Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff break silence on United States GP disqualification

Michelle Foster
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton with his hands on his head.

Lewis Hamilton puts a hand to his head.

Losing his runner-up result at the United States Grand Prix after his W14 failed a floor and plank inspection, Lewis Hamilton says it does not take away from the progress Mercedes made in Austin.

Debuting their last big upgrade for this season at the Circuit of The Americas, Hamilton and George Russell’s cars were fitted with new floors.

Hamilton declared on Friday that he “felt” the impact it was having and promptly qualified third, 0.139s off pole position.

Lewis Hamilton’s plank was below the mandated minimum thickness of 9mm

He went on to finish the Grand Prix in second place having chased down Max Verstappen to enter the conversation for the race win.

Alas, it all came to naught when, 90 minutes after the Grand Prix, he was disqualified for excessive plank wear.

The FIA said that while Mercedes mitigated that it was “probably a result of the unique combination of the bumpy track”, the stewards noted that the “onus is on the competitor to ensure that the car is in compliance with the regulations at all times during an event.”

“It is of course disappointing to be disqualified post-race,” said Hamilton in Mercedes’ post-race debrief, “but that doesn’t take away from the progress we’ve made this weekend.”

He added: “We had good pace and I was feeling great in the car. It was tough racing those around me as they were so quick, but we can be happy with many things.

“I feel positive as we’re moving forward, even if reflecting on it we could have possibly won.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 2023: Head-to-head qualifying and race stats between team-mates

F1 race wins: Which drivers have the highest win totals in F1 history?

Mercedes ‘got it wrong’

Hamilton’s W14’s plank was found to be less than the mandated minimum thickness of 9mm with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also falling foul of the regulation.

Mercedes motorsport Toto Wolff accepts it was a set-up issue, and admits they got it wrong.

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

“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.”

Like Hamilton, Wolff also believes there are a lot of positives Mercedes can take away from their COTA performance.

“We can take a lot of positives from the car performance,” he said. “We hate coming so close to winning and falling short.

“But this is a circuit where only a few races ago we wouldn’t have performed well because of the fast, sweeping corners.

“The upgrade seems to have made the car happier in those areas and it is working well. Directionally, it’s a very good sign.”

The disqualification is a blow to Hamilton’s hopes of chasing down Sergio Perez for second in the Drivers’ standings with the Red Bull driver’s advantage up to 39 points.

Read next: US Grand Prix conclusions: Resist Verstappen call, Mercedes’ eureka moment?