Mercedes explain rear wing fault which led to Hamilton’s disqualification in Brazil

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Mercedes has explained why Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing failed a technical inspection in qualifying at Interlagos, leading to him being disqualified and having to start the sprint qualifying race from the back of the grid.

Team principal Toto Wolff said the wing was damaged when two screws came undone during the session.

Hamilton’s rear wing failed a test to determine it opened by no more than 85 millimetres when its DRS was activated. Mercedes said it failed the test by just 0.2 millimetres.

The rear wing from Hamilton’s car was kept by scrutineers during the Brazilian Grand Prix and returned to the team ahead of this weekend’s race in Qatar. “We got the rear wing back and as we thought it was broken,” Wolff explained. “It broke in qualifying

“We didn’t pass the 85mm slot gap test on the far right side. We passed it on the left, in the middle, but not on the right by a fraction of a millimetre. And that’s fine.

“We weren’t allowed to inspect it, not to make the argument that the part is being broken and consequently, we found out that two screws became undone in qualifying and that caused that right side to be irregular.”

The damage likely “was even detrimental to the lap time but it is what it is,” Wolff added.

He remains unhappy that the team were thrown out of qualifying instead of being allowed to repair their wing. “It was reported to the stewards, that is very different to how these things were handled in the past, where you would be able to patch up things that got broken during parc ferme.”

However, he said the team had “moved on” and that the incident was “a race gone.” Hamilton rose from last to fifth in the sprint qualifying race, then won the grand prix the next day.

“We obviously were able to turn it around,” Wolff continued. “I wish that Lewis could have taken more points from the sprint qualifying, but that is the past.

“I think now the the rules are in a way a reset and we’re going to do the best out of it for the current grand prix and the next ones to come.”

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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65 comments on “Mercedes explain rear wing fault which led to Hamilton’s disqualification in Brazil”

  1. No problem whatsoever here.

    Tech regs, by their very definition need to be black and white, no grey area to discourage teams seeking ways to bend the rules even further. It doesn’t matter if it failed by 0.1mm or 10mm, it failed.

    It was not Force majeure, it was not an issue caused by a foreign object striking the rear wing, it was screws that backed themselves out. That’s not damage, that’s improper parts installation and entirely on them. Harsh, but ultimately fair DSQ.

    1. @mrcento hey horner is that you? why did you flap was damaged if it was up to standard? why were you allowed to change it not once but three times in a row? mind if you explain for us earthling your logic?

      1. Because it made the test.

      2. @mysticus Did they ever change their rear wings in parc ferme?

        1. @mashiat

          A document released by the FIA just before the race clearly listed that the “rear wing upper flap” and “rear wing flap snubber” were among the parts which Red Bull changed on Verstappen’s challenger under parc ferme conditions at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

        2. the very same upper flap mercedes punished for, was repaired by redbul under parc ferme before the race after the quali

          1. @mysticus – Why is that relevant? It passed the test and as it was broken, they asked for and were given permission to fix it. Mercedes’ wing failed the test so it was removed.

          2. @petebaldwin verbal garbage more? how is it tested while broken? if it passed the test than why need to fix? it should be working as intended! moreso, if it is fit for duty, why is it failing 4 times in a row now? doesnt it look suspicious? they tape over a place where merc wing supposedly failed the test? while mercedes’ repeated request to check the part, it was deemed illegal? it couldnt be damaged? it had to be designed that way? while never failing once before, it is super suspicious, yet redbul failing 4 times in a row is perfectly ok… if it is so perfect, why is it fluttering like a hummingbird? so many question marks over redbul’s wing failure, yet nothing is suspicous, merc has one fail, instant ban! as with recent trend on FIA’s attitude toward redbul vs merc shows great balance!

          3. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
            20th November 2021, 9:15

            @petebaldwin so elements are expected to still pass the test even after they’ve failed? That would be madness, don’t be so silly.

          4. @mysticus ” if it passed the test then […] it should be working as intended” — This is where you are wrong. A part can be damaged and still conform to regulations.

          5. @krommenaas
            If it conforms to regulations why the need the change it? Just tape over the imperfections. Right?

            If it passes all tests, not one all tests, than it is fit for duty why change a perfectly capable part?

            4 times in a row exact same parts failing is just a coincidence and plain fail, but Mercedes whose same part never failed before, was intentionally designed to fail?

            Perfectly sensible argument? Great logic!

            As I replied before. This pattern is almost like party wing for practice and quali, and race wing for race. You got a better explanation? I am all ears. Because it looks like they re trying some sort of cheat design but hasn’t perfected it yet, and hiding behind as usual oops it just failed, we re totally innocent. God forbid if anyone else fails they are 1000% intentional.

          6. The argument is that after a few quali laps the part fails or after handful of test laps it fails, but when changed for race it works like magic! They are magicians. Ey?

          7. @mysticus: “If it conforms to regulations why the need the change it? ”

            Because it is damaged.

            Damaged parts that are still within regulations, can be replaced.

            Damaged parts that are not within regulations, get sanctioned.

            What’s so hard to understand about this?

          8. @mysticus: “4 times in a row exact same parts failing is just a coincidence and plain fail, but Mercedes whose same part never failed before, was intentionally designed to fail?”

            You don’t seem to understand how regulations work. It doesn’t matter if parts failing is a coincidence or not. It only matters whether it’s within regulations or not.

          9. @krommenaas nobody understand apart from max fans and his fia counterparts to be honest, not surprised at all on your response. it is expected

    2. You can’t check a Broken Mechanical Part for Compliance.

      It’s Broken.. 🤣🤣🤣

      1. yes you can check it for compliance, it is instant ban, if it didnt work as intended. just like they deemed on mercedes car. instant ban. whereas in redbul cases there is always an excuse. i hope redbul rear wing comes off completely or disintegrate mid race to stop the mercedes illegal argument.

        1. And still making things up as you go I see :)

      2. Just to be fair, any part that’s not compliant is broken!

        1. @macademianut it is broken only on a redbul and normal procedure is to replace the whole thing with a new one, everyone else’s called an illegal part, and requires an instant ban. that much is a fact for sure now. just like if anyone other than redbul pushes someone else even unintended, it is instant penalty within a few laps, if it s a max car of redbul, it is hard racing and no evidence can be found for days and even found will be instantly rejected for review despite saying a lot of harsh things about it obviously jokingly…

      3. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
        20th November 2021, 9:16

        +1

  2. When teams are allowed to repair/replace parts in parc fermé, those parts have passed all the tests already.
    If that is not the case, I would like to know those times when parts did not pass scrutineer tests and no penalty was issued.

    1. “I would like to know those times when parts did not pass scrutineer tests and no penalty was issued.” you cant know, if it is not allowed to be reviewed… simple ask Masi if you are not sure

  3. Mercedes said it failed the test by just 0.2 millimetres.

    If Mercedes continue to make nonsense statements, why would I care to value anything they choose to publish?

    1. Why indeed

    2. So we’re talking about a fifth of the width of the letter I in your ‘If’ = worth sending a driver back 19 places.
      Driving metres outside the track to defend. OK.

      I mean, just throwing out the comparison there.

      1. Yes – a fifth of the width of the letter I is worth sending a driver back 19 places. It’s a technical regulation and you either pass it or you fail it. If you’re a tiny bit underfuelled at the end of a race or a tiny bit underweight, the same thing happens.

        You’re comparing sporting regulations with technical regulations – they’re looked at by different people using different methodology. I think Max should have been given a penalty but the two situations aren’t really comparible.

        It’s like saying “the referee sent someone off when he’d only committed a few fouls. That’s not fair, the other player got banned for 2 years and he only took a few performance enhancing drugs.”

        1. “It’s a technical regulation and you either pass it or you fail it.”

          also its a regulation that deliberate crowding other drivers off the track is not allowed, or driving erratically is not allowed, or gaining a lasting advantage by driving off track is not allowed. Remember what happened in Brazil T4 ?

          1. The difference is between qualitative and quantitative rules. The crowding rule is qualitative, so open to interpretation. The tech regs are quantitative, the result of precise measurement – there’s no subjectivity involved. So a violation is an automatic punishment – there’s no option for discretion.

        2. @petebaldwin
          your logic flawed
          if a part passes the tests, why is it deemed damaged? how a part thats is damaged passes a test? also why are they doing only the gap test, if the load test is gonna fail that part (regardless of the damage) it should pass, obviously it will not pass and need to change the part otherwise why would anyone change a part that is passing all the tests (loads/gaps/deflections etc)?

          fuel test is different to mechanical parts! you cant compare the two. redbul while passing tests in the past found to be hiding secrets/cheats in their perfect car parts! what makes you think that 4 in a row fail is not indication of some sort of try for a cheat that is not yet perfected hence the constant failures? could it be that it was related to certain flex due to lack of proper testing procedures? that was giving them an advantage that has been taken away ? and now they re trying a different cheat but keep failing? i dont buy redbul excuse that their part is just failing and they dont know why, it is very obvious they re testing some waters, and hiding it in plain site and hoping noone sees it! thats why they re deflecting attention to mercedes to get theirs swept under rugs…

          1. For instance, if a wing has 12 screws and 2 threads are erased, the part needs replacement as it is faulty , to prevent a major failure that could potentially fail a test I the next sesión. ;)

          2. if a part passes the tests, why is it deemed damaged?

            What’s so hard to understand about that? Take a front wing, have a little excursion or a hit on one of the higher curbs that leads to a load outside your design envelope without even necessarily parts flying off.

            That thing is perfectly legal, yet damaged, and can be replaced, like-for-like, with permissions from the FIA.

          3. @Paul

            what is so hard to understand? a team’s wing passing all test bar one on one side by 0.2mm, they confirm it is a damaged or loose screw of some sort… nah we dont care…

            same part failing 4 times in a row, and you think this part should pass all the test? to make matters worse for your argument sake. the very same parts failing on reds on only handful of laps in practice or a few laps in quali, but whatever magic tape/glue they use lasts the whole race, but then again fails next race practice/quali sessions… that cant be normal! If that same part fails again next week, will you try to be smart again saying things about FIA again? i m quite confident that same part will fail again next week, lets see. it is always innocent ooops by reds, but standard for everyone else is stick to the rules.

        3. @petebaldwin

          also let this sink in for a sec! their wings failing 4 times in a row, after a handful of laps in practice sessions, in a quali, only after a few laps… they declare damage and get a new part (has to be identical right?) how is the identical part not failing after a full race? does it not sound like something fishy? does it not sound like they are using some “party wing” for quali, and “race wing” for the race? there is def something going on, and FIA should be clever enough to pick up on this, but only merc’ wing is picked up that has never failed before like this?

    3. Please show where I can find the proof it’s a nonsense statement?
      It was stated last Saturday by dhy commentators snd toto. But, I would be interested to see your source.

      1. Mercedes failed a test that is measuring a force.

        One cannot fail a force “by just 0.2mm.”

        1. @proesterchen Sorry, but you have it all wrong.

          Hamilton’s Mercedes failed scrutineering because the DRS gap in the rear wing was marginally too wide along one part of the wing. The test is a measurement of distance, in mm. Where the wing failed the test, it was found to be 85.2mm wide rather than the maximum permitted 85mm. We are not talking about the rear wing deflection test, that’s not what Hamilton was DQed for.

          Stewards ruling:
          https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2021%20Brazilian%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Offence%20-%20Car%2044%20-%20DRS.pdf

          Youtube video showing how the gap is measured (from 1m:10s):
          https://youtu.be/vpu-Aboeicw?t=70

          1. The maximum gap is measured, in accordance with TD/011-19, by pushing an 85mm gauge against the gap with a maximum load of 10N (ten newtons.) If the gauge goes through then the car has failed the test. In this case, the gauge would not pass through at the inner section of the wing, but did at the outer section of the wing.

            Thanks for linking the ruling, even if you haven’t read or remembered its contents.

      2. It was stated last Saturday by dhy (sic) commentators

        You’re taking statements by those two numpties Croft and Kravitz as fact? That’s hilarious.

  4. It was reported to the stewards, that is very different to how these things were handled in the past, where you would be able to patch up things that got broken during parc ferme.

    Here’s the smokescreen that their followers blindly keep believing and shouting about. You’re allowed to repair it and avoid penalty if the damage cannot possibly offer an advantage, as a commenter above said, due to force majeure. Of course in that case instead, this type of “damage” or malfunction was their fault, not on-track accident, and could offer an advantage which a rear wing cracked or torn part absolutely never would.
    And so they try to bunch up together all fallacies and excuses possible to pretend that they were wronged, as always.

  5. I thought it only failed when the measuring device was pushed through the gap? Surely if you have to push something through the gap then it would only open up enough to allow the object through?

    So the 0.2mm thing isn’t really important. They tried with something 85mm and it went through when the relevant force was applied. It was never going to open more than the side of the item.

    (Btw I don’t think they should have been disqualified. Parts fail and are replaced before scrutineerijg regularly if they’re identical parts)

    1. The device was shown on sky f1 on Saturday. It measures in Newton meter so you can calculate how far it was out.
      It was full explained on the Saturday.

      1. Actually it measures in Newtons (a measure of force), not, as the numpty commentator called it, Newton metres (a measure of torque or energy). The stewards specifically say the 85mm device went through when pushed with less than 10 Newtons of force and not that it went through with .2mm clearance, nor that it went through with no force at all.

  6. All TD’s shall allow no leeway or discrepancies and will be fully enforced…. Oh wait

    https://www.racefans.net/2007/04/05/grand-prix-flashback-malaysia-1999/

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7055644.stm

    James Hunt Spanish GP 1976

  7. Imma send them a tube of threadlock I use on my bike.

    1. For stuff that’s not exposed to the elements use Nail Varnish, if you later need to undue it use Nail Varnish Remover….

  8. Mercedes should have just put tape on it, that’s obviously been deemed to be ok under parc ferme. ;)

    1. Ahah, true.

    2. A person somewhere
      20th November 2021, 9:42

      If the tape had been more than 0.2mm thick and applied in the correct place before the test, then it might indeed have been deemed ok ;)

  9. the team had “moved on”

    But Toto hasn’t 😁

  10. Man, this beating a dead horse is really getting old. Can we please move on?

  11. Haha 2 screws …….. right…..

  12. Hmmm. With this and Verstappen non-ruling, F1 is looking a bit of a joke now.

  13. The only source for this 0.2mm is Mercedes, not the most trustworthy source. Is there any official FIA statement on this?

    1. This is the relevant quote from the FIA:

      The maximum gap is measured, in accordance with TD/011-19, by pushing an 85mm gauge against the gap with a maximum load of 10N (ten newtons.) If the gauge goes through then the car has failed the test. In this case, the gauge would not pass through at the inner section of the wing, but did at the outer section of the wing.

      That nonsense statement is all Mercedes PR.

      1. A person somewhere
        20th November 2021, 9:45

        Nothing in that quote precludes it opening to 85.2mm when the test was applied, it merely states that the 85mm gauge passed through the gap. The wing could have opened to 85.000001mm, 86mm, 500mm – that statement doesn’t provide any information beyond that it must have been > 85mm.

        1. Mercedes claiming to have failed a test of force by a unit of distance is the reason their statement is nonsense.

          1. A person somewhere
            20th November 2021, 10:38

            The test is that it opens by no more than 85mm, because that is the size of the probe, when the probe is applied with a force of 10 newtons. If it opened by 85.2mm under a force of 10 netwons or less then the test would be failed, because the probe would fit through.

            You can doubt the truthfulness of their “0.2mm” claim, or question how they measured it, but to claim it is nonsense is to betray a profound lack of understanding / reading comprehension on your part.

          2. @A person somewhere

            The FIA have provided a clear description of the test that Mercedes failed last week, which I have quoted above. This test does not measure the size of an opening. This test measures a force and a force only.

            The truthfulness of the claim doesn’t even enter the conversation as it is fundamentally nonsensical.

  14. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    20th November 2021, 9:09

    Something smells a bit fishy –

    (1) the stewards accept that car 44 conformed with the regs at the start of qualifying
    (2) the stewards accept that an element of the rear wing failed during qualification
    (3) the stewards accept that Mercedes weren’t deliberately seeking a performance advantage
    (4) the stewards appear to accept that the failure did not confer a performance advantage as it only moved 0.2mm on one side of the wing. Clearly it didn’t confer an advantage, Wolff claims it was disadvantageous, although at 0.2mm the +/- shouldn’t be measurable.

    Surely Mercedes should have been allowed to replace the broken element without penalty? That would have been fair and sporting. Red Bull were allowed to replace 3 separate wing elements without penalty.

    No only did the FIA refuse to allow Mercedes to replace the broken element, they refused to allow them to inspect it. What if the same failure had occurred during the race? Hamilton would have been disqualified due to a recurrent fault which Mercedes had not been allowed to diagnose or fix. How is that fair?

    Something has gone seriously wrong with the stewarding at Interlagos.

    1. Mercedes failed the post-qualifying test and were punished in accordance with the rules of the championship they have decided to enter.

      That is all.

  15. If the Mercedes team had noticed the damage after setting the laps in qualifying but before the end of the session they would in theory be able to fix or tape up whatever like red bull have been doing – then they would not have been found illegal by the scrutineering.
    Debatable whether it made any difference to lap time. The damage could have happened on the in lap, or they could have ran fastest lap (or part of it) with the “illegal” increased gap in the wing.
    To me its just unlucky as to when the damage occurred leaving no time to notice the problem.

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