The battle for second place in the Formula 1 world championship could very well come down to the disqualification of Lewis Hamilton after the United States Grand Prix.
Sunday’s United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas marked the closest that seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton had come to winning a Formula 1 race since December 2021.
He closed the gap to three-time reigning world champion Max Verstappen in the closing laps but just didn’t have enough to challenge for the victory.
But after his second place finish, his ninth in the 41 races that have been contested since his 103rd and most recent victory, irregularities were spotted on Hamilton’s Mercedes by the FIA Technical team in plank wear inspection.
It was ruled that the car was illegal and Lewis Hamilton was disqualified for the first time since the 2009 Formula 1 season opener.
The same issue was found during the inspection of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.
Hamilton had initially scored 18 points with his second place finish, giving him 25 on the weekend after he scored seven with a runner-up finish in Saturday’s sprint race.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, the driver with whom Hamilton is battling for second behind Verstappen in the world championship standings, scored 14, four in the sprint and 10 in the Grand Prix, after finishing both in fifth.
That allowed Hamilton to close the gap to 19 points to Perez with four races and a sprint remaining on the 22-race schedule. Instead, that gap has more than doubled to 39.
Hamilton lost his 18 points from the Grand Prix, and Perez was promoted from fifth to fourth place giving him 12 points instead of just 10.
The battle for second place in the standings is far from over, but this extra 20-point cushion could go a long way in helping Perez secure his career-best finish and preventing Hamilton from securing an 11th top two finish in 17 seasons.
Additionally, having crashed out on the opening lap in Qatar, Hamilton has now failed to score points in two straight races for the first time since 2010.