Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2023

Disqualification a shock after “zero wear” on plank in practice – Leclerc

Formula 1

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Charles Leclerc says Ferrari have “no excuse” for being disqualified from the United States Grand Prix after failing a plank wear test in scrutineering.

He finished sixth in last weekend’s grand prix after starting from pole position but was disqualified from the final results after his car’s plank was found to have worn beyond the maximum amount permitted by the technical regulations.

As the US Grand Prix was a sprint round, teams were locked into their car set-ups under parc ferme conditions from the start of Friday afternoon’s qualifying session. Leclerc said his team had no indication they may be in trouble with their plank wear prior to the grand prix.

“It was a complete surprise,” Leclerc said in Mexico. “Because on Friday, when we could change the car, there was zero wear – it’s not like we were touching anywhere. Then you get to the race and obviously things had changed, but we were illegal.

“Rules are rules and they need to be respected whatever, so it’s no excuse to say that Friday we were fine. We need to look into it to try and better anticipate what’s going to be the wear on Sunday. ”

The Circuit of the Americas is a notoriously bumpy track which once again prompted criticism from drivers over the weekend. However, Leclerc said there wear on his car was likely down to more than just bumps in the track.

“There are so many more things,” he said. “There’s also kerb riding, there’s different things, but kerb riding also is a thing. But at the end, yes, we should’ve anticipated better and we’ll look into it for the future.

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“I was surprised because, again, also on the Saturday night, we could see more or less where we were touching and we thought there was still plenty of margin. Then we finished on Sunday and it was a big surprise, so we are still in the analysing part of where exactly did we wear the plank more than what we expected – because it wasn’t expected.”

Even before he was disqualified, Leclerc had been frustrated with his race on Sunday. After being the only driver in the top 10 finishing positions to have run a one-stop strategy, which left him dropping down the order in the later laps, Leclerc says Ferrari knows it chose the wrong approach.

“We looked into it. We understood that, obviously, it was the wrong choice,” he said.

“We checked back the numbers and we adjusted that, so at the end it’s all about learning and trying to go forward. Of course, this time it was a bit more different than others because we were basically the only car doing something so different. But we understood what went wrong.”

Heading into this weekend’s race in Mexico, Leclerc says he expects Ferrari to enjoy fewer problems this year than they faced at the high-altitude venue in 2022.

“Last year was a very, very difficult race for us here,” he explained. “We had quite a lot of problems with our package, with the power units especially, but we do not expect to have the same issues this year. So I hope that it will be a step forward. We have a very different package this year, but it should be better than last year.”

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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2 comments on “Disqualification a shock after “zero wear” on plank in practice – Leclerc”

  1. Maybe is that why they lowered the ride height for the race after this.

    1. I saw a short video online shared by Ferrari where a team member stated that they had been putting the car higher and higher up during Fp1 and found a level where they felt the downforce was good and estimated the right height would be ok, but in hindsight they took too great a risk with that.

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