Mercedes “take it on the chin” as disqualification costs Hamilton second place

Formula 1

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Mercedes accepted the FIA’s decision to disqualify Lewis Hamilton from the United States Grand Prix due to excessive plank wear on his car.

Hamilton originally finished the race in second place, equalling his best result of the season so far. However a post-race technical inspection found the plank on the underside of his floor had worn away more than it was allowed to.

Team principal Toto Wolff said the error occured as a result of the difficulty of choosing the correct set-up for the bumpy circuit with only an hour of practice time available.

“Set-up choices on a sprint weekend are always a challenge with just one hour of free practice,” he said, “and even more so at a bumpy circuit like COTA and running a new package.

“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.”

Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said they were “naturally very disappointed” with the outcome.

“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.”

Hamilton had enjoyed the team’s strongest performance of the season so far, finishing just two seconds off race winner Max Verstappen.

Despite the disqualification, Shovlin feels Mercedes “can afford to be cautiously optimistic” about the progress they have made.

“Both drivers felt the improvement and it is positive for our development trajectory for 2024. Whilst we are disappointed with the ultimate outcome today, we can be encouraged by the pace shown.”

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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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14 comments on “Mercedes “take it on the chin” as disqualification costs Hamilton second place”

  1. I think this is an extremely frustrating result for Mercedes and Ferrari. The race is held on a circuit which isn’t suitable for these cars, but the Stewards hold the teams responsible for that, not the circuit owner. In this instance two drivers who got well deserved places have been disqualified simply because of the poor track surface.
    On a Sprint weekend the plank on a car doesn’t just have to last through Qualifying and the Race, it also has to last through the Sprint Qualifying and the Sprint Race as well.
    If you have a bumpy circuit like this one then maybe a better option for teams is to reconsider whether or not to compete in the Sprint Race. I suspect if Lewis and Charles had withdrawn from the Sprint Shoot out and Sprint Race then their cars would have passed the Post Race inspection.
    Under parc ferme conditions you are supposed to be allowed to replace identical parts on a car, why can’t the plank be replaced as well?

    1. Yes on the last point you can replace damaged parts like for like. Teams can argue that the wear is damage from unusual bumps or curbs and ask to change the plank under this allowance. I wonder if any have considered that this weekend or if they just missed that idea. I’ll post my CV for teams to review and make salary offers.

      1. Indeed, teams can, and do, replace damaged parts. Everyone will have looked at the plank all during FP1 (I just saw a short video where Ferrari had their representative state that they kept cranking the cars higher during that session to avoid being too low, and mentioned that in hindsight it just was not enough, and also that the wind might have played an extra factor in wear), and everyone would have checked it after the sprint – afterall there was a reason why AM changed Alonsos car considerably to be higher, I’ve seen it mention that both AM and HAAS saw a lot of plank wear and that was one of the reasons why they decided to work on the cars and start from the pitlane.

    2. Robert Henning
      23rd October 2023, 9:52

      They should just run their car higher Stephen. Stop making excuses. Both teams likely chose low ride heights chasing performance and subsequently got disqualified. You don’t need to look any further than Red Bull’s ride height to confirm this.

      1. ^^^^

      2. +1
        if at least 2 teams were able to comply, there is no reason why others would not.

      3. You don’t need to look any further than Red Bull’s ride height to confirm this.

        Lower than other teams, according to the technical analysts.
        Look around, and you will find references to the “excellent anti-dive” aspects of the RBR suspension “allowing them to run the car lower” without bottoming to the degree other teams have.

        Note: That’s not illegally low, as measured by the FIA, it’s lower than other teams can currently do without bottoming out.

        1. dont bother the distractors with facts. they only want to spread their biased hate

          1. Robert Henning
            23rd October 2023, 22:04

            Touch grass Mad I know everything Max. You need a good dose of reality.

        2. Robert Henning
          23rd October 2023, 22:03

          What’s your point SteveP?

          You’re saying RB has designed a better car?

          Do you have an issue with that? Then I think you’ll have to live with that.

          1. You’re saying RB has designed a better car?

            Just takes the right amount of money…

            Do you have an issue with that? Then I think you’ll have to live with that.

            Everyone’s working on it, inside the budget cap.

    3. But…

      …Red Bull and McLaren got it right.

      1. I mean, only 4 cars got tested. Perez and Piastri could both have ended up with excess wear. By your statement you could ague Mercedes and Ferrari got it right as Russell and Sainz are still placed.

        They deserved to be DQ but I’m surprised it’s only a small selection inspected.

  2. I’m obviously not a native speaker, but to me take it on the chin sounds like: they’re dealing with bad news but since they’re strong and resilient, they’ll persevere…

    But actually, they ran their car illegally low and got caught. So a better analogy would be: to take it on their bare bottoms!

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