Cracking Open Pandora's Box: The Controversy Unleashed by Hamilton and Leclerc's F1 US GPwordpress,F1,USGP,controversy,Hamilton,Leclerc
Cracking Open Pandora's Box: The Controversy Unleashed by Hamilton and Leclerc's F1 US GP

Cracking Open Pandora’s Box: The Controversy Unleashed by Hamilton and Leclerc’s F1 US GP

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Analysis: Hamilton and Leclerc Disqualified from F1 US GP for Car Plank Rules Breach

The Technical Regulations

The disqualification of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc from the US Grand Prix has sparked controversy and debate in the world of Formula 1. The two drivers were found to have breached the FIA Technical Regulations for running with excessively worn floor planks. According to the regulations, the plank assembly can only wear by 1mm down to 9mm across a weekend. Hamilton and Leclerc‘s rear skids were deemed illegal, resulting in their disqualification.

Post-race scrutineering is a standard procedure in motorsport, aimed at ensuring compliance with technical regulations. However, the checks performed are not uniform across all cars. The FIA Technical Delegate, Jo Bauer, has the discretion to carry out checks on any cars entered in the competition. In the case of the US GP, four cars were reviewed, including the Mercedes and Ferrari of Hamilton and Leclerc, respectively.

Why Hamilton and Leclerc were caught out

The FIA has various indicators to identify potential non-compliant cars. In the case of worn floors, a beaten-up titanium skid plate can give off a strong smell that raises suspicion. Additionally, the onboard footage is monitored to see if the driver’s head is wobbling as a result of bottoming out over bumps. Furthermore, with the adoption of ground effects for the 2022 season, the FIA now measures vertical oscillations in the car to ensure the drivers are not put at risk. Excessive movements can attract attention and lead to further investigation.

Jo Bauer is not limited to checking only one car per team. If there are grounds to suspect that both Mercedes or both Ferraris are running too low, he has the authority to order spot checks on multiple cars. The fact that George Russell’s and Carlos Sainz’s cars were not checked suggests that Hamilton and Leclerc‘s individual setups were the cause of the breach. It is likely that their cars were running either a low ride height or a soft setup that allowed them to kiss the asphalt after hitting a bump.

Perfection versus pragmatism

While the FIA has mechanisms in place to identify non-compliant cars, it is practically impossible to check every car thoroughly. In the case of the US GP, only four out of 17 finishers had their floors checked. This means that there is a chance, however remote, that other cars might have finished with excessively worn planks. These cars would have wrongly scored points, further benefiting from Hamilton and Leclerc‘s disqualifications.

The FIA cites practical limitations for not being able to check all cars. The sprint format of the US GP weekend added to the challenge. With scrutineering taking place after each session, the limited time window between qualifying, the sprint race, and the full-length GP made it difficult to carry out comprehensive checks on all cars. The FIA has to balance speed with absolute thoroughness, prioritizing the smooth running of the race weekend.

Could the race result be appealed?

Teams have a 30-minute window starting immediately after the race to protest the result. However, in the case of the US GP, the technical delegate’s report on the floor checks was not issued until after this window had closed. This means that the race result cannot be appealed.

Furthermore, even if the protest and parc ferme windows were longer, rival teams would have been reluctant to formally question the race result. The sprint race format meant that they had not been able to accurately measure their own planks since Friday afternoon. There was a risk that protesting other cars could lead to their own cars being checked, identified, and potentially disqualified. The gamble was too significant for teams to take.

It is highly unlikely that Mercedes and Ferrari will appeal the disqualifications. The technical rules were breached, leaving no room for interpretation or exploitation. Disqualification was inevitable, as demonstrated by Sebastian Vettel’s exclusion in the 2021 Hungarian GP. Aston Martin successfully proved a fuel leak caused the breach, but the exclusion remained. Therefore, an appeal is unlikely to be successful.

In conclusion, the disqualifications of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc from the US GP have highlighted the challenges and limitations of post-race scrutineering. While there may be a chance that other cars also had non-compliant planks, the practical constraints of thorough checks make it impossible to guarantee absolute fairness. As Formula 1 continues to evolve, finding the right balance between speed and thoroughness will be crucial to maintaining the integrity of the sport.


Cracking Open Pandora
<< photo by Jenda Kubeš >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Edwards Jake

G'day, I'm Jake Edwards, the man on the street. I've been crisscrossing this great country, bringing you the human stories that make Australia what it is. From interviews with local legends to the everyday Aussie battlers, I'm here to tell your stories. So let's yarn, Australia

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