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Hamilton and Leclerc disqualified from US GP, Sargeant scores first F1 point

Formula 1

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Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc have been thrown out of the results of the United States Grand Prix after their cars failed technical inspections.

The stewards confirmed the cars belonging to Hamilton, who finished second, and Leclerc, who took sixth, failed the minimum plank thickness check after the race.

The FIA stated Hamilton and Leclerc’s cars were two out of four that had their plank wear inspected after the race. The other two belonged to race winner Max Verstappen and Lando Norris. The FIA did not indicate the planks of the 13 other classified finishers, including the cars belonging to Hamilton and Leclerc’s team mates, were inspected.

As a result of Hamilton’s disqualification, Norris is promoted to second place. Leclerc’s team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr inherits the final place on the podium and Sergio Perez moves up to fourth.

The disqualification of Leclerc means other drivers move up two places, led by Hamilton’s team mate George Russell, who takes fifth. Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda each gain two places to sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.

The two Williams drivers, who originally finished out of the points, are promoted to the last two places. Alexander Albon takes ninth and Logan Sargeant 10th, meaning he scores the first point of his F1 career to date in his home race.

Since 1994, all Formula 1 cars have been required by the regulations to have a plank fitted to their underside which is measured for wear before and after races. If the plank wears beyond a certain limit, the car is ruled illegal. The limit is enforced to prevent teams running extremely low ride heights which may pose a safety risk.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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177 comments on “Hamilton and Leclerc disqualified from US GP, Sargeant scores first F1 point”

  1. Gut punch for leclerc after a dreadful race. And Mercedes making such a team technical error is galling after finally looking like they were competitive for a win.

    Checo rejoices.

    1. Probably they were competative by riding extremely low. Illegally low

      Perez is now in a better position defending his 2nd place in de WDC so that is nice

      1. Sikhumbuzo Khumalo
        23rd October 2023, 11:21

        Were they illegally low during the sprint race?

        1. Possible, but not checked.

        2. Well, they were running so low that it meant they were going to be disqualified from the main race. So l, yes, they were running artificially low in the sprint and gaining an advantage which they would.pay the price for on Sunday.

          Or I guess you could argue, if you prepared to get DSQ’d from the race in order to run lower in the sprint, then it’s all good.

        3. @Sikhumbuzo Khumalo
          Considering they set up the car for the complete distance and they can’t adjust it in between.

          But at the same time that would be the only loophole. If for any reason the race distance was shortened they might have been legal if that would coincide with the wear not being too much yet.

  2. Perez’s 2nd place is nearly a done deal, and not because of him.

    1. We’ll take it either way!

      Can’t win P2 if you are cheating. Just like VER didn’t get Pole for exceeding track limitson Friday. Fair is Fair

      1. So you think Max was cheating? Weird

      2. Imagine celebrating a pathetic P2 in the championship, 200 points behind a driver in the same car. Haha wow, Perez fans will really cling onto anything. He’s gone next season anyway, so enjoy another gifted result . He’ll never win on merit.

      3. I would amend that statement slighty: You can’t win if you get caught. Because let’s face it, everyone who’s ever won anything in F1 has cheated. I can’t think of a single winner who can honestly say they’ve never deliberately broken the rules… no team, no driver, no one. On this occasion however I don’t think anyone did cheat, I think they just got their sums wrong.

        1. Please tell me when JM Fangio cheated

  3. Feel bad for Lewis and Leclerc. I hate when final results change after the race due to penalties.

    But I understand that rules shall be followed …

    I’m wondering if Lewis was running his car lower than Russel, and that somewhat could explain the disparity in their performance this weekend.

    1. Nobody checked the car 63 so we’ll never know.

    2. That would explain the difference between the cars.

    3. Surely, if a car fails scrutineering like this then that team’s other car should be checked?

      If we know for sure that Hamilton and Leclerc’s cars broke the rules, how can Russell and Sainz be allowed to take points without the same checks?

      Logically, the teams would have taken a similar approach with each car.

      1. The FIA monitors the porpoissing matrix of all cars. The cars which bounce most, are inspected, and apperently those were the first 4 cars yesterday.

        1. Except that Leclerc finished 6th.

        2. Oops, swapped Sainz and Leclerc there

          1. Easily done, especially if you’re the Ferrari pit wall team :D

        3. podium and pole, not any suspicious cars. you are making things up

      2. Based on the article on motorsport.com they inspect the ride height if they suspect a worn skid tray. This could be based on smell of worn titanium, but also head movement in corners where the car could be bottoming out. Maybe radio messages about staying off the kerb may factor in too. So while Hamilton and Leclerc failed the test, Verstappen and Norris appeared suspicious but passed. Sainz, Russell etc did not demonstrate reason to inspect the floor.

      3. Russell wasn’t going fast enough to bottom out!

        Joking aside, I agree and I’d take it further and say don’t check the other car of the team that was found to be in breach… check all of them or none of them, because picking and choosing which ones to scrutinize leaves the whole thing wide open to suspicion of favouritism and corruption. (Not that the FIA has a reputation to protect, nor does it care, apparently).

        1. It was gut-wrenching news to read about this technical breach. I agree that if two cars were in breach, the other cars of the same team should be checked.

      4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd October 2023, 14:51

        @sonnycrockett interesting point…

  4. Robert Henning
    23rd October 2023, 1:35

    Yeah expected. Shouldn’t have run an illegal car and must have taken more precaution. Twice in 3 years by Merc. Embarrassing to breach these regs.

    1. To be fair we have no idea if every other car was also running an illegal plank at the end.. only two cars were checked and both were disqualified… Suggests more cars were likely also outside the regs… It is a bit odd that not all cars are checked… Surely it is possible this was caused by a circuit feature and that all cars should have been disqualified…

      1. only two cars were checked and both were disqualified

        That is an extraordinary allegation: of the 17 cars which were classified as having completed the race, only two cars were checked for one particular illegality, and both failed. No, sorry, that isn’t how the rules are supposed to work. Every car is supposed to be checked for the same illegalities. If you don’t want to check for one illegality then the right thing to do is to let it slide on all the cars.
        If, after inspecting two cars, the Stewards decided to cease checking the rest of the cars, then one has to presume they were scared most of the cars would end up being disqualified. Presumably this was because they believed the excessive wear on these two cars was caused by the poor track surface and not because of a failure by the team to set up the car correctly, and that the Stewards suspected most of the other competitors would have experienced the similar amounts of excessive wear. I really don’t know what the Stewards were supposed to do if they thought they’d end up disqualifying most of the drivers. It seems wrong to just disqualify the drivers of the two cars they did check, when they suspect many other cars had the same illegality caused by a problem they had no control over. Wouldn’t a better solution be to do something like adding a 10 second time penalty to those two particular drivers?

        1. Wouldn’t a better solution be to do something like adding a 10 second time penalty to those two particular drivers?

          If a car breaches the technical regulations it is excluded. No ifs, buts or less severe penalties. That noise is for the sporting regulations.

          1. Yep: constant DSQ for a non-compliant car has always been the way, and it’s the way it has to be. If the car doesn’t come with the regulations, it’s not a formula 1 car. Allow any wiggle room and teams will abuse it.

          2. If max would drive a car that is illegal, and gets 10s penalties. He would still be race winner in the majority of races. I dont think thats a good measure to take with illegal cars. More to win than to loose then, everybody would just build cars that dont meet the specs

        2. @drycrust

          If, after inspecting two cars, the Stewards decided to cease checking the rest of the cars, then one has to presume they were scared most of the cars would end up being disqualified.

          This isn’t the way it works. The FIA does not have the time or capacity to check every facet of every car for compliance, so they select only a handful of cars for this particular compliance check. I don’t know the exact criteria for selection, but I presume there is some randomness involved, which is enough to ensure all teams will try to make their cars compliant, whether they are racing for the win or for P17. Once those checks have been completed, I presume there is no provision in the regulations to then say “since some cars failed, we now want to check other cars”, because by the time it is discovered then the teams will already be packing up the rest of their cars and equipment and starting to ship them off back to the factory or next venue. It’s a logistical issue, and it just isn’t practical to do all of the same checks on every car on the grid.

          1. Keith, do you know if all cars finishing the race still have to go through the weighbridge procedure and provide the fuel sample?

          2. I presume there is some randomness involved

            What’s the likelihood of randomly selecting the P1, P2, P3 and P6 cars for inspection?

          3. Khurt, in terms of the way you expressed the problem, choosing from 22 possible cars, about one in 7,500. However, if you consider that they are only going to inspect cars which have finished in the points, I think it works out about one in 250 and that assumes a completely random choice. If they always checked the top three regardless then only one driver would be picked at random so then it becomes a one in seven chance. They also didn’t choose at random. Someone else kindly pointed out that they chose to inspect Hamilton and LeClerc because telementry from their cars indicated those two were bottoming out more frequently than other cars.

          4. If you take a sample of any matrix, and find a 50% failure then the FIA and Race Stewards should have called for a thorough inspection of EVERY car, not just shrugging shoulders and letting the 2 Dsq’s stand.

            Because if for instance 14 other cars failed the test then there has to be a reason, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the driver except maybe speed and vector through a circuit.
            If it was found that the circuit surface was at fault then the rules should be relaxed for the length of time the circuit displays such signs of being so abrasive.

            Presumably the cars will have passed scrutineering before going into PF, which means that the cars would not have been maladjusted beforehand, so no cheat at the setup.

            Needs the rules being investigated at the least !

        3. There is no way to be sure how much benefit Hamilton and Leclerc got from running an entire race with a non-compliant car, so it would be unfair to give a random penalty that may be far too light.

          Even if you knew the benefit, it would still be completely unfair to penalize the difference with how the car would perform with a perfect setup that has exactly the right level of wear of the skid plate. Any properly compliant car will be set up with a safety margin and can thus never have the perfect setup.

          A DQ is the only fair move.

      2. We know that four cars were inspected, one each from RB, McL, F and M. Only Ham and Lec failed, Max and Lando were legal. This is how the rules are.
        Ham and Lec had little to low ride height. Maybe OK after just 19 laps in the Sprint, but not enough for a full race at a circuit as bumpy as Cota. Took a risk of going close to the edge in ride height, and paid for it.
        I won’t call it cheating as there was nothing done to hide it, just taking a risk a little to close.

        1. I wouldn’t even call it taking a risk. The teams only had one session to set up the cars, so they only did about 20 laps in total during FP1, not enough for them to finalise their ride height and detect plank wear. Then they had the added problem of more laps than normal due to the sprint race, and the COTA track proving to be unusually bumpy. Since only four cars were tested, and two failed, we’ll never know how many others were illegal by the end of the racem and how many were 0.1m away from being illegal. So I don’t think they “risked” it, just had insufficient data in the time available to realise the extent of the problem.

          1. I disagree. It was Mercedes who were 2 second faster in racepace in FP1. So it looks like they were the only team on a low fuel load, where other teams experimented with much heavier cars

          2. I’m pretty sure the teams would have argued the point and not just accepted it if they believed it to be unfair. The fact that they just “took it on the chin” without any argument tells me they knew they were taking a chance.

          3. Ferrari described it (in hindsight) as having taken a risk – being a tad too low, and they mentioned the wind might have been an extra factor with wear (the same video also mentioned that they had constantly been upping their ride height during FP1 while they monitored the floor).

          4. You described exactly what taking a risk means ;)

            If you don’t have enough data you err on the safe side (monster truck), or risk being disqualified.

            Also if the Sprint taught them that the car was too low, they could always adjust it and start from the pit lane.
            Another way they could have managed the ‘risk’.

          5. Also if the Sprint taught them that the car was too low, they could always adjust it and start from the pit lane.

            Based on comments below, this might not be possible.
            I will check the regulations.

      3. It is a bit odd that not all cars are checked…

        It’s the way they do it these days at every event. Has been for many years.

        Surely it is possible this was caused by a circuit feature and that all cars should have been disqualified…

        No, it was caused by these two teams (that we know of) not setting their car up properly to stay legal.

        Much like track limits, it’s up to the competitors to stay within the rules at all times – not to lobby for the rules to change when they’ve chosen not to respect them.

      4. Actually, 4 cars were checked. Those who finished 1st – 3rd, and Leclerc who finished 6th.

        1. Actually, 4 cars were checked. Those who finished 1st – 3rd, and Leclerc who finished 6th.

          Does that seem at all random to you? Are the podium cars always checked?

    2. Twice in 3 years? When was the other time?

      1. Brazil 2021, illegal rearwing.

        1. damaged rearwing it was. only FIA wanted to influence the WDC.

  5. I wonder if they are able to change the plank after the sprint.

    1. Dave, apparently not. Wolff said the excess wear was probably a result of the extra laps from the sprint race and the bumpy nature of the track.

      1. And their setup…
        Oops – he forgot to mention that rather important contributing factor.

        1. yeah, because the setup should have been fine. this is a track issue.

    2. @dmw No, planks can’t be changed in parc ferme except in cases of provable accident damage.

      1. Are you sure you cannot change them like for like if you see other damage, for example from wear?

        1. @bascb No, as you have to treat the Sprint as a 100km race, with a red flag period followed by the 305km Grand Prix itself.
          Therefore parts cannot be changed. Unless you’re happy to start from the pitlane

        2. Bas, I think plank damage is treated as wear and tear, not accidental damage. Regardless of that, changing the plank wouldn’t be trivial. The rules say they should be bolted to the base of the car, but teams also glue them into place, and they have to be precisely aligned so they don’t damage the airflow, so you cannot do a speed change of a plank.

  6. There are lots of unanswered questions. Parc fermé rules mean this is the same car that raced in the Sprint Race. Presumably the car was checked after that race and it was fine then. How can you have a car which was cleared after the Sprint Race, presumably with only insignificant damage to the plank, and then at the next race it fails because of significant damage? I’m guessing the teams are supposed to replace the plank between the Sprint Race and the Race, or is that wrong? I wonder what changed to make the cars fail this time.

    1. Kerb damage?

      1. David, I think that the plank is supposed to have a minimum thickness of 9mm at the end, but the scrutineers make allowance for damage, e.g. running over debris and knocking a hole in it.

    2. Well I thought all cars were checked, but it seems from this article that they are not. So it is possible non were checked or that two were checked. But then they have planks so that they are ran a certain height. So they could have been fine before the race but worn after. But then if 100% of the cars they checked failed then it is likely that far more cars also wore their planks but we’re simy not checked.

      This seems unfair.

      1. Lee, they also checked Verstappen and Norris’s planks, so four in total. It seems strange to me that all cars scoring points do not get the same scrutineering checks. For instance, Perez might have had this issue, but has now made a big points fain in his bid for second place in the WDC.

        1. I understand doing checks on a sample basis (though F1 is rich enough to do more), but if they find an issue with one car in a team, they should definitely check the other.

          This exposes potential downsides of just 1 practice prior to Quali. Personally I enjoy the sprints and think they’ve given us good racing, but could we not do FP1 on Thur, FP2 + FP3 on Fri, Sprint Quali + Sprint Race on Sat, Full Quali + Full Race on Sun?

          That way Friday, Saturday and Sunday are all bigger more interesting days than your typical weekend. Also, you could then allow car changes after the Sprint Race but before the Full Quali.

          1. I understand doing checks on a sample basis (though F1 is rich enough to do more), but if they find an issue with one car in a team, they should definitely check the other.

            It’s not about being rich or nor, but rather about time Alex. The FIA scrutineering team of Jo Bauer has a timeframe within they are to do the post race checks. Otherwise they would take days or even weeks to check all possible things. They actually check boatloads of stuff with some random pickings – see the document stating what they actually checked this race (pdf)

            To get the cars to the next event there is a limit by which time the teams have to get their cars back to disassemble and pack them up for transport.

    3. Read through the official FIA document. You can get the answer there.

      Basically is compounded degradation. Sprint race is only 20 laps. At the time the car was legal to race.

      They can’t penalize for something that it hasn’t happened yet.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd October 2023, 3:41

        Wait, does it include the sprint race? I guess it does as they probably run the same plank.

        Without the sprint race, there’s a change they may have been legal. This is hilarious stuff… Good thing Verstappen’s car didn’t fail cause for sure they would have not penalized him – loved that overtake on Leclerc where he just drove straight and turned at the end blocking the entire road.

        1. Good thing Verstappen’s car didn’t fail cause for sure they would have not penalized him….

          Give it a break. Verstappen was checked and passed; Hamilton didn’t. Pretty cut and dried. Hamilton drove a great race and almost won. Verstappen did win.

        2. @freelittlebirds The whole purpose of the plank is to prove if a car is running too low. The wear caused on this during a 100km Sprint will be less than over the additional 305km of the Grand Prix itself. So Hamilton’s and Leclerc’s planks may have been wearing during the Sprint, but not by enough to fail scrutineering. However, by the end of the Grand Prix, the wear was such that they did fail

        3. @freelittlebirds The racing move where you claim the apex and run to the outside of the track ‘hanging your opponent out to dry’ has almost always been allowed (the almost being a problem with inconsistent stewarding). Hamilton has used this move countless times in the past – just ask Rosberg how he used to enjoy turn 1 of every other grand prix. But in this case the stewards seemed happy for Leclerc to use the run-off to come back at Verstappen, which he did for a couple of corners before losing out anyway. Remains to be seen if they would have taken action if Leclerc had regained the position by using the run-off given that he was forced to be there in the first place.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd October 2023, 12:37

            @keithedin sorry but I’ve never seen that move executed with such a late turn. I thought Verstappen was going to go straight there. Perhaps the stewards need to take the turn into the corner into consideration to prevent straight corner driving that Verstappen does.

        4. Michael, you might want to rewatch the 2015 start of the US gp.
          Guy on the inside was much more aggressive. It’s common here

    4. I am sure that the teams inspect their cars after the sprint, yeah (they check during FP1 and after it as well). I’ve seen mentions that for all 4 cars that started from the pitlane cranking up the ride height (and replacing the plank?) was a factor for their choice.

      The others must have deemed the wear to be OK, or they must have decided to take the risk and hope it might be OK since they would lose a lot by giving up a grid spot towards the front.

      I am a bit surprised that they cannot change the plank after the sprint (if that is true), I thought they can replace parts like for like if needed. Then again, the FIA might ask about what caused it, which might give an awkward situation.

      It makes sense that they checked the car on pole and all cars on the podium – there would be just far too many things to check if they wanted to check everything on all of the cars, they would never get going with packing before monday afternoon.

      1. Ride height is quite easy to check though – in the BTCC they have a ride height gauge on wheels which is rolled under the car as soon as they park up after the race – if it doesn’t fit then it is immediately obvious that someone’s in trouble.

        I can understand why detailed scrutineering of each car isn’t feasible, but ride height (along with weight) should be par for the course, you’d have thought.

        I do agree, though, that if you have to pick and choose, it makes sense to start with the podium finishers since they are the ones most likely to have gained from having an illegal car.

        1. I should add, of course, that the purpose of the plank is to check whether the car’s ride height has been too low while it’s in motion, even if it clears any ride height checks while stationary. That might be a bit harder to do on every car, of course.

          1. @red-andy and of course due to the downforce, the cars will run lower naturally than they sit when stationary

          2. Yeah, the dynamic ride height is probably really hard to measure and make sure it is met at all (most) parts of the floor with different tyres using different profile heights, the changing dynamics with tyre wear and burn off of fuel, influence of aerodynamics, bumps etc.

            I guess we haven’t come up with a more reliable and easily measurable tool than the plank?

    5. @drycrust The who purpose of the plank is to prove if a car is running too low. The wear caused on this during a 100km Sprint will be less than over the additional 305km of the Grand Prix itself. So Hamilton’s and Leclerc’s planks may have been wearing during the Sprint, but not by enough to fail scrutineering. However, by the end of the Grand Prix, the wear was such that they did fail

  7. An unfortunate coda at COTA for Lewis and Charles.

  8. Really pleased for Sargeant. Finally on the board. Good job finishing just 1 place behind Albon.

  9. Absolutely shocking that Mercedes and Ferrari would attempt to cheat

    1. Right? Guess they did learn something from RB after all.

    2. too much wear is cheating? then pirelli also cheated, cause their hard tire also didnt prove as expected

  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    23rd October 2023, 3:36

    Wow, 2 disqualifications for big teams – why are they only inspecting 4 cars out of 20 especially if there’s such a surprising number of disqualifications?

    That means 50% of the inspected cars failed the test which implies 9 out of 18 cars would have failed… Free points!

    1. Other races they only inspect 2 cars’ floors, so they did extra checks. It’s all on the FIA site.

    2. The rules are that all the planks of all the finishers are supposed to be inspected, every race. The issue is not that 2 drivers got disqualified, it’s that a whole bunch of people who were required to be checked weren’t.

      This is starting to look like an area where the FIA has become consistently sloppy.

      1. It would take days to inspect all cars on all elements. That’s way they never do that.

        1. days. seems like a bit of a miscalculation…

          1. No, it’s not a miscalculation.
            Just check the official FiA site, to see which inspections are done, on which cars.

          2. well, measuring 20 planks can be done within less than days. and thats what this is about.

      2. Are you really certain that the FIA is supposed to inspect all the cars? To me it makes sense that they inspect the cars on the podium, the polesitter and/or another car or two. There is just far too much to inspect if you’d want to inspect all cars the FIA would need days to do so.

        With other sports they also often make the people who finish on the podium take extra doping tests and tests of their material if applicable, plus a few random others

        1. I have some background in manufacturing, and it would make sense to use similar methodology.

          There, you would generally take random samples and inspect them. When your processes are under control (very few failures) you’d make that a small sample. However, if you get a significant number of failures, you increase that sample size to get more information so you can bring it back under control.

          Here, 50% of cars sampled failed the inspection. These were from two different teams. Normally, zero cars fail. It’s highly likely, therefore, that more cars would fail if sampled. Basically, in not inspecting more cars, the FIA are saying “we know there are likely to be a lot more non-complaint cars, but we don’t care, we haven’t seen them”.

          If this is just how the procedures work, they need updating. I was under the impression that every car was scrutineered after the race. If they are going to test a sample, they need to expand that sample if the number of failures is high.

          1. I take your point, but the situations are slightly different. In manufacturing you are trying to produce a product within certain specifications, usually for commercial purposes. If a sample has a high failure rate, that’s a big problem because it could indicate problems wih a whole batch that impact your bottom line, commercially speaking.

            The FIA’s role is sporting, not commercial. In theory it doesn’t matter whether 0% or 50% or 100% of the sampled cars fail the checks; the FIA’s job is simply to inspect the cars and apply the rules as they are written. Put simply, they aren’t looking for systemic problems in the same way as you would in a commercial context; their interest is in the individual competitors, not the big picture.

          2. From the reporting, it seems that they “checked” four cars because a preliminary “look” only gave them reason to spend time on four. Ideally they’d check everything all the time, but that’s neither needed (as you note) nor feasible.

        2. Doping tests are not a good analogy. Random checks are intended to catch (and work effectively in discouraging) transgressions that are a) deliberate and b) long-term.

          Doping fits those criteria. A freak set of circumstances catching participants out does not.

          Just imagine a situation where all four cars are found illegal. We would all have the nagging suspicion that perhaps every other car was illegal, too, but never know for sure. Would the ‘sorry, no time for more checks’ explanation feel right even then?

          1. In theory it doesn’t matter whether 0% or 50% or 100%

            their interest is in the individual competitors, not the big picture

            Their interest is (or should be) ensuring fairness. That would be severely compromised by a situation where every inspected car fails but the inspection stops there and spares everyone else.

      3. It is unfeasible to have the FIA completely deconstruct all 20 cars and check them thoroughly. They look for telltale signs on the cars and then make checks accordingly. They checked those four cars because there were signs of higher wear than the other.

        1. podium and pole. obvious signs. lol

    3. Checking Mercedes gives statistical the highest chance for an illegal car. So it’s an obvious choice.

      1. especially for alonso fans.

  11. I’ve never enjoyed the results more, after a race, than after reading this article.

  12. yeah, only 4 cars were checked: the podium sitters and Leclerc .

    Which now begs the question: Saint is now on the podium, but is the plank on his car passing the min thickness given he probably ran a very similar spec to Charles?

    That’s just bad, as championship positions could get decided by such random decisions from FIA.

    1. @gechichan More than that, it could determine how the Ferrari drivers are treated, relative to each other, in future years.

      1. Ferrari will certainly know the situation (they’d surely have a look at Sainz plank internally) and there is no good reason to treat them differently now, even if it means that he is now slightly ahead of Leclers, and Norris jumped Leclerc.

  13. Thank God it wasn’t Hamilton that won the race and then disqualified, can’t imagine the outburst from fans and conspiracy theory if that happened.

  14. There are plenty of planks in the realm of F1, that’s for sure
    The rulebook is becoming ridiculous and the enforcement is haphazard at best.

    1. @michaelv12 Tell me you don’t undertsand F1 without telling me, etc.

      1. Another thing I don’t understand is your comment.

  15. I didn’t see DSQs coming, & so, in hindsight, not winning on the road was probably good, as losing a victory to technical infringement is worse than any other position.
    Good for Sargeant to finally get his maiden point in F1, even if only through DSQs, but still, & even with his original finishing position, he already had a decent race.

    1. Yes, he at least managed to get right behind albon, compared to the usual 7-8 cars inbetween the 2 williams.

  16. It would be nice if they checked all the cars if they found one of their initial sample failed the test.

  17. I hate changing results after the race, mostly due to delayed penalties .. but this is understandable, still annoying.

    A sample check is fine because it usually prevents teams from fitting illegal parts. But ride height is nothing illegal and can change per car. They should have checked every car after every race. Especially with the introduction of these ground effect cars because the ride height is an even bigger performance differentiator. It pays to be on the edge.. and it pays more if you’re over it actually, not unlike track limits these days

    1. @baasbas
      Also, I blame the annoying sprint format for this. I just hate the idea of the teams having to guestimate set up. Just to try and mix things up a bit. Well it sucks. I’m 100% sure that on a normal weekend Mercedes (and Ferrari) would have gotten their ride height sorted and Hamilton would have been rewarded for having a good weekend. Okay, the car would probably lose some performance so maybe a shot at the win would be out of reach, but I’m assuming a podium would still be on? That would mean he would still outscore Perez.
      THIS is the unpredictability people want to spice up the show and I hate it

      1. Did you just tag yourself, in a reply to yourself…?

        Teams didn’t do anything different here than they do anywhere else or with any other event schedule. It has nothing to do with the sprint and everything to do with how much risk they were prepared to take to make their car faster. They all know it’s bumpy at COTA, and they know they need to raise the car to prevent bottoming, at the cost of making it slower.
        Risk vs Reward.

        THIS is the unpredictability people want to spice up the show and I hate it

        Perhaps if the teams (in conjunction with the CRH) hadn’t been pushing so hard for so long to remove all the other variables F1 used to offer, it mightn’t have come to this…
        Unpredictability in such sporting entertainment is never a bad thing, IMO. Never forget that F1 is, and always will be, entertainment.

        This particular kind of unpredictability was entirely a result of the teams’ own choices, anyway. That’s who you need to blame if you don’t like it.

        1. @S
          I wouldn’t call it a choice. It was a mistake. And why do you seem to think I don’t blame the teams? It was their mistake and they paid the price. It was all fair (although I’d rather see more cars checked because it seems likely there were more falling foul to the same rule).

          But, it was a mistake induced by a set of rules to limit testing to a minimum… This was exactly what they aimed for when changing the rule. So it works as designed. I don’t like the outcome though.

          Never forget that F1 is, and always will be, entertainment.

          That’s it, I’ve finally found something we agree on!
          I just feel when they limit testing, they’re trying a bit too hard to artificially increase the entertainment part. In my eyes it’s not entertaining to see teams fail and get disqualified, voiding any excitement I might have had during the race

          1. But, it was a mistake induced by a set of rules to limit testing to a minimum

            They could easily have set their cars up just a bit higher and avoided any chance of disqualification, and even progressively lowered them during practice – but instead they chose performance over guaranteed legality.
            Like I said – a choice. The wrong one – but still, their own choice. Nobody forced it on them.

            Arguably the most important point to consider here is that all the other teams had the exact same amount of practice time and didn’t all come to the same setup conclusions….

            I just feel when they limit testing, they’re trying a bit too hard to artificially increase the entertainment part.

            Every aspect of F1 is artificial, though. Where each of us draw the line is entirely subjective.
            F1 have drawn theirs, and the teams are happy to go along with them.

            In my eyes it’s not entertaining to see teams fail and get disqualified, voiding any excitement I might have had during the race

            So it’s only not entertaining in hindsight..?
            At least you still had fun at the time though, right? Blissful ignorance, so to speak.

            If such generously funded, highly experienced and massively well prepared teams are failing on such basic matters, then I can’t help but find it satisfying on a certain level. If nothing else, it helps in one tiny way to show just how massive a task it is to compete in professional motorsport.

  18. Obviously the chances are extremely high that other cars would have been disqualified too had they been inspected.
    Added to that sense of distortion is the fact that the sprint race simultaneously adds more wear, 20 laps worth, without teams being able to check and adjust for that wear after the sprint and prior to the actual GP.
    Congratulations to Lando on being promoted to second. I’m sure he’ll be as overjoyed as he sounded in taking third. All that racing we saw from Hamilton and Leclerc didn’t exist then. Scrubbed from history. I didn’t think this season could become more devoid of significance, but FIA found a way. Is there much point in watching any more before 2024?

    1. It was Ferrari and Mercedes who chose to run illegal cars, not the FIA. Blame them.

      1. Apparently 1 ferrari and 1 merc cars were legal, or at least they didn’t get checked.

      2. @red-andy
        While you’re not wrong, it was the Sprint format which took away testing. Locking teams into a set up. The circumstances were deliberately put in place to try and trip up the teams..
        So now they have tripped.
        And everyone is happy I guess, rejoicing in the bliss of unpredictability

        1. Robert Henning
          23rd October 2023, 11:02

          I am sure Mercedes and Ferrari are both innocent teams that had no idea about the Sprint Weekend, the bumpy nature of COTA and even better they didn’t observe that RB was running their car higher.

          Blame game is insane, instead of pointing fingers at the culprits.

          1. @baasbas doesn’t place the responsibility on the drivers for driving their cars outside of the track limits, either…

          2. @Robert Henning
            What are you on about? My comment literally starts with saying he’s not wrong. Ferrari and Mercedes got it wrong. Others did a better job and therefore they are out. That is their fault.

            The fact that the circumstances were deliberately put in place to try and let teams make mistakes isn’t. Those were put there to ‘spice up the show’. And this is a result from that. And it leaves me as a viewer deflated after a race where it seems there was a lot of tension… but there wasn’t. So to me these silly ideas about spicing up the show are horrible and ruining my viewing experience

          3. I think you’re missing the point.

            We now have these ridiculous sprint races, that in reality are compromising the main race – because not enough time can be spent on set up.

            Of course more set up time means that Max would have time to work out that he had better tyre choices and so might have won by 30s.

            That’s not the point though – the point is the sports need to interfere with a weekend that had worked fine for years.

          4. @S
            It seems like you make an actual effort to misunderstand what I’m trying to say. Your claim I don’t hold drivers responsible for track limit violations is just plain wrong, I do. But since you brought up track limits, there is actually a bit of an overlap with this. That is correct.
            All I’m saying is: if you change the rules a certain way, then there is a certain result as an outcome to deal with. Cause and effect. That applies to both situations, and I happen to dislike both of them.

            A result of car park style corners with only a white stripe of paint on it is: a certain amount of lap times will be deleted and some penalties will be applied. Which would be fine but it means we see a quali session with constantly times popping up and disappearing again and race results changed hours after the actual race (was about 5 hours in Austria?).

            A result of cutting down testing to only 1 short session and then locking down the set up is: an increase of the error rate of teams so we’ll get more variance in performance from track to track and an increase in unpredictability. Which would be fine but it means as a viewer we are invested in a race where we see tension build, where the lead is under threat, where Hamilton and Leclerc were fighting and it now appears it was all fake, all for nothing.

            It’s creeping towards the zebra crossing conundrum. In the UK you have right of way when as a pedestrian you are on the zebra crossing. But there is a white van speeding towards you. You can stop walking, conceding your right of way… Or, you can walk on because you are right. And also be dead. How bad do you want to be right? (learned from my driving instructors so many years ago…)

            Strictly speaking, the cutting back on testing gave us exactly what was intended. A variance in performance and ‘the show was spiced up’. Ferrari and Mercedes messed up, just as intended. So they were right, right?

            We rarely see a DSQ for plank wear because they almost always get it right during testing. If this was a regular weekend I think it is fair to assume they would, like almost always. Then Hamilton would still have a great weekend. We don’t know how much performance would have been lost from his car but it doesn’t sound unreasonable he would still be in contention for a podium spot. It might take away some excitement in the way he maybe could not challenge Verstappen during the race. But he would have scored more points than Perez, making second place in the standings a bit more interesting. But as things stand, all excitement is now void because of him and Leclerc being disqualified.
            So in my opinion, I just don’t like the price paid for the added spice.

      3. Its more logical to imply half the field was illegal, as 50 % of the checked cars were. To not check the others is nothing but stupid.

  19. Alonso retired from the race due to floor damage, so it seems plausible that the cars’ undersides took more punishment from the track than had been predicted. That could account for these DQs too.

    1. Either that or they miscalculated the required adjustment. The Red Bulls spent more time in DRS than the Astons and were therefore faster for longer so you’d expect them to have more wear if they were set up the same, but Verstappen’s car was OK. I think Ferrari and Merc should have just taken it on ther chin straight away instead of arguing about the sprint format tyhrowing things off… it was the same for everyone. My only issue is that only 4 cars were checked and that means some other illegal cars might have some points on the board that they shouldn’t have.

      1. To counter that argument – DRS takes away rear downforce to make you go faster in a straight, so the car would have been pushed down less than running with the full effect of the rear wing PG.

    2. @red-andy

      Alonso retired from the race due to floor damage, so it seems plausible that the cars’ undersides took more punishment from the track than had been predicted.

      The quoted reason for both AMs (and Haas) starting from the pit lane was that they had problems with the ride height and chose the pit lane start to avoid problems in the race.
      Something strange if they raised the ride height and still had issues.

  20. I’ve read somewhere else, that the FIA are monitoring the porpoissing on all cars, and that cars which suffer the most are inspected.
    So the inspections of the planks are not random, but only on suspicious cars.

    Looks like Toto’s porpoising rules have bounced back into his face.

    1. Stop making up things. The checked the podium finishers, plus one Ferrari.

      1. Madmax, that’s what the FIA say.
        Leclerc was not on the podium. Other races they only check 1 or 2 floors, sometimes none.
        This race they had indications to check 4 floors.

        Who is making up things?

        1. you are. pole and podium was checked, not suspicious cars.

    2. Considering who were checked, I’d say the podium places and the polesitter were earmarkedin advance. One hell of a coincidence otherwise.

  21. The rules are the rules, and I see no problem with how they were applied (this time).
    However, I think this rule should be changed. We are not talking about a performance issue, this is a safety issue, as the planks are there to stop cars from riding too low and basically become flying bombs. It is surprising to me that this is not a standard inspection, it should be done on all the cars on the grid.

    1. @tielemst
      But it is a performance issue? Actually, a very big one. It wasn’t too long ago where they were pushing drivers physically to the edge just to be able to drop the car a bit more (resulting in severe bouncing). With these ground effect cars with intricate floors, ride height is the easiest way to cheat. Not saying Mercedes and Ferrari were cheating, but they did mess up assessing the risk they took. (and for that I blame the Sprint format) I assumed all planks were checked after every race already.
      You’re not wrong about safety of course.

      1. The ride height is of course a way to influence the performance, but the plank is a standard precaution that has no (positive) impact on performance. It is just there to measure if teams are following the rules with safety in mind. That’s why I refer to it as a safety issue.

  22. Surely the whole race needs to be declared null and void? That is the rule for when one team cheats, right?

    1. Funny, the result of Hungary 2021 should be cancelled due to Vettels DSQ then.

  23. Just another actual GP ruined because of having sprint race weekends. Pointless gimmicks that have detracted from the main event numerous times this year not least having the WDC decided in one of them and not the GP.

  24. 13 other finishers were not scrutinized, and 8 of those scored points including the ones who moved up after the disqualifications. Who knows how many cars of those 8 cars scored points with illegal floors? And how many cars that finished out of the points would have scored if all cars had been scrutinized? We’ll never know and we SHOULD know. A sensor in the plank is EASY, you just use exactly the same device that tells you when the brake blocks on your road car are worn down, so there’s absolutely no need for this essentially random system. No complaints about the scrutiny itself, Ferrari and Merc either understimated the expected wear or simply got their sums wrong on the ride height and spring settings, I’m just saying you can’t have a system which means if cars are outside the regs, some will get caught and others won’t.

    1. I’m just saying you can’t have a system which means if cars are outside the regs, some will get caught and others won’t.

      But F1 does. They have two of them, actually.
      The other set was also prominent at COTA – leading to them painting some kerbs white.

  25. Maybe if the surface at Austin wasn’t in such a terrible condition plank wear wouldn’t be such a significant risk.

    1. It’s not the only bumpy track. If you had a standard that ruled out COTA on that basis it would also rule out Interlagos and at least half a dozen street circuits. I see bumpy tracks as a challenge for the teams to adapt to, and a couple of teams got it wrong (plus however many got away with it).

  26. Robert Henning
    23rd October 2023, 9:50

    People blaming the FIA and the sprint weekend are borderline hilarious.

    Red Bull increased their ride height significantly to exactly prevent this. They lost downforce and subsequently lost their advantage as well. Of course they have the best driver and are operationally superior, and hence won but that’s a different discussion.

    Mercedes chose to run their car low (this causes bottoming out and back pain by the way) and wanted to get maximum performance with their new floor. Hamilton would have probably had a not so good race had they run a legal car, and Leclerc might not have gotten pole had Ferrari run a legal car as well.

    Red Bull already had to go through these shenanigans at Belgium race where Max lifts through Eau Rouge as they had setup the car low.

    It is a challenge for everyone and in this case, knowing the consequences well (Merc afterall pushed for TD039), Merc still ran an illegal car. Right decision, end of.

    1. RBR did not raise the ride height to prevent that. They did it for other reasons. Stick to facts.

      1. Robert Henning
        23rd October 2023, 10:57

        What are the other reasons Mister Mad Max?

        If it is factual, please let me know about these facts.

      2. How do you know? I’ve not seen any comments from RB on it either way.

        However, since the RB thrives when they do not have to raise the car, probability logic says they chose to do so to prevent bottoming out too much on a well known bumpy track, as Robert stated.

        1. yep, they did it for performance reasons. not because of too much plank-wear – thats just a distorted fan opinion.

  27. Seems totally unfair to only check 4 out of the 18 cars who finished the race.

    1. If they’d checked all cars then half the field could have been disqualified.
      Instead they orchestrate a check of selected cars. This creates lots of drama and clicks (and ad revenue) as we can see in this thread alone.

      F1: a sport that won the entire world and lost its soul.

      1. ‘F1: a sport that won the entire world and lost its soul.’

        This comment of yours is describes F1 to perfection

      2. They’ll have to decide which they value more, clicks after the race, or people watching the race, because arbitrary and mindless race changing results like this pretty much kill my desire to bother watching the actual races.

  28. Can’t they check the ride height of the cars *before* the race? Would seem to be sensible to avoid this kind of nonsense.

    1. It’s not the ride height itself that’s the problem. During the race the cars will bottom and subsequently the plank wears.
      So testing is only sensible after the race

    2. No because the cars squat due to all the forces combined with the suspension. The plank is actually a pretty good and simple solution to check the outcome if a car was too low without having to check all variables. You only have to check the end result

    3. Can’t they check the ride height of the cars *before* the race?

      This was attempted in 1981. Teams built cars with levers or pneumatic systems which allowed the cars to be lowered when they were on track, and raised when they came into the pits so they could pass the inspection.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd October 2023, 14:50

        @keithcollantine you mean, they tried to get around the regs by changing the height? ;-)

  29. Just comparing the track times, sprint and race, can tell you there must be something going on. So they checked and were right.

    1. Please explain yourself.

      You seem to implying that their improved times were entirely due to the plank issue – which is extremely unlikely, because if there was no sprint race the plank could easily have passed.

      1. @banbrorace
        We can’t know for sure. But we do know these ground effect cars are very sensitive to ride height. It is a big performance differentiator. And because the effect is significant, I thought they checked all planks of all cars after every race. But they don’t. Seems like an omission to me.

        Don’t forget that if they don’t do the sprint, the race distance is longer. So with the same ride height they still would have worn the plank too much. What is more likely though is that when there is no sprint there is more testing. They would have caught this error in testing and probably raised the car enough. What we don’t know is how much performance it would have cost them though…

  30. I think it’s safe to assume that Sainz’ and Russell’s cars were also running illegal parts, and I think that when something like this happens, they have to check second cars too. Why should they get away with only one out of two cars being disqualified?

    1. The parts weren’t illegal as such Dex, but since the plank wear is an effect of running too low, that means plank wear is induced over time during the race. So at the start of the race it would have been fine, but by the end not anymore.

      1. @bascb

        but since the plank wear is an effect of running too low

        Not necessarily as there has been cases in the past of the plank been worn/damaged due to outside factors rather than anything the team did.

        Running wide over a kerb in an odd way or going onto a bumpy part of a runoff (Or gravel) you wouldn’t usually use or due to running over some other debris.

        Schumacher at Spa in 1994 comes to mind where a part of the plank was damaged due to the way he spun over a kerb with the central part of the car beached over it during the rotation (They disqualified him anyway despite the team been able to prove it was damage caused during that spin).

        1. This says enough about how much of an argument people saying schumacher should lose the title for adelaide have: the only reason hill was even in contention was schumacher was unfairly excluded from 25% of the races that year, silverstone don’t know he didn’t give back the position to hill, then dq for that + excessive penalty of 2 races ban + a well deserved win in spa taken away by plank damage.

  31. So did they check the other drivers planks or didn’t they? And if not, what’s to say that Sainz or Perez or Sargeant or anyone else who scored more points as a result of these disqualifications wasn’t running an illegal car if they didn’t check?
    You can’t start disqualifying cars for technical infringements if you aren’t checking them all equally!

    1. Exactly this.

    2. Start with Checo. He was unusually close to the top three.

  32. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    23rd October 2023, 14:55

    Looks like all bases have been covered with the obvious glaring omission being the sister cars.

    Norris and Verstappen’s cars past the test so a 50% failure rate ought to be a red flag to check all cars, IMO.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      23rd October 2023, 17:26

      @andyfromsandy I agree, such a high and unusual failure rate should have warranted a full inspection to prevent this from being an issue next year as well.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      23rd October 2023, 17:26

      Maybe COTA needs to address the underlying issue as it seems to be specific to the track.

  33. So only 2 cars were confirmed to be legal. All others are left in doubt. Nice work FIA.

    1. @madmax
      Actually, it’s worse.
      Only 2 cars were confirmed to be legal, 2 cars were confirmed to be illegal. All others are left in doubt.

      1. As with the law, they are innocent until proven guilty.

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