By Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent, Austin
Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from second place in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix for driving an illegal car when stewards declared nearly four hours after the chequered flag that its machinery did not comply with the regulations.
It had been the British seven-time world champion’s most competitive race of the season – and one he claimed he should have won if Mercedes did not fluff their strategy lines.
The depth of the new floor on Hamilton’s Mercedes was adjudged to be “outside the thresholds outlined in Article 3.5.9 e).” – which states that the plank cannot wear to below 9mm thickness.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished sixth, was disqualified for the same breach following Sunday’s 56-lap race at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.
Hamilton’s demise elevated Lando Norris to runner-up behind Max Verstappen, who claimed the 50th win of his career and 15th from 18 this season, and Carlos Sainz to third.
Sergio Perez was promoted to fourth to extend his lead over Hamilton in the fight for runner-up in the championship from 27 points to 39 with four races left.
Mercedes’ sporting director Ron Meadows, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin and reliability chief Richard Lane were summoned to fight Hamilton’s corner with the FIA’s four stewards – who included former British driver Derek Warwick – at 6pm local time (midnight BST).
After 30 minutes, the trio emerged from the FIA offices in the paddock before Hamilton’s punishment was handed down at 7.16pm local time (1.16am BST). Mercedes will not appeal the FIA’s verdict.
“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,” said Mercedes principal Toto 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.”
A statement from the FIA read: “During the hearing the team acknowledged that the measurement performed by the FIA Technical Team was correct and stated that the high wear on the skid pads was probably a result of the unique combination of the bumpy track and the sprint race schedule [on Saturday] that minimised the time to set up and check the car before the race.
“The stewards note 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 continued: “In this particular case, the rear skid in the area defined in the technical delegate’s report was outside of the thresholds outlined in Article 3.5.9 e) of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations, which includes a tolerance for wear.
“Therefore, the standard penalty for a breach of the technical regulations is imposed.”
Four cars were chosen at random following the race. Both Verstappen’s Red Bull and Norris’ McLaren passed the scrutineering checks.
Michael Schumacher was disqualified from the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix for an illegal floor, allowing Damon Hill to win the race.
The post-race penalties on Sunday night saw Williams’ Logan Sargeant claim his maiden point in F1 – the first American to score in the sport since Michael Andretti 30 years ago for McLaren at the Italian Grand Prix.
Earlier, Hamilton had said Mercedes’ strategy cost him his first victory in nearly two years. The Briton conceded a 10-second swing to Verstappen when Mercedes left their star driver in no man’s land as they attempted a one-stop strategy at the Circuit of the Americas.
Hamilton was less than two seconds behind early leader Lando Norris and five seconds clear of Verstappen, who started only sixth, as they approached the opening round of pit stops.
But when Verstappen and Norris stopped for fresh rubber on lap 16 and 17 respectively, Hamilton was told to stay out – with an opposing strategy to Verstappen viewed as the only way to topple the all-conquering Dutchman and his Red Bull team. It quickly proved the wrong decision.
Asked if he could complete another five laps on his current set of tyres, Hamilton replied: “I am not sure, man. It is pretty tough.”
Hamilton then locked up before his race engineer Peter Bonnington was back on the intercom to inform Hamilton that Verstappen – who on new tyres had just lapped three seconds faster than the Briton – was now likely to gazump him when he eventually stopped.
“No s—, man,” yelled Hamilton, with his tyres falling off the cliff. “I am struggling out here.”
Hamilton came in four laps later than Verstappen with a slow front-right tyre change adding to his woes. When he emerged from the pits, he had dropped to third, five seconds adrift of Verstappen and 7.5 sec back from Norris.
Hamilton saw off Norris with a dozen laps to go, but he could not reel Verstappen in – taking the chequered flag an agonizing 2.2 sec behind his nemesis.
Asked if he felt he should have claimed his first win since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, 686 days ago, had it not been for Mercedes’ offset strategy, Hamilton was defiant.
“Yes,” he said without hesitation. “I do think we would have been in a position to fight with Max.
“We made our life a lot harder today than it needed to be. There are lots of areas where we could have been better.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added: “At the moment, we have mixed feelings because there is the pain of just having lost a race that we could have won.”
Hamilton could count himself unfortunate to drop from third to fourth at the start. The seven-time world champion enjoyed a decent getaway, but he was blocked by Norris under braking allowing Sainz to sneak through. Norris had seen off pole-sitter Charles Leclerc with a lunge at the first bend to assume top spot.
As Norris set about building a lead – already two seconds clear of Leclerc at the end of the second lap – Hamilton set about passing both scarlet cars.
But overall, Mercedes got it wrong, and Hamilton knew it. “You have given me a hell of a gap to close,” he said when he emerged from his stop.
Hamilton started to reel in his old nemesis Verstappen only to run out of laps. Verstappen joined Hamilton (103 wins), Michael Schumacher (91), Sebastian Vettel (53) and Alain Prost (51) in the half-century club with his 15th win from the 18 rounds so far.
The Dutchman, jeered on the podium – probably by supporters of his Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez, said: “To win my 50th career win makes me very proud and we will try to push for more,” said Verstappen.
Table of Contents
Verstappen holds off Hamilton for 50th career F1 win, as it happened
10:43 PM BST
Verstappen taunts Mercedes and Hamilton
Verstappen on Sky Sports:
For sure, they could have won today if they did a better strategy after the first stop. The whole weekend they were very quick.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner added:
Before the race all our simulations were telling us two stop was the fastest race for us, so that’s what we committed to.
The debate was do we run the hard [tyre] in the middle stint or the medium. We knew going up against Lando that they’d committed to the two hards, so we knew going medium-medium it was crucial for Max to make use of that to get the pass done and get the track position and then run our fastest race to the end of the race.
I think Mercedes found themselves in no man’s land today. They sort of attempted a one [stop], aborted, and then took the better tyre, the medium tyre, for the final stint. But thankfully we had just enough to hold them off.
10:33 PM BST
Where the race was lost for Hamilton?
Pit lane time at the #USGP (in-out, two stops for each):
— Phillip Horton (@PHortonF1) October 22, 2023
10:26 PM BST
Constructor standings: McLaren move up to 4th
10:25 PM BST
Driver standings: Hamilton closing the gap on Perez
10:18 PM BST
Wolff on Mercedes’ strategy decisions with Hamilton
Hindsight is a tough thing. You can say, if we would have covered Max, but we had the quicker car at that stage but we didn’t know, so dragging it out to a one-stop was a valid thing at that stage.
But then we lost so much time over two laps. That’s what lost the race. We were on Lap 19 or 20 and needed to extend to 23 to make the one-stop stick.
We knew we needed four more laps for a one-stop and he was 20 seconds behind us but then the tyre dropped and we lost the gap.
10:04 PM BST
Leading the race I controlled it a lot, just not enough today. But I’m happy.
It was a good race from my side. We knew our struggles, we knew what was going to be difficult today and it was just degradation. The pace over the first laps of every stint and the pace in the beginning was strong, I just couldn’t hold on long enough.
We are getting there, progress every weekend. Some more steps needed.
09:58 PM BST
First of all, we have to congratulate these guys (Red Bull). The team has done an incredible job all year long, just dominated and Max has been flawless. We were catching towards the end and I was hopeful we needed some more laps.
The team did an amazing job this weekend, so much work to bring this upgrade here. Honestly it was really difficult after the last race, firstly with everything that is going on in the world and the big mistake I made. I really felt like I let the team down so much.
I had to go through a real deep process of getting back here. It’s one of those experiences of not how you fall but how you get up.
09:57 PM BST
Boos for the world champ as he comes out onto the podium. Lots of ‘Checo’ chants for Perez.
09:52 PM BST
The whole race, I was struggling a lot with the brakes. Around here there are quite a few braking points. I couldn’t really have the same feeling as yesterday so that definitely made my race a bit tougher out here today.
It was very close at the end and also with the backmarkers, the tyres are already going so it makes it more difficult. It’s incredible to win my 50th Grand Prix here. Very proud of course and we will keep on trying to push for more.
09:49 PM BST
Big opportunity missed by Mercedes I think
I do wonder what would have happened if Merc didn’t spend some laps thinking about the 1 stop around the first pitstop….
Lost 7 seconds to Max around that first stop – had the tyre offset at the end but I’d be interested to know if Lewis could have won today
— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) October 22, 2023
09:45 PM BST
Norris takes 3rd in 100th race start
Norris to McLaren:
Aye, aye. That was a tough one, but another podium.
09:43 PM BST
Hamilton delight at podium
Hamilton to Mercedes:
Fantastic weekend. Really well done. We’ve got work to do in many areas, but we’re getting closer. We’ll get there. Thank you to everyone back at the factory for the upgrade. I really appreciate you not giving up on us.
09:42 PM BST
Final result in Austin
09:40 PM BST
WATCH: Angry Max
09:39 PM BST
Into the final lap, Hamilton is 2s behind Verstappen. Looks like he is going to run out of laps. Norris looks solid for third despite the best efforts of Sainz in 4th.
The gap by the long straight is 1.5s and Verstappen has DRS due to a backmarker.
Hamilton has given this a good go but it is not enough as Verstappen claims his 50th race victory.
09:36 PM BST
Verstappen explodes at his team on the team radio over talking to him under braking.
The gap is now 2.3s between him and Hamilton.
09:36 PM BST
Top 10 after 54/56 laps
1. Verstappen 2. Hamilton 3. Norris 4. Sainz 5. Perez 6. Leclerc 7. Russell 8. Gasly 9. Stroll 10. Tsunoda
09:33 PM BST
Perez passes Leclerc at Turn 1 and moves into fifth.
Hamilton to Mercedes:
God damn he’s [Verstappen] good on that hard tyre. The car’s too quick.
09:32 PM BST
Sainz is being told to push and get after Norris in third. Verstappen holds a 4.7s lead over Hamilton. I can’t see Mercedes catching the Red Bull unless the brake issue becomes a real problem.
Albon is handed a penalty for track limits.
09:30 PM BST
Alonso retires from the race with a rear suspension failure. Verstappen is managing the lead from Hamilton.
Ferrari to Leclerc:
Let Sainz by. Do not lose time.
09:28 PM BST
WATCH: Hamilton passes Norris for 2nd
09:28 PM BST
Hamilton closes the gap on Norris down the home straight with DRS. And he gets the move done into the first corner despite Norris’ best efforts.
5s between Verstappen and Hamilton…
09:26 PM BST
Verstappen is pulling away from Norris. The gap is now 4.7s.
But Hamilton is closing the gap on Norris, it’s now 1s.
09:22 PM BST
Top 10 after 47/56 laps
1. Verstappen 2. Norris 3. Hamilton 4. Leclerc 5. Sainz 6. Perez 7. Russell 8. Gasly 9. Alonso 10. Tsunoda
Verstappen to Red Bull:
Please, no talking under braking.
09:21 PM BST
Hamilton to Mercedes:
Still a big gap out there.
09:19 PM BST
The story of the closing laps is how far can Hamilton get. He will be in striking distance of Norris in four laps. Then can he get after Verstappen? We shall see…
09:17 PM BST
Hamilton into DRS range on Leclerc, who is struggling and should be pitting soon.
Hamilton eventually gets the overtake done into Turn 12. He is 6s behind race leader Verstappen and 3s behind Norris.
09:15 PM BST
Verstappen continues to complain about his brakes but doesn’t appear to be affecting his speed as he grows a gap between him and Norris.
09:13 PM BST
Hamilton in fourth and chasing down Leclerc, who still needs to pit for the second time. Russell pits and comes out in ninth.
Verstappen and Norris are on hard tyres, Hamilton is on mediums. He should be quick by the end of the race…
09:10 PM BST
Verstappen overtakes Leclerc into the first corner. Norris then gets the Ferrari into Turn 12. 1.2s between Verstappen and Norris. The McLaren is coming alive.
09:09 PM BST
Verstappen is closing the gap on Leclerc. Sainz passes Russell. Hamilton into the pits. He pits onto the mediums.
09:07 PM BST
Hamilton is the new race leader ahead of Perez, Leclerc, Verstappen, Norris and Russell.
15s separate Hamilton and Verstappen. How far can Hamilton go on his tyres? He’s been told to safe fuel.
09:05 PM BST
Verstappen pits at the end of lap 35. Slow stop by Red Bull but Verstappen comes out ahead of Norris, who is now 1.7s behind him.
09:03 PM BST
Norris is first of the front runners to go for a two-stop. Another set of hard tyres have been fitted on the McLaren.
Verstappen to Red Bull:
Ah mate, these brakes are so s— compared to yesterday.
09:02 PM BST
Verstappen has extended the gap to 3s over Norris but complains on team radio bitterly about his brakes.
Norris into the pits at the end of lap 34. He comes out in sixth. How do Red Bull respond?
09:00 PM BST
Top 10 after 33/56 laps
1. Verstappen 2. Norris 3. Hamilton 4. Sainz 5. Perez 6. Leclerc 7. Russell 8. Gasly 9. Tsunoda 10. Alonso
08:59 PM BST
Verstappen responds to Norris and gets out of DRS range. The gap now 1.8s. Hamilton is now 3.8 behind Norris.
08:57 PM BST
Norris is back in DRS range of Verstappen and is now complaining about the champ exceeding track limits.
Fair play to the McLaren for sticking with the Red Bull. Can he make an overtake?
08:54 PM BST
WATCH: Verstappen passes Norris for the lead
08:54 PM BST
Who had lap 28 for Verstappen taking the lead? I think it’s now a race for second between Norris and Hamilton, who is 4.5s behind.
Hamilton to Mercedes:
You’ve given me a hell of a gap to close.
08:53 PM BST
DRS again for Verstappen down the straight. Norris goes wide. Verstappen goes for the move and makes it stick. The McLaren tries to stay with the Red Bull but the champ gets his car in front and drives away.
This looks like a Lando vs Lewis battle for second….
The 3 lap offset strategy for Lewis has cost him I think. Let’s see if it closes up later but gone from 2 seconds to 8 behind Lando.
— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) October 22, 2023
08:50 PM BST
DRS for Verstappen down the straight but Norris hangs on. Norris has a lap deleted for track limits. They are 7s ahead of Hamilton.
08:48 PM BST
Verstappen is on a two-stop on mediums, Norris and Hamilton could go to the end on the hard tyre.
Seems like a matter of time before Verstappen gets Norris. He’s got DRS and closes the gap even more.
08:47 PM BST
Norris locks up and that allows Verstappen to close the gap significantly. He’s very close to being within DRS range.
08:45 PM BST
In a team radio conversation with McLaren, Norris agrees to switch to Plan B – which is likely to be a one-stopper – as they target fighting Verstappen for the win.
Hamilton on team radio:
We came out so far behind
08:44 PM BST
Leclerc pits at the end of lap 23 to release Norris. Verstappen is 2nd, Hamilton in 3rd, Sainz in 4th.
08:42 PM BST
Norris now holds the net race lead with Verstappen 2.7s behind and closing.
The actual race leader is Leclerc, who is yet to pit. Albon has had two track limit warnings in a row. Could see some penalties later in the race.
08:39 PM BST
Hamilton pits, 3.6s stop. When he comes back out on track Hamilton is now behind Verstappen by 6s.
Big error by Mercedes there.
08:38 PM BST
Hamilton locks up and loses a lot of time. Surely he has to pit soon. Hamilton tells his team he is struggling.
Verstappen is 3s behind Norris. The gap was 7s before the pit stops.
08:36 PM BST
Red Bull believe Hamilton could be on a one-stop strategy. Fastest lap from Verstappen.
Hamilton tells his team that he doesn’t think he can go for another five laps on his current set of tyres.
Pit stops take 20s. Hamilton’s lead over sixth placed Verstappen is 20.6s.
08:33 PM BST
Norris comes in for a 2.8s stop. Sainz is told to stop by Ferrari. Hamilton stays out.
Personal best sectors from Verstappen…
08:32 PM BST
Verstappen into the pits. 2.5s stop, he puts on the mediums. He is committing to a two-stop race. The Red Bulls are looking for an undercut here.
How will Norris and Hamilton respond?
08:31 PM BST
Norris is on team radio saying he is struggling with the balance of his car. He’s told to avoid the kerbs.
08:29 PM BST
Verstappen’s reporting “zero grip” and is not happy with how his tyres are faring right now. But he is bit by bit closing in on the front two.
I think he is exactly where he wants to be at this stage of the race.
08:28 PM BST
Alonso, who started in the pit lane and is already up to 11th with team-mate Stroll behind him.
1.8s separates Hamilton and Norris. The Merc is closing the gap with every lap.
08:26 PM BST
WATCH: Verstappen moves into 3rd
08:25 PM BST
A number of drivers are exceeding track limits. Perez is on team radio complaining about Russell in front of him and calling for a five-second penalty.
Hamilton is the fastest man on the track. Hammer-time?
08:23 PM BST
Wheel to wheel racing between Verstappen and Leclerc down into Turn 12. The Ferrari tries to hang on but can’t as the Red Bull has greater traction.
08:21 PM BST
Piastri is slowing down and being told to retire his McLaren. Must be a consequence of his incident with Ocon.
08:21 PM BST
First car into the pits is Zhou, who stops from 11th and drops to the back of the grid after a slow stop.
08:19 PM BST
The top 10 after nine laps
1. Norris 2. Hamilton 3. Leclerc 4. Verstappen 5. Sainz 6. Piastri 7. Russell 8. Perez 9. Gasly 10. Tsunoda
08:17 PM BST
Verstappen is ominously pacing himself in fourth and moves to within DRS range of Leclerc. I wonder at what point will he eventually take the lead?!
1.9s gap between Norris and Hamilton at the front.
08:15 PM BST
Ocon retires from the race after a big hit with Piastri on the opening lap leaves a hole in his sidepod.
08:14 PM BST
No further investigation for Russell.
Hamilton closes up to Leclerc and overtakes him down the straight. The Ferrari’s haven’t got much speed at this stage of the race.
A British one-two with Norris leading and Hamilton chasing him down.
08:12 PM BST
Verstappen’s turn to get past Sainz down the long straight and he’s up to fourth.
Hamilton is within DRS range of Leclerc now.
08:11 PM BST
Norris takes the lead
08:10 PM BST
DRS for Hamilton and he moves into the top three as he speeds past Sainz.
08:09 PM BST
Norris is streaking clear at the front. He leads by 2.4s. DRS is now available for the drivers.
And Russell uses it to get past Ocon and Perez follows him too.
Hamilton is all over the gearbox for Sainz.
08:08 PM BST
Remember this is Norris’ 100th race. Would be a great time to win his first race.
Russell has been noted for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.
08:05 PM BST
It’s lights out and away we go!
Good start by Norris as he gets to the first corner ahead of Leclerc. Hamilton drops to 4th and has Verstappen behind him.
Sainz is up to third and challenging his team-mate for second. Russell and Perez are 8th and 9th respectively.
There’s action everywhere.
08:00 PM BST
The grid clears leaving just the cars. The lights go green and drivers get going for the start of the formation lap with Leclerc leading them away.
07:58 PM BST
Watch out for the McLaren’s…
07:55 PM BST
It is bright and sunny in Austin. The temperature is 29.2C with the track at a fraction below 40C.
No sign of rain on the radar!
07:53 PM BST
The A-listers arrive
07:47 PM BST
Martin’s Grid Walk
The great Martin Brundle has had some chaotic grid walks in the US in the past. He makes a nice start with Mark Webber and Damon Hill.
Then talks to two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who has bought a stake in Alpine F1. He teases a double bill of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk and Joshua vs Deontay Wilder. Next up is Rory McIlroy, who is still revelling in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory.
Patrick Dempsey stops for a chat about Michael Mann’s Ferrari movie which he stars in.
Max Verstappen and Oscar Piastri stop for a talk as they make their way to the front of the grid for the national anthem and it concludes with Fernando Alonso whizzing by and saying he has a lot of work to do today as he starts from the pit lane.
07:35 PM BST
Leclerc will start from pole position for the 21st time
It’s going to be tight with Lando because first place doesn’t have a great amount of grip. At the same time we have always been quite strong with starts, so I’m crossing my fingers that it’s the same today and we can keep our first place after Turn 1.
We had great place all weekend but. Having said that, yesterday we struggled a bit more on degradation.
We think we can do some things to optimise it. It won’t be a miracle but it should go in the right direction. These small details can make a difference. So I really hope today we can see a better degradation.
Also the strategy will have a big influence on today’s result. It’s quite clear what we have to do, so I’m hoping for a great result today.
07:24 PM BST
A century up for Norris and Russell
By Tom Cary
Official Formula 1 social media videos are not always the most entertaining. Rarely venturing into awkward territory, they present a sanitised vision of the paddock, with the drivers always on message and on best behaviour. Every so often, though, they throw up a little gem.
So it was in Barcelona earlier this year when, ahead of the release of EA Sports’ F1 23, they got various drivers to guess their own and each other’s driver card ratings. Whoever had the idea to pair Lando Norris with George Russell knew exactly what he or she was doing.
The two young Brits get on well, having raced each other in karting and junior categories since their early days (Russell is 25 to Norris’ 23 so they weren’t direct contemporaries but they overlapped enough to form a good relationship). But there is always a little edge between them, given they are both out to inherit Lewis Hamilton’s mantle as top Brit.
So when the final scores for F1 23 were revealed, with Norris awarded an overall rating of 89 compared to Russell’s 88 (down two from last year), the Mercedes man was less than impressed. “Hang on, what?” Russell demanded before tipping the card onto the floor in mock anger. “You’ve ruined my mood going into the weekend!” Norris, loving it, piped up: “Don’t be a sore loser, George.”
It was something and nothing. As both Brits hit the 100-race milestone in Austin this weekend, though, it seems a pertinent moment to ask: which of them is better placed to inherit Hamilton’s crown? After five seasons and 99 races in Formula One, can we say definitively that Russell or Norris is the quicker driver? That one is the more likely world champion?
Read more here.
07:11 PM BST
New member of the Alpine pit crew
07:02 PM BST
One hour to go!
06:50 PM BST
The starting grid
06:39 PM BST
The Duke of Sussex is in town
06:32 PM BST
United States Grand Prix
Hello and welcome to coverage of the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
The drivers and constructors championships may have been wrapped up by Max Verstappen and Red Bull but for the rest of the grid there is still plenty to play for in the final five races.
And tonight presents an opportunity for the likes of Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton, who occupy the top three positions on the starting grid. Verstappen begins the race from sixth after his lap time was deleted for exceeding track limits.
“It wasn’t easy for everybody so I am really happy to start on pole for Sunday,” said Leclerc. “It is a surprise for us because we didn’t expect to be fighting for pole.
“Going into Turn 1 it is tricky here, but it is always better to start at the front than the back.”
Hamilton, who has only finished off the podium once in Austin, said: “I love being in the States. The circuit is incredible and is one of my favourites, right up there with Silverstone. it is a legendary layout and incredibly challenging.
“We have taken a step closer to the front which I know everyone is working so hard for. They are still a little bit ahead but we will give it another shot tomorrow. With this crowd, anything is possible.”
Verstappen, who wrapped up his third world title in Qatar a fortnight ago, is bidding to join Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel by reaching 50 victories.
Sergio Perez, second in the championship but only 30 points clear of Hamilton and five rounds remaining, will be feeling the pressure with Red Bull determined to end the year one-two in the standings.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo started his comeback from injury with 15th place on the grid for AlphaTauri, with team mate Yuki Tsunoda 11th.
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