Lewis Hamilton, disqualified from the Sao Paulo GP for qualifying for illegal rear wing

SAO PAULO, Brazil – Lewis Hamilton has been disqualified from qualifying for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix for a violation of F1 technical regulations.

Hamilton beat his title rival Max Verstappen in the fastest time in qualifying, but will now start Saturday’s sprint race from last place.

After Friday’s qualifying session, Hamilton’s car was referred to the stewards for an alleged violation of regulations surrounding its rear wing.

To be considered legal, the overtaking aid of an F1 car’s drag reduction system cannot be opened more than 85 millimeters when operated by the driver.

On Saturday afternoon, the stewards said: “Hamilton’s car could not meet the requirement of a maximum measurement of 85 millimeters”, referring to the maximum opening of the DRS at either end of the wing.

The decision will have a great impact on the championship. Hamilton is already 19 points behind Verstappen with four runs to play.

Hamilton also faces a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race after an engine change by Mercedes before the weekend, meaning he faces the possibility of not scoring points in the sprint race. which only awards points to the top three drivers, and then down five spots on Sunday’s grid from where it ends on Saturday.

By contrast, Verstappen appears to be well-positioned to win both the sprint race and Sunday’s grand prix, which would bring him to the brink of a career-first championship.

Hamilton’s disqualification concluded a dramatic period of intrigue and speculation that began Friday night, as Verstappen was also asked to visit the stewards on Saturday morning after a video emerged of a fan of him inspecting. and touching the same part of Hamilton’s car that was called. question.

Shortly before Hamilton’s disqualification was confirmed, Verstappen was € 50,000 fine for violating the rules of the parc fermé. Crucially, since it had been speculated that Verstappen could have compromised that part of Hamilton’s car by touching it, the stewards said that the Red Bull driver had not caused any direct damage.

In particular, the stewards also stated that Mercedes agreed that Verstappen’s actions were “unlikely” to have caused the failure, although the team believed it had been an “open question” when the video surfaced.

Before the sprint, Mercedes confirmed that it would not appeal the decision. Had he appealed, Hamilton would have retained pole position for the sprint race, but would also have put his results in both the sprint and the grand prix under threat of disqualification.

The full verdict on Hamilton’s disqualification:

The FIA ​​said in a statement: “The Technical Delegate reported that Car 44 failed the test designed to verify the requirements of the last paragraph of Art. 3.6.3 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations. The verification is described in Technical Directive 011 -19.

“In simple terms, there is a gap between the upper and lower parts of the rear wing. When the DRS is not activated, this gap should be between 10mm and 15mm. The car passed this part of the test.

“When DRS is activated, which raises the upper wing element to a flatter position, the gap should be between 10mm and 85mm. The maximum gap is measured, according to TD / 011-19, by pushing an 85 gauge mm against the gap with a maximum load of 10N (ten newtons.) If the indicator passes, the car failed the test.

“In this case, the gauge would not cross the inner section of the wing, but the outer section of the wing. This test was repeated four times with two different gauges, once carried out in the presence of the Competitor’s stewards and representatives.

“The stewards held a hearing on Friday after qualifying with Ron Meadows, the competitor’s representative, and Simon Cole, Trackside and FIA Chief Engineer Jo Bauer, Technical Delegate and [Nikolas] Tombazis, single-seater technical director. The stewards then adjourned the hearing to gather more evidence and, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning, held an additional hearing that also included John Owen, the competitor’s chief designer, who testified by video conference, but did not include Jo Bauer.

“The competitor stated that the design is intended to comply with regulations. The stewards were clear that the additional deviation was due to additional play, either in the DRS actuator or pivots at the end, or some combination or other failure in the mechanism., or incorrect assembly of the parts. The Stewards heard, both from the team and the FIA, that the same design has been tested many times during the season and uniformly approved. In addition, the FIA ​​has examined the design of the area of the car in question and they are satisfied that the design meets the intent of the regulation. Therefore, there is no doubt in the minds of the Stewards that the test failure indicates any attempt to exceed the maximum dimension, be it by action or design.

The Competitor also pointed out that Art. 3.6.3 of the regulations establishes a maximum dimension, which can be measured without applying a force or load. It is not until a force is applied that the gauge can pass. There was no disagreement that the test itself was performed as described in TD / 011-19. The gauges were measured and the stewards were satisfied that they were of the correct size. Therefore, the competitor argues that his car complied with the regulation in the static position and thus complies with the regulation.

“The FIA ​​argues that while it is not regulatory, the TD, like many others, outlines the test procedure so that competitors can design cars that comply with regulations. Furthermore, the TD claims that the test is designed” to ensure that the rear of the wing element does not deviate into an opening greater than the allowed value … “. Stewards take the position that while a TD is not in itself a regulation, TDs are accepted as the method that teams can trust and in this case, the test that was carried out was in accordance with the TD and its legitimate purposes.

“The Competitor claimed that the fact that the car passed the test in the central section of the wing is a mitigating factor and shows that there was no intention to infringe the regulations. While the Stewards accept that this last point may be true, the Los Stewards believe that which sections failed is not relevant to the fact that the wing failed the test.

“The Competitor noted that this is not a systemic infringement, and indeed it is unique. It was, rather, something that went wrong. The Competitor further noted that they would have liked to have had the opportunity to inspect the parts with a view to having some explanation. Stewards as to how the issue arose. However, Stewards fundamentally accept the Competitor’s explanation that the cause of the failed test was something “gone wrong” rather than deliberate action. Therefore, the Stewards opted for keep the assembly secret and preserve evidence of failure, rather than tampering with the parts in an inspection that would have involved some handling of the parts and therefore some tampering with the evidence.

“The final point of the Competitor with regard to the assembly itself is that it is standard practice of the FIA ​​Technical Department to allow teams to fix minor problems they encounter with their cars, even during Parc Fermé qualifying conditions. If the Competitor had they recognized this problem during qualifying they would surely have looked, and the FIA ​​Technical Department confirmed, they would have received permission to fix the parts or tighten the bolts if necessary.

“The Stewards were sympathetic to this argument and discussed whether they felt it was an extenuating circumstance. Often, it is an extenuating circumstance to take into account the damage caused by the accident. However, the Stewards were unable to extend this argument to cover parts that were found to be out of conformity in post-session checks for no obvious reason other than consideration of normal operation at this Event. In the end, the regulations are clear and at the time of the conformity check, the car did not comply.

“At the end of the first hearing on Friday, an amateur video emerged of the driver Max Verstappen touching the car 44 in the Parc Fermé. The Stewards took the time to compile all available video footage of this incident and finally reviewed the footage of the car from car 14, car 77, car 33 and car 44, as well as CCTV footage from FIA pit lane cameras, in addition to amateur footage. The Stewards held a separate hearing in relation to this incident. and they incorporated the text of that decision into this document.

“In summary, however, the competitor of the 44 car also agreed that Verstappen’s actions were unlikely to cause the failure, however, they felt it was an open question. The stewards, however, were completely satisfied, after having thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence regarding that incident, which is unrelated to this case.

“Ultimately, therefore, the Stewards decide that car 44 failed the test indicated in TD / 011-19 and therefore violates Art 3.6.3 of the FIA ​​Formula 1 Technical Regulations. The Stewards are in agreement with the Competitor that this is something that has gone wrong, rather than an intentional act or design, but did not consider that extenuating circumstances existed. Furthermore, article 1.3.3 of the International Sporting Code states that “it will not be a defense alleging that no performance advantage was gained. “Therefore, the Stewards order the usual sanction for technical failure of Qualifying Session Disqualification.

“Competitors are reminded that they have the right to appeal certain decisions of the Stewards, in accordance with Article 15 of the FIA ​​International Sporting Code and Chapter 4 of the FIA ​​Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, within the time limits applicable “.

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