Mercedes have taken the opportunity to explain Lewis Hamilton's qualifying exclusion at the Brazilian Grand Prix from their perspective, insisting that they did not try to flout the rules. Hamilton topped qualifying at Interlagos but was excluded over a rear wing breach, with the DRS flap on his car opening more than the permitted amount. During the team's post-Brazilian GP debrief, Mike Elliott, Technical Director at Mercedes, talked through the scrutineering process and exactly where Hamilton's car fell foul of the regulations. "The simple answer is we failed a test that we needed to pass," said Elliott. "[But] it's actually a bit more nuanced than that. "Within the regulations there are two things, there are the Technical Regulations, which are the rules that we need to pass, and then there are Technical Directives, and they are issued by the FIA, and in general explanations as to how they are going to police those regulations. "In this case, you've got the main plane of the rear wing and you've got a flap. And there is a rule that states there is a minimum gap between those wings and a maximum gap when the DRS opens, and that maximum gap is 85mm. "That is written in those regulations and that is something we actually passed. The wing wasn't more than 85, or the flap wasn't more than 85mm away from the trailing edge. The reality was that we didn't pass the Technical Directive."
Mercedes' wing tested at higher forces
Elliott emphasised the lengths that Mercedes go to in an attempt to ensure that their cars are legal "at all times", with their wings frequently tested at higher forces than those required by the FIA. "Within the Technical Directives, they specify how that measurement is going to be taken," said Elliott. "What they say is that we need to pass a test where they push a cylinder of 85mm diameter into that gap and they need to be able to push that through with a minimum force of 10 newtons. And the reality is, while we passed that over the majority of the span, there was a small place where we didn't pass that test. "Now, just to put that into perspective, we obviously try to make sure that our cars are legal at all times - we don't want to take these sorts of penalties. "What we do is we test those wings in test and development, and in those tests we do exactly the same tests, but we do it with a much higher force, 30 newtons, and we pass. "We also test those wings when we get to the track, so on a Wednesday morning or a Thursday morning, we go through all those suites of tests and again that wing passed."
Mercedes yet to understand the issue
With the wing being impounded by the FIA after the checks, Elliott has admitted that Mercedes are not yet sure what caused the issue. "For some reason, we are yet to understand," added Elliott. "We had some sort of reliability issue, whether that was damage on track, whether that was something coming loose... We have yet to find that out because that wing is being bagged up and sort of FIA sealed."