Mercedes technical director James Allison has explained why Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from last weekend’s race in Austin, admitting the whole ordeal left the team feeling “embarrassed”. What almost turned out to be the perfect weekend for Hamilton ended in misery when he had his second-place finish stripped away after a post-race inspection on his car from the stewards.
It’s only Hamilton’s second disqualification from a race in his 17 years competing in F1 with the other coming at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. The Brit had looked on course to close down Max Verstappen for his first victory in two years.
But the disqualification may end up costing him in his battle to finish ahead of Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ Championship. Hamilton is 39 points adrift of Perez with four races remaining, while Mercedes also need to fend off Ferrari in the final weeks of the season.
Alisson has explained exactly what caused Hamilton’s disqualification and admitted the team were “embarrassed” by the situation. However, the team have since moved on and are looking at the bigger picture after their upgrades in Austin.
“The skid blocks are basically little discs of metal that are put into the plank material,” he said on Mercedes’ debrief video on YouTube. “At the end of the race, there has to be a guaranteed thickness. They begin the race at 10mm thick and, by the time you get to the end of the race, they must be no less than 9 mm.
“You are allowed a certain amount of erosion of that skid block by touching the ground but no more than 1 mm, else if your car is inspected and found to be below that 9 mm then you will have been deemed to running your car too low and you’ll be disqualified. Indeed, that is what happened in our case.” He added: “Of course, the disqualification is a significant blow,” he said.
“It’s a miserable feeling. It hurts and everybody here feels it. Everybody is upset, and embarrassed to a degree as well because we absolutely don’t like being on the wrong side of the rules and just lamenting the lost points. Give it a day or two and that will start to wane and be replaced by the much happier feeling, which is we moved our car forward this weekend and that’s hard to do.
“But we did it and we did it by a decent amount. And with four races left in the championship, four races where I am sure we will stay on the right side of the skid block rules, the initial feeling of hurt, disappointment, and frustration will pass to be replaced by the sunny optimism of knowing that the car looked bright on this upgrade package and we’ve got four more races to show what we can do with it.”
Mercedes will be hoping to get back on track this weekend at the Mexican Grand Prix.