Force India thought they’d scored a double points finish. Haas thought they’d achieved their best ever result on home soil. But both teams will leave Austin disappointed after each having a car disqualified over fuel use irregularities.
Esteban Ocon finished Sunday’s race in the United States in eighth position, one place ahead of Haas’s Kevin Magnussen. But shortly after the race, the stewards announced both drivers were being investigated for possible breaches of the regulations, with the duo ultimately being hit with the biggest possible penalties.
In Ocon’s case, the stewards, having studied telemetry data, found that his car had exceeded the fuel mass flow limit of 100kg/hr on the opening lap of the race. Magnussen, meanwhile, was found to have used more than the maximum 105kg of fuel allowed during the race.
The decisions mean that Haas have now had a car disqualified from two of the last five races, having lost Romain Grosjean’s sixth-place finish in Italy to a technical discrepancy. The team appealed that decision with the hearing set for November 1 – and the American team may well choose to appeal the stewards' decision in Austin, as may Force India.
For both teams the decisions are a blow to their hopes of overhauling rivals in the constructors’ standings. Even before the disqualification, Haas lost significant ground to Renault in the fight for fourth place, with the Anglo-French team picking up 14 points with sixth and seventh in Austin.
Force India, meanwhile, ironically only lose one point in their chase of McLaren for P6 in the standings, with Sergio Perez – who finished 10th – promoted to eighth in his team mate’s stead.
Haas are now 22 points behind Renault, Force India 11 points behind McLaren – but both their losses are Toro Rosso and Sauber’s gain. Brendon Hartley originally finished in P11, but is promoted to ninth, with Marcus Ericsson going to tenth, giving the duo their third and fifth points finishes of the season respectively.