Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from second place in the US Grand Prix after running Max Verstappen’s Red Bull close for victory.
Hamilton was just two seconds behind Verstappen at the flag but his car was later declared illegal for excessive wear on the underfloor skid blocks.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc suffered the same fate after finishing sixth.
Hamilton’s disqualification promoted McLaren’s Lando Norris to second and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to third.
Verstappen was measured, slowly picking off the cars in front of him and then holding on for his 50th career win.
Hamilton passed Norris for second in the final laps but ran out of time to catch Verstappen for the lead.
What happened to Hamilton?
Hamilton’s disqualification meant it was difficult to draw conclusions from a race after which, before the late technical drama, hindsight had left Hamilton and Mercedes ruing a lost potential victory had they played the strategy differently.
The skid blocks are in place to prevent teams running cars too low, which can be a potential aerodynamic advantage.
The Red Bull did not have the pace off-set it has had so often this year and Norris and Hamilton made Verstappen work for the win.
But Mercedes’ inadvertent transgression confuses the picture of a race in which the team seemed to have made a step forward with an upgraded car.
Mercedes tried to make a one-stop strategy work while Verstappen and Norris went for a two, but the decision backfired on them and cost Hamilton more time than the margin by which he eventually lost the race.
Mercedes had to abandon the plan when Hamilton’s tyres suddenly lost performance just two laps later. That forced Hamilton on to an off-set strategy, where he had to catch and pass both the McLaren and the Red Bull if he was to win.
Hamilton managed to close in and passed Norris with six laps to go to take second place.