Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes the FIA overlooked many cars which would have failed the same inspection as Lewis Hamilton’s at the end of the United States Grand Prix.Charles Leclerc was also disqualified from seventh place.
However 13 cars which finished the race were not subjected to the same inspection. Hamilton said yesterday he believes many of those cars were also outside the rules, a view Wolff said he shares.
“That’s the feedback we got from the other teams,” Wolff told Sky. “Obviously they’re chatting with each other, the drivers, and also on a management level. I think many many teams were probably under the nine mil[limetres].”
Mercedes introduced a new floor design for their car last weekend. Wolff said the sprint race format, which limits teams to a single practice session, made it difficult to judge whether they had got their car’s ride height correct with the new design.
“The problem with the sprint races is the car goes into parc ferme and you can’t adjust it any more,” he said. “We thought on Saturday that it could be on the limit but probably with a little bit of a margin.
“But we had a new floor, we got more downforce. Probably also in the sprint race we didn’t run as much non-DRS laps which smashed the floor more so it was the stars were not aligned.”
The new floor “played an element”, he added “we got more downforce, which is the positive, and you’re smashing the car on the bumps a little bit more.”
He is convinced the problem won’t recur over the remaining races. “It was absolutely specific [to Austin] and also because of the sprint race weekend so we were more cautious now we have the data and we probably can adjust a little bit.”
However he defended the team’s aggressive approach to maximising its new floor design, after Hamilton finished closer to Max Verstappen than he had all season.
“I would take the same thing [again] and I would also take the disqualification because we got it wrong. I take a disqualification running for a race win and seeing the performance against running P3 and ending up 25 seconds adrift. So every day of the week, I’ll go through the disqualification.”
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