2023 Mexican Grand Prix, Friday - Sulay Kelly hamilton patrick

Patrick: Hamilton trying to save a bit of face

2023 Mexican Grand Prix, Friday - Sulay Kelly hamilton patrick

Danica Patrick claims Lewis Hamilton played down the effect of the undertray (aka floor) of his Mercedes that led to his disqualification from second place, after last Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton was not alone as after the race, at Circuit of the Americas, the Ferrari of Carles Leclerc and the #44 Mercedes were found to have the undertray (a separate floor to an F1 car that is bolted onto the underside of the monocoque) on their respective cars worn down to the point they transgressed the rules. Both were thus disqualified as a consequence.

With ground-effects a huge factor in today’s F1 cars, the floor or plank (that causes the sparks) has more important significance to the setup of the car than conventional non-aero dependent concepts. In other words, making a car grippier or not.

Former Indycar and NASCAR driver Patrick, moonlighting as F1 pundit pointed out on Sky F1: “Charles probably handled it appropriately because there’s nothing you can really do about making a change at this point in time, you were illegal and you’re out of the race.

“It felt like Lewis was trying to sort of build a case and save a little bit of face in it. He said it doesn’t make a difference, but it does, that’s why the rule is in place. Lowering the car generally always makes it faster, it’s one of the most powerful tools to giving the car more grip,” countered Patrick.

After celebrating on the COTA podium and attending the top three post-race press conference, Hamilton took the loss of a hard-earned second place on the chin, although it denied him 18 valuable points in his battle for second place in the 2023 F1 standings against Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

Lewis: There are far more driver’s cars that were illegal

United States Grand Prix: Lewis hamilton: There are far more driver's cars that were illegal

The Mercedes driver is adamant it was not only his and Leclerc’s car that suffered the damage. Only four were reportedly checked after the race. The whole lot cannot be checked due to time constraints, exacerbated by the rush of back-to-back Grand Prix weekends.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the Mexico City GP weekend, Hamilton returned to COTA with his thoughts: “Basically that was the first time we’d had a Sprint race there and they had only tested a few cars and 50 per cent of them got disqualified. There are far more driver’s cars that were illegal.”

Whatever the case, Hamilton’s former teammate, Jenson Button said of the aftermath: “I think Mercedes will be very cautious about it again because they know the FIA are on it immediately. They didn’t have much time to test the floor

“Coming here [Mexico] they will be a lot happier in terms of understanding what the floor does in terms of data. It’s nice to sleep on it and come to a fresh circuit to see what that car can do,” reckoned Button.

Hamilton ended day one of practice in Mexico in P7, only three-tenths down on Max Verstappen who was fastest all day Friday in his Red Bull, showing how tight the margins are at the top in modern F1, at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.