The FIA only measured the planks of four cars after the race, and found that those of Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were illegal, leading to the disqualifications of the two drivers.
The cars of Max Verstappen and Lando Norris were deemed legal, but despite the 50% failure rate on the bumpy COTA track, the FIA stuck with its usual protocols and opted not to sample any other cars further down the order.
Speaking for the first time since the disqualification, Hamilton made clear how frustrated he was to lose his second place.
“I just came out of the press conference, got back, and I was about to get in the ice tub,” he said. “And then Toto [Wolff] came running down and told me. Obviously [I was] devastated [as] it had been such a great day and great race.
“But yeah, and then I didn’t find out fully until I was back home. Yeah, just a bit deflated after the day, but there were lots of positives to take from it.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 2nd position, on the podium with his trophy
Asked what he thought about only four cars being tested, Hamilton made his feelings clear.
“Firstly I’ve heard from several different sources that there were a lot of other cars that were also illegal,” he said.
“But they weren’t tested, so they got away with it. I’ve been racing here 16 years, there’s been times where there’s been many other scenarios like this where some people got away with certain things, and some people have just been unlucky they got tested.
“So I think ultimately there probably needs to be some sort of better structure in terms of making sure it’s fair and even across the board.”
Hamilton pointed out that the sprint weekend format, with car specs fixed after FP1, makes such things more likely to happen.
“We’ve never had that problem in Austin before,” he said. “It was just because we had the sprint race as well, so an easy solution, an easy fix for that one, for example, is that we are able to change the floors after the… Well, just approach the weekend differently, where the car is not set already from Friday morning.
“Especially at the bumpiest track that we’ve been on, because that’s really the only reason that there are failures, it’s just because it’s so bumpy, and some cars have better ride quality than others. Look at the Ferrari, look at Charles’ head and my head.
“We have pretty bad ride, and our heads are bumping around quite a lot because the car is hitting the deck. It’s not because we generally are just pushing the car too low.”
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, the rest of the field on the opening lap
Hamilton denied that the team had been stretching the limits with a low ride height in search for performance, and that perhaps explained why the W14 was so competitive at COTA.
“No, I think firstly we need to just address the point that last year, our car was best when it was low, super low,” he said.
“So we were low and stiff. Our car works better at high ride heights now. So it’s not that we’re just pushing the car too low.
“It was just an unfortunate scenario. 0.05 [mm] failure on the rear skid, it’s not going to make the difference between winning and losing. So that error wasn’t the reason that we were as fast as were.
“So that’s why it’s just been painful for us. Because, you know, if we had changed our rear springs, for example, perhaps we would have had better ride.
“But anyways, we’re hopeful that the performance will continue this weekend. And yeah, just making sure that guys don’t overreact. I think we’ll be fine.”