After setting the fastest time in Friday qualifying, Hamilton was excluded from the results and sent to the back of the grid for Saturday’s sprint race after FIA tests found his DRS flap opened wider than the allowed 85mm.

Speaking following the sprint race on Saturday evening, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff confirmed that the wing had failed the test by the smallest of margins due to damage picked up on one side. 

Wolff admitted to reacting with “disbelief at how things went” and expressed his frustration at how the situation was handled. 

“With a certain respect for the stewards, it’s difficult in that situation as it’s not an easy ruling on such a contentious topic where it is about a world championship, and they need to look at the specific situation and not at the big picture,” Wolff said. 

“But I think how the process went from telling us, discovering we have marginally failed the test, we’re speaking 0.2 of a millimetre, to not allowing this to be fixed like the normal protocol would be, but rather than it being reported to the stewards, the bullet was out of the gun. 

“And I think that put the stewards in a very difficult situation to come up with the right judgement. But, to be honest, until late this afternoon, we believed that it was okay.

“The wing was damaged. One side was okay, the middle was okay. The right side was not okay, and that means we actually had a performance disadvantage. 

“And we thought in consideration of all these aspects the FIA would say there was damage and therefore we weren’t in breach of regulations. They also said there was nothing that happened with intent from our side.” 

Wolff was so shocked to receive the news of Hamilton’s disqualification that he initially thought Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows was playing a practical joke on him when he got the message. 

“We were reading ‘disqualified’, which honestly I couldn’t believe,” he explained. “I thought that Ron Meadows was making a joke when I saw the WhatsApp. 

"So strange things happen but you have to take it on the chin.” 

Mercedes decided against appealing the decision due to the risk of Hamilton losing all of his points from the weekend in the event the appeal failed. 

“In the past, sometimes there was a common sense buffer that didn’t exist yesterday or today,” Wolff said. “But it’s all to the dot within the regulations so you need to respect that.

“You need to acknowledge that it’s a fierce fight with several entities involved or stakeholders involved and take it on the chin.

“That’s why also we went against the route of appeal. We would have liked to show the weaknesses of the arguments of the system. 

“We didn’t because we didn’t want to lose all points for today and tomorrow in case of a failed appeal and it would drag the whole situation a few weeks out. 

“We need to do the racing on the track and if we lose, we lose and if we win, we win.”