Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc caught in illegal drama amid F1 bombshell

The superstar pair were found to be in breach of F1 rules in Austin.

Lewis Hamilton (far left) and Charles Leclerc (far right) were both stripped of their points after being DQ'd at the US GP in Austin. Pic: Getty
Lewis Hamilton (far left) and Charles Leclerc (far right) were both stripped of their points after being DQ'd at the US GP in Austin. Pic: Getty

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc have been sensationally disqualified from the United States Grand Prix, having crossed the line in second and sixth place respectively. The cars driven by the pair were found to be in breach of F1 regulations, following a post-race inspection by stewards in Austin.

The race was won by Red Bull's three-time world champion Max Verstappen, who claimed a record-equalling 15th victory of the season, with four races still to go. Hamilton crossed the line just behind Verstappen in second, while Leclerc also looked to be amongst the spoils, but both were stripped of their points following an inspection of their respective vehicles, shortly after the race.

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Governing body the FIA revealed after the race that skids on both Hamilton and Leclerc’s cars were “found not to be in compliance” with the rules and regulations. A statement from F1 said “both teams sent a representative to speak to the stewards, stating that ‘the high wear on the skid pads was probably a result of the unique combination of the bumpy track and the sprint race schedule that minimised the time to set up and check the car before the race.’”

The FIA said in its statement 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 the thresholds outlined” in the specific rule that the teams violated.

Mercedes respond after bombshell DQ

“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,” said Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff.

The disqualifications meant neither drivers earned points in a setback that seriously dents Hamilton’s chances of catching Red Bull’s Sergio Perez for second place in the championship standings. Perez entered the race 27 points ahead of Hamilton, with the Mexican only managing to cross the line in fifth - albeit later being bumped up to fourth place.

Before the DQ bombshells were handed down, it looked as though Hamilton had cut the deficit to Perez to 19 points with four races to go. As it stands now though, Perez has a 39-point advantage on Hamilton ahead of the final four races of the season.

Mercedes brought its final upgrades of the season to the track in Austin and had a car that was capable of challenging Verstappen’s Red Bull. As Verstappen struggled with brake issues over the final laps of the race, Hamilton closed on the race winner and finished just over two seconds behind. Hamilton also finished second to Verstappen in Saturday’s sprint race.

Teammate pips Daniel Ricciardo to earn fastest lap point

Daniel Ricciardo endured a disastrous return to F1 after being sidelined for almost two months with a broken hand. The Aussie finished last of the 17 drivers that completed the race and saw AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda pip his fastest lap of the race at the death to earn himself an extra point in the drivers' standings.

Pictured left is AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda and teammate Daniel Ricciardo on the right.
AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda pipped teammate Daniel Ricciardo's fastest lap right at the end of the US GP. Pic: F1/Getty

Ricciardo started in 15th and made a charge into 10th place, before rising as high as 7th until he was forced into the pits. Fellow Aussie Oscar Piastri - who replaced Ricciardo at McLaren this season - was among those forced to retire from the race after a collision with Alpine's Esteban Ocon.

Despite his promising charge, things took an unfortunate turn for Ricciardo when he was forced into the pits late in the race, with his team seen to pull a large piece of debris from the front of his car, before sending the Aussie back out on the track. The pit stop paid dividends almost immediately as Ricciardo posted the fastest lap of the race, before being outdone by Tsunoda - who crossed in 10th place.

Tsunoda ultimately rose two places in the standings after the two disqualifications. While Hamilton remains in third in the points standings, the disqualification drops Leclerc to seventh in the standings behind McLaren’s Lando Norris, who finished finished third behind Verstappen and Hamilton but was bumped up to second.

Updated United States Grand Prix finishing order

1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull

2. Lando Norris, McLaren

3. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

4. Sergio Perez, Red Bull

5. George Russell, Mercedes

6. Pierre Gasly, Alpine

7. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

8. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

9. Alex Albon, Williams

10. Logan Sergeant, Williams

11. Nico Hulkenberg, Haas

12. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo

13. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo

14. Kevin Magnussen, Haas

15. Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri

DNF: Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin), Oscar Piastri (McLaren), Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

DQ'd: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

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