Disqualification was embarrassing but “understandable mistake” – Mercedes

Formula 1

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Mercedes admit they were embarrassed by Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification in the United States Grand Prix, but remain confident in their latest upgrade package.

Hamilton lost his second place finish at the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday after the stewards discovered his plank had worn below the legal minimum.

Technical director James Allison said “the weekend was a very cast iron vote of confidence in favour of the stuff we put on the car” in a video released by the team. He said a set-up error arising from the bumpy nature of the Austin track and the limited practice time available on the sprint race weekend led to the rules breach.

“Normally in a race weekend you have three untimed sessions, free practice, one, two and three, in which you gradually hone the set-up of the car, getting it ready for the qualifying on the Saturday and the race on the Sunday. In that period of practice, what you’re trying to do is get the car fast, reliable and legal, making sure that you’re ticking all the boxes that enable the car to get through to the end of the weekend fast and good when you go in to parc ferme.

“At a sprint weekend, you are under much more pressure. You have just a solitary hour. The very front of the weekend, free practice one, where you have to get the car ready for the next session, which is qualifying, the next session, which is sprint [qualifying], the next session, which is the sprint race, and then the race itself.

“So after that one hour, basically you have cast your die, you have chosen your set-up and you have then got to run the rest of the weekend with the bets you placed in that one hour of running. Much, much less time to assess things than normal. And much less time to make corrective action ahead of the sort of paying sessions later in the weekend.”

The team was confident in its plank wear forecast after the first practice session, said Allison. “When we’d done our set-up, we checked the plank, it all looked fine. [It was] really untouched after that free practice one running. But the results of the race speak for themselves.

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“We were illegal at the end of the race and clearly we should have had our car set a little bit higher up to give ourselves just a little bit more margin. It’s, of course, a mistake. It’s an understandable sort of mistake in a sprint weekend where it’s so much harder to get that stuff right, especially on a bumpy track. But a lesson for us in the future, to make sure that we take more margin, especially at a track like that with all of its bumps.”

Allison admitted the team “simply didn’t take enough margin” with its plank wear, and the news of the disqualification hit them hard. “Of course the disqualification is a significant blow. It’s a miserable feeling. It hurts.

“Everybody here feels it, everybody would be upset, embarrassed to a degree as well because we absolutely don’t like being the wrong side of the rules and just lamenting the lost points. So that’s the sort of immediate feeling.”

However they remain confident the upgrade package they introduced in Austin is a significant step forwards. “We moved our car forward this weekend and it’s hard to do that, it’s hard to do it, but we did it and we did it by decent amount.

“With four races left in the championship, four races where I’m pretty sure we will stay on the right side of the skid block rules, we will nevertheless have the uplift that we gave to our car. And so the initial feeling of a sort of hurt and disappointment and and frustration ourselves will pass to be replaced by the sort of sunny optimism of knowing that the car looked bright on this upgrade package. And we got four races to show what we can do with it.”

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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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9 comments on “Disqualification was embarrassing but “understandable mistake” – Mercedes”

  1. Parc ferne coming in after just an hour of running on Friday seems so dumb.

    It just means that any error is carried all weekend which I’d argue isn’t a positive fir the racing (If you want more actual competition) and as in this case you have 2 teams who had drivers running the rest of the weekend for ultimately no reason.

    There’s no reason for parc ferme so early in the weekend. Just let teams tinker with setups right up until the start of the GP so we get to see cars optimised for racing rather than compromised for ‘the show’.

    1. @PeterG
      But that is exactly what the change was supposed to do. Limit testing so we would have more ‘surprises’ up and down the field. Spice it up for the new fans! You just spent time watching an exciting end to a GP? Well, surprise surprise, it was all for nothing! The rule has the desired outcome!

      1. Yes, there’s good and bad surprises in a race, imo in such a season, red bull’s singapore performance is of the good kind and this dq is of the bad kind.

    2. As you can read after the 1 hour of pratice there was no damage on the floor at all. So understandable they were caught after the race starting with full fuel tank hitting the curbs can reduce your skit blocks very fast.

      That was also the reason Red Bull went for more riding height then normal.

    3. Agreed, these sprint weekends are an handicap especially when they are introduce on an unfamilar circuit, or as here, a circuit which demands you tune the car to the conditions. It makes he races a complete lottery.

  2. yeah, its actually dangerous, apparently.

    and why does noone talk about the damage to these guys spines ? all those millions and they cant leave the tracks in a better and safer state for the guys risking their health.

  3. The fact that the track itself is not in Parc fermé show how unjust modern F1 truly is. As we have heard so many time recently, “It is a show”.

    1. The new owners can’t tell the differencce between a sport and a show, or as here, a farce.

  4. What a mucking fuddle… to quote The Two Ronnies.

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