questions.

    1. Stressed mechanics with parts arriving late. Mistakes can happen. Components do fail as well.

    2. That’s what pressure does. When having to push the limits, occasionally they are exceeded.

  12. Monza, Turkey, now Brazil, how many times do Merc as a team need to mess up when they have the best car? It could and should be an easy 1-2 in all these races.

    1. Verstappen has just outqualified Bottas. So hardly.

      1. And Bottas car was not illegal.
        Telling

    2. It’s a funny thing

      You could see Hamilton came out to qualify on another ‘red bull’ track with the old ‘yep watch this laddies’ swagger and did the job in a way required of a champion given the ridiculous rules- this season screwed up qualifying sprint mess means that at best he starts sixth and….I think? A 38 year fan got lost here and I really should not have to.

      Oh my goodness that’s not by the book, can’t have that and let’ create lots of drama

      Let’s put him at the back

      Rossi 2015 anyone

      This season is an insult to proper fans starting at Spa

      Max has driven brilliantly so has Hamilton

      Don’t need this drama driven by funding

      1. Really not sure what you’re on about. There are rules and if you break them, you rightfully get appropriate punishment. Spa operated within the rules, and half points were awarded. And in case you think everything is in RBR’s favour, don’t forget that Hamilton managed to punt Verstappen out of Silverstone, get a relatively lenient penalty and still win, within the rules.
        Irrespective of the outcome, this is MBs own drama that they have created. Every other team seems to have kept their cars within the limits.

      2. Greetings.
        Exactly my feelings. When you witness unnecessary safety cars and red flags as well you will always be skeptical…
        Anyway, seems Adrian Newey and Paul Monaghan went to the FIA office to complain.

      3. This season certainly is an insult starting at Silverstone I would say. Hungary definitely sealed it as one of the most tainted. Should have been over already and not in Lewis favor. The amount of luck this man has had throughout his career is stunning and record worthy.

    3. The best car??? Red bull has the best car and lewis even said so in mexico, but lewis is getting a lot more out of the mercedes than anyone can really imagine. Look how far back bottas is behind lewis almost every race.
      Mistakes can happen, especially under the pressure all the F1 teams are under, what with parts and even cars and even wheel balancing weights turning up late.

      1. Look at the whole season, bottas isn’t doing worse than perez, so surely the car must be competitive on average.

  13. From the looks of things this is a straightforward case of exclusion from qualifying. If the car doesn’t conform to the Technical Regs then this is the only available penalty. Unless the stewards overrule the technical delegate for some reason and decide that his car is in fact legal, which seems unlikely.

    Hamilton is fortunate in a sense that it’s a sprint qualifying weekend, in that he will have an extra 100km to make up the deficit, albeit he’ll lose five of those at the end of the sprint thanks to his engine penalty.

  14. Sounds like a slam dunk penalty and that the championship is over. What a shame when it looked like it would go the distance

  15. He will probably be best skipping the sprint and starting from the pits on Sunday.

    1. Especially if he could stack up another PU/ICE, but I fear he can´t right?

      1. That’s a good point. Change the whole thing and crank it up for the remaining races if he does have to start from the pits. I hope Mercedes do t miss a trick there

        1. I would have thought if he doesn’t make much progress in the sprint race, he’ll change all the parts he can. Might as well do it if you can do it for free.

        2. Probably the only way they can win this season. But tainting the brand massively

      2. @Kotrba no he can’t use another ICE. Well, he can, but then next race he has to serve a new grid penalty for it.

  16. Got to find some way of making the sprint more exciting sp they can claim os an amazing awesome success.

  17. Keep an eye on the FIA website under the Brazilian Grand Prix section for the event documents

  18. How does this work then? Start from last in the sprint and then -5 positions from wherever he finishes? Very lucky boy to have this happen on a sprint race weekend as he could recover a decent amount of positions in the sprint.

    1. You have a strange idea of “lucky”.

      1. Yeah not overall but the fact this is a sprint weekend means he’s got a chance of not starting last. If he gets a good start, that could be a handful of positions already and then he’s got enough laps to get past another decent amount. If he gets up to 10th (which I wouldn’t say is impossible), he’ll start 15th instead of 20th. Another good start on Sunday and he could be not far off the points within the first few laps.

    2. Indeed, that wouldbe how the penalties would be applied.

    3. Well he’s going to have to recover at least 6 in the sprint for any actual gain so he’s probably best starting from the pits.

      1. I guess the sprint must’ve surprised you, no? I’ve seen people recover 15 places in a race, but not in a sprint race!

  19. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    12th November 2021, 23:00

    Can I then get my points for predicting Verstappen on pole? Seeing as Hamilton is, once again, driving in an illegal car?

  20. At least the DRS left him enough space.

  21. Will Max be forced to have a 1* on his car instead of a 1 next year?

    1. Yes, because silverstone, hungary and baku don’t make it a deserved championship ofc…

  22. I remember Kobayashi and Perez being disqualified from a race because the rear wings were slightly out of allowed spec. So if the stewards aren’t playing favourites he should be excluded from qualifying.

    Thats going to make for a very interesting sprint and race if true. The good thing is you can overtake in Brazil, but he’s going to need Divine intervention to get on the podium if he does get hit with a penalty.

  23. I thought I was going to read something about tyre pressures. Rear wing comes a bit as a surprise as I saw RB’s top flap fluttering at the end of the main straight, the type of issue nobody seens to care about.
    Mercs performance seems to tied to lower ambient temps and lower tyre pressures, perhaps it has something to do with floor aerodynamics.

  24. It’s funny the once invincible Mercedes now have to resort to new engine + cheating + mind games in order to beat a MV.

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