“Everybody is upset, embarrassed to a degree”, said Mercedes chief James Allison following the disqualification of Hamilton after the Austin Grand Prix.
Hamilton originally finished the race in P2, clinching his sixth podium in the 2023 F1 season. Four hours after the race, when interviews and podium celebrations were long over, the FIA announced the disqualification of him and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.Embed from Getty Images
Four cars were chosen at random by the FIA to be investigated after the race. While Max Verstappen’s Red Bull and Lando Norris’ McLaren both passed the checks, Hamilton and Leclerc failed during a physical floor and plank wear inspection.
The plank is a rectangular formed, wooden part, which is located beneath the centre of the car. It is supposed to ensure that there is a certain amount of ground clearance to the track.Embed from Getty Images
They have been a part of the regulations since the 1994 season, following the death of three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna.
In Article 3.5.9e of the FIA regulations, it says that the plank needs to be at least 9mm thick and 300mm wide and must lay from between the front wheels to the back of the car.
Both car’s plank was thinner than 9mm and although this is not a frequently occurring issue, the reason for this error could be simple.
The technical team that inspected Hamilton’s car said that there is a possibility, he started the Grand Prix within the regulations but as the track was fairly bumpy, the plank could have worn off during the race.
The only other driver who ever got disqualified for the same offence was Michael Schumacher in 1994 after the Belgian Grand Prix.Embed from Getty Images
The disqualifications resulted in Lando Norris being promoted to P2 and Carlos Sainz coming P3. Hamilton on the other side lost important points regarding the Drivers World Championship, where he is currently fighting for second place against Sergio Perez. Perez came fourth and extended his lead to 39 points.
Hamilton himself reacted in an optimistic way: “It is of course disappointing to be disqualified post-race, but that doesn’t take away from the progress we’ve made this weekend”.