Lewis Hamilton dealt fresh F1 blow after US GP as Max Verstappen truth becomes clear

Lewis Hamilton is disqualified from the US Grand Prix hours after the race ended, as his Mercedes car was inspected shows excessive floor wear

Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification from the US Grand Prix has raised questions about the true speed of his Mercedes.
The seven-time world champion, along with Charles Leclerc, was stripped of his race results after a post-race inspection revealed excessive rear pad wear on the floor of his Mercedes. This meant that the car did not comply with F1 regulations.

Elimination means Hamilton loses second place and the 18 world championship points that go with it. Perhaps more relevant in the long term, this further calls into question his race pace compared to Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman won the race but not by as big a margin as he is used to this season. He was just over two seconds ahead of Hamilton when he took the checkered flag.

The Mercedes driver shortened this gap in the final laps. Verstappen is having problems with his brakes, which clearly plays a role, while Hamilton also has medium tires that are faster than Red Bull’s hard tires in this final race.

But the racing pace of Mercedes’ W14 cars certainly seemed much stronger in Austin. And, given that a major upgrade to their machinery floor was rolled out this weekend, it would be natural to assume that automotive developments are the reason behind the apparent closing of the gap between Mercedes and Red Bull.

However, the excessive wear on Hamilton’s undercarriage is a sign that Red Bull’s in-car settings were deliberately sub-optimal. After all, Verstappen completed the same number of laps in Sunday’s race, but when his floor was similarly inspected, it was found to be in compliance with the regulations.

This means it doesn’t hit the ground as often as Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Vehicle height has long been a key factor for Red Bull. The efficiency of the floor design means the RB19s can travel much lower to the ground on most tracks, which is one of their biggest weapons. But increased board wear was always on the team’s radar as a potential side effect.

As a result, the Red Bulls ran much higher than usual on the bumpy track of the Circuit of the Americas. Coupled with Verstappen’s brake problems, this goes a long way to explaining why the Dutchman couldn’t disappear from the distance as usual. It also helped Sergio Perez justify his fifth place on the track – fourth after Hamilton dropped out of the standings.

Mercedes seems happy with how their improvements worked out in Austin and they may actually have brought the W14 closer in performance to its Red Bull counterpart. But Hamilton won’t really know how far his car is from

Verstappen’s superior machine until the RB19 can lower its ride height again and return to its most efficient characteristics.

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