Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were both disqualified, having failed a post-race scrutineering check at the United States Grand Prix.
Both cars were referred before the stewards at the Circuit of The Americas, having failed a post-race technical check, with both drivers losing their points-paying positions.
Hamilton, who finished in second place and challenged for the race win, as well as Leclerc, who claimed sixth place for Ferrari, have now had their results scrapped as a result.
Why were Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc under investigation?
The two drivers were referred to the stewards by FIA Technical Delegate Jo Bauer, following a post-race check on the planks underneath their cars.
“A physical floor and a plank wear inspection was carried out on car numbers 16 and 44,” said a statement from Bauer.
“The skids located in the area -825 ≥ XR ≥ – 1025 are found to be not in compliance with Article 3.5.9 e) of the 2023 Formula One Technical Regulations.
“I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration.”
The relevant section of the Technical Regulations lays out what is expected of the cars to be in conformity with the rules.
“The thickness of the plank assembly measured normal to the lower surface must be 10mm ± 0.2mm and must be uniform when new,” states Article 3.5.9. (e).
“A minimum thickness of 9mm will be accepted due to wear, and conformity to this provision will be checked at the peripheries of the designated holes.”
A team representative from both Mercedes and Ferrari visited the stewards to put forward their arguments, with the stewards deliberating for about 90 minutes before reaching a verdict to disqualify both cars.
The result promotes Lando Norris to second, with Carlos Sainz moving up to claim third place and another podium place. More pertinently for the championship, Hamilton’s disqualification and Sergio Perez’s promotion to a net P4 means he now has a 39-point lead over Hamilton with four race weekends remaining.
Excessively bumpy surface at the Circuit of The Americas to blame?
A culprit for the issue was the excessive bumpiness of the tarmac at the Circuit of The Americas, something which the leading drivers highlighted in the post-race press conference.
“Yeah, it needs to be redone,” Max Verstappen said.
“Because, at the moment, it feels like it’s better suited to a rally car. I’m jumping and bouncing around. In an F1 car, probably you don’t even see it as much because we are glued to the ground because of the downforce, but the bumps and jumps that we have in some places are way too much. I don’t think it’s F1 level.
“I love this track, honestly, the layout is amazing. But we definitely need new tarmac and it needs to be a lot smoother for the coming years because we have already asking for this for quite a few years and it’s not really been done.”
Hamilton himself addressed the excessive bumpiness, explaining that he agreed with Verstappen.
“I like some of the bumps because it adds character to a circuit, but there are way too many,” he said.
“As drivers and the GPDA, we’re open to discussing with them and helping them like maybe not doing the whole thing so it costs a fortune.
“From the last corner to the start line, for example, that’s smooth, but then the rest of it is bumpy. But there are other areas that they could patch up.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes was fitted with a new-spec floor upgrade for the United States GP weekend, one which the seven-time World Champion explained on Friday that he felt had been a big step forward.
“The floor is not a huge amount different,” he said. “There’s always hype with someone’s upgrade, but the rest of the car is exactly the same and there’s lots and lots of areas in which we can improve.
“But this is an improvement, this is one of the first upgrades that I’ve actually felt over the last two years.”