Mercedes has revealed that two loose screws were the cause of Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification from qualifying in Brazil. Team boss Toto Wolff explains that the rear wing passed the test on the left and in the middle, but it went wrong on the right.
Hamilton was the fastest driver in qualifying on Friday in Brazil, which would see him start the sprint qualifying from the top spot on the grid. Shortly after qualifying, the DRS wing was found to be non-compliant and the Briton was disqualified. Mercedes did not appeal the decision, but team boss Toto Wolff already indicated that the part may have broken during qualifying.
In Qatar, Mercedes has regained the rear wing after the FIA confiscated it. There they could also determine what the cause was. “As we thought, this one was broken,” Wolff tells Motorsport.com. “It broke in qualifying. We didn’t pass the test on the extreme right side,” he refers to the FIA test that measured the gap between the top and bottom flaps of the rear wing. This may be a maximum of 85 mm when the DRS is activated, but according to the inspection it was 0.2 mm too large. “We passed the test on the left and in the middle, but not on the right. It was a fraction of a millimeter, but that’s fine.”
“We were not allowed to inspect the rear wing, nor were we able to argue that the part had broken,” explains Wolff. “As a result, we have now found out that two screws came loose in qualifying. That meant that the right-hand side didn’t comply with the regulations.”
“And you know, it was probably even detrimental to the lap time, but it is what it is,” Wolff accepts. “It has been reported to the stewards and that is very different from how these things were handled in the past, when you could fix things that broke during the parc fermé,” the Mercedes team principal concluded.