Lewis Hamilton has been disqualified from qualifying at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix for a DRS infringement on Friday.
After setting the fastest time in qualifying — that set the grid for the Sprint this afternoon — Hamilton’s rear wing was found to fail a scrutineering test that showed the gap in the rear wing with DRS open exceeded 85mm. After an initial hearing on Friday night, the investigation continued on Saturday with a further look at Max Verstappen touching the wing in parc ferme.
It transpired that there had been a fault with the Mercedes rear wing that meant it passed the test in the middle of the wing but not each outer section, and “it was clear to the Stewards that the additional deflection was due to additional play either in the DRS actuator or the pivots at the end, or some combination or other fault with the mechanism, or incorrect assembly of the parts.
“The Stewards heard, from both the team and the FIA, that the same design has been tested many times during the season and uniformly passed,” the decision continued. “Further, the FIA has examined the design of the area of the car in question and are satisfied that the design meets the intent of the regulation. There is therefore no question in the minds of the Stewards that the test failure indicates any intent to exceed the maximum dimension either by action or design.”
Despite that, and the fact that the stewards “fundamentally accept the Competitor’s explanation that the cause of the failed test was something ‘gone wrong’ rather than a deliberate action,” with Mercedes unable to prove a reason for the failure — such as crash damage — Hamilton was disqualified from the qualifying results.
The stewards gave Verstappen a €50,000 ($57,000) fine and Mercedes agreed that “it was unlikely that Verstappen’s actions caused the fault, however they felt that it was an open question.”
The outcome is that Verstappen will now start from first place in the Sprint this afternoon, with Hamilton at the back and with 24 laps to make as much progress as possible. He will then take a further five-place grid penalty from wherever he finishes in the Sprint for the grand prix itself on Sunday.