Nearly four hours after Hamilton finished second in his most competitive race of the season – one he could have won if Mercedes did not fluff their strategy lines – the stewards declared his car did not comply with the regulations.
The depth of the new floor on Hamilton’s upgraded 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.
Mercedes said the sprint format – which allows for just one hour of practice before parc ferme rules heavily constrict changes to the cars – had a bearing on Hamilton’s disqualification.
But team principal Wolff said: “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 in Mexico.”
Four cars were chosen at random following the race. Both winner Max Verstappen’s Red Bull and Lando Norris’ McLaren passed the scrutineering checks.
Hamilton’s demise elevated Norris to runner-up behind 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 second place in the championship from 27 points to 39.
Hamilton crossed the line just 2.2 seconds adrift of Verstappen after Mercedes’ move to attempt a one-stop strategy backfired and probably denied the seven-time world champion his first victory in 686 days.
But despite expressing frustration at his team’s strategy, Hamilton was asked if he has been provided hope that he could taste victory before the season is out.
“Yes, definitely,” replied the 38-year-old. “The steps that we were able to take this weekend has given me a little bit more confidence to throw the car into the corners.
“There are still some of the fundamental issues that we’re having with the car, which won’t change until next year. But it was really positive to feel that the decisions we are taking are the right ones.”
Hamilton will be back in action at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix with rounds to follow in Brazil and Las Vegas before the campaign concludes in Abu Dhabi on November 26.