Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton has been disqualified from the US Grand Prix. AFP / CHANDAN KHANNA

Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton has been disqualified from the US Grand Prix after finishing in second place behind race winner Max Verstappen. The Briton was disqualified post-race alongside Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc after their cars failed a post-race technical inspection.

Leclerc finished sixth, and after the shakedown caused by their disqualifications, the final race classification has Verstappen in first place, Lando Norris (McLaren) in second, and Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) in third.

Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez moved up to fourth place, followed by George Russell (Mercedes). Pierre Gasly (Alpine) and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) then came in at sixth and seveth place, respectively.

AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda claimed the fastest lap of the race and was classified in eighth, followed by the two Williams drivers, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, who completed the top ten.

Why were Hamilton and Leclerc disqualified?

Immediately after the conclusion of the US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, cars were subjected to random inspections and according to an official report by Formula 1, "irregularities were spotted by the FIA Technical team after a plank wear inspection was carried out".

Referring to Hamilton and Leclerc's cars, the report said: "The skids located in the area -825 ≥ XR ≥ - 1025 are found to be not in compliance with Article 3.5.9 e) of the 2023 Formula One Technical Regulations."

As a result, both drivers have been disqualified from the race. It was a massive disappointment for both of them, with Hamilton giving up a strong second-place after the team's final major upgrade for the 2023 season. Leclerc started on pole position after Verstappen's flying lap time was deleted in Q3, but he failed to capitalise by losing the lead to Lando Norris off the start.

The Ferrari was not fast enough this weekend to stay in front, and Leclerc could only manage sixth place. Unfortunately, even those crucial points will disappear thanks to the technical breach. Luckily, Sainz was promoted to third place.

Both teams pleaded their case to the stewards, blaming the excessive wear on the underfloor skid blocks on the bumpy track.

However, it was noted that "the onus is on the competitor to ensure that the car is in compliance with the regulations at all times during an event. In this particular case, the rear skid in the area defined in the Technical Delegate's report was outside of the thresholds outlined in Article 3.5.9 e) of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations, which includes a tolerance for wear".

Unfortunate end for Hamilton

Verstappen started all the way back form sixth place on the grid but still managed to get his Red Bull up in front. However, at just over two seconds ahead of Hamilton, this is one of the closest margins between Verstappen and the rest of the field this season.

The Mercedes upgrades were clearly effective, with Hamilton even passing Norris on track in the closing stages of the race. However, all that was for nothing after he was disqualified in the end.

If Mercedes played their strategy game right, Hamilton could potentially have won the race. All that will now be among a pile of other what ifs for the team this season.

Meanwhile, Verstappen was fastest in qualifying but had to start from sixth after going off the track in his final flying lap, resulting in the deletion of his lap time. His Red Bull was fast at COTA, but it was the team's superior strategy that once again set them apart from the rest of the field.

Verstappen pitted for the first time on lap 16, ahead of Norris who went for hard tyres versus the mediums on the Red Bull. That choice soon paid off for Verstappen, who eventually passed the McLaren for the lead by lap 28.

Hamilton opted for a longer first stint and did not pit until lap 20, but that turned out to be the difference between second place and a victory after he lost a lot of time on dying tyres. His second stop was better, but he ran out of time to catch the Red Bull.