Disqualifications should have triggered checks of team mates’ cars – Verstappen

Formula 1

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Max Verstappen has questioned why the FIA did not conduct legality checks on the cars belonging to the team mates of two drivers who were disqualified from the United States Grand Prix

The Red Bull driver won the race ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc. However Hamilton and Leclerc were disqualified after the race for excessive plank wear.

Verstappen does not believe their teams, Mercedes and Ferrari, intended to break the rules. He said the limited practice time available under the sprint race format makes it harder to avoid set-up errors in the first place and correct them afterwards.

“I don’t think anyone does it on purpose,” he said. “It’s just even more because of this sprint format that you only have one practice session where you try to nail everything and once you are in the wrong, there’s nothing you can do. The only thing you can do is pump up the tyre pressures, but then you’re driving around on balloon tyres.

“So it’s of course not what you want to see, I guess also for them, as a team. Of course we know that dropping the car, it gives you performance, but I think it’s also just because of that whole format that you put yourself in this position, because normally I don’t think anyone in a normal weekend would run like that.”

The FIA conducts a variety of post-race inspections on different cars at random. Four out of the 17 finishers had their planks checked, including Verstappen, whose car passed.

Performing each test on every car would mean “you only get the race result on Tuesday,” said Verstappen. “The problem is that it’s just impossible to check everything.

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“But the thought process from every team is no one wants to be illegal, so no one sets up their car to be illegal. Then, of course, you have these random checks that get carried out and sometimes it’s the top four, sometimes it’s in the middle of the field, the back, that’s just how it goes, you can’t check every car for every single part of the car, otherwise we need 100 more people to do this kind of thing.”

However he questioned why the disqualifications of Hamilton and Leclerc did not prompt checks of the planks on their team mates’ cars.

“When you check one car of the team and it’s illegal, then I think you should check the other one as well. That’s for me, the only thing. Because otherwise you DQ one, then the other one moves up one position where normally you always run quite similar set-ups.”

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47 comments on “Disqualifications should have triggered checks of team mates’ cars – Verstappen”

  1. Max is correct. The decision last week seemed arbitrary, a lot of cars would probably have failed the check. Imagine half the field or more disqualified – highly plausible. Yep, Formula 1 would look ridiculous.
    So why wouldn’t they check all the cars. Answer above. Formula 1 loves these dodgy solutions where everyone (the team bosses, owners and FIA) knows the fudge is there to protect the sport, not ensure its fairness.

    1. No way of knowing for certain that a lot would’ve ‘probably’ failed.

      1. @jerejj No, but all the driver and team comments suggest they would. And any analysis of why the infringements happened would show it was a systemic lack of sufficient information and a dodgy track, not an attempt to cheat.

    2. There is a clear cut rule in the book that says pick 4 car at random and test the legality of them. If they have been picking 4 cars at random every race so far and not found something illegal in 18 races means the rule is working and it is enough to deter teams from cheating.

      Just because miscalculations happened in one race doesn’t mean everyone is cheating all the time, there is 72 inspections (18 races with 4 cars each) worth of proof of it.

      1. It wasn’t a question of cheating. The rules are designed, indeed, to prevent cheating, same as the weigh bridge and other checks. In this case, though, it was clearly an instance of systematic failure to calculate the right height by two teams (and probably more). None of those teams were probably looking to ‘get away with cheating.’ They were trying to calculate the minimum height needed. Red Bull may have dodged this problem as they had issues with track’s unevenness in general, meaning they had to run the car a bit higher. We’re talking about very small amounts, not cms.
        Clearly the reason why it was systematic (lots of teams) is that it combined a sprint race, very little practice time, parc firmé and extra distances on a rough track.
        Nobody cares much about the points as the main championships are over. But it really shouldn’t be repeated and it’s down to the race organization and FIA asking too much of the teams IMO. Of course next time they’ll run higher to be sure. but it doesn’t change the fact that the sprint races are badly thought out in general.

      2. if the rule says ‘at random’ then it was broken

        1. It says at random and as 100s of articles stated this week that FIA neither has time or resources to check all the cars. So random is the best next thing to keep all the teams in line in case they get picked at the end of the race. 72 previous random checks this year before COTA determined that teams are always willingly complying with the rules.

      3. That rule was probably written 100 years ago. In 2023 they can’t drive a car onto a rig and measure with lasers in a matter if seconds? The highest level of motorsports run by a bunch of pre-industrial villagers.

        1. Bass, I wonder that myself. I think part of the problem might be that the car behaves very differently at speed, sits lower on the suspension etc, but you’d think they’ve have some way of measuring the underside of the car automatically after the race, even if it is just a preliminary automated check to highlight cars which need to be looked at by a human. I was also suprised to find they don’t routinely weigh all of the finishing cars after the event. How difficult can it be for each car on the way to the finishing enclosure to drive onto the weighbridge with the driver still in it, through a rig to check max width and height compliance, and take a fuel sample which can be sent to a lab for blind testing on a spectrometer?

        2. Coventry Climax
          27th October 2023, 19:03

          Completely agree with you.

          But even if that’s not possible, and like Max says:

          you can’t check every car for every single part of the car, otherwise we need 100 more people to do this kind of thing.”

          So get the extra 100 people. Or 200 for all I care. Have them do it within half an hour. With wages even at 500 dollar an hour, that amounts to 50.000 dollar, which is peanuts in F1 terminology. Give them the tools that are possible. Prioritise the checks; fines and such are irrelevant to know before the podium ceremony, but checks that lead to disqualifications or position penalties certainly are.

          But it won’t happen; F1 thrives on controversy and intrigue.

          1. Agree, I don’t see that as an unrealistic solution at all.

  2. “When you check one car of the team and it’s illegal, then I think you should check the other one as well. That’s for me, the only thing. Because otherwise you DQ one, then the other one moves up one position where normally you always run quite similar set-ups.”


    The exact question asked by people here and, less rationally, elsewhere.
    Perhaps because it opens up the requirement to check the cars that finished with the same performance as the teammates as a true yardstick, and that potentially cascades into checking the whole field?

    We then appear to back to asking why they don’t do the basic “does that look a bit worn?” check and then moving to more detail checks, or putting in a tech solution to allow quicker checking across the field.

    1. Yep. It’s not rocket science. If one car fails then you are 99.9% certain that the other car will too.

  3. They either need to inspect ALL of the cars or none of them. You cannot make it an issue of luck of the draw as to whether you get disqualified.

    1. So you need to check all cars for speeding, or none at all? You need to test every driver to make sure there are no DUI’s? You need to stripsearch everyone at the airport, or none at all … Good luck with your taxes :)

      1. Good old Mark demonstrating one more time why fans shouldn’t be involved in rule making.

      2. So you need to check all cars for speeding

        George, your horse fell at the first hurdle.
        Speed cameras, in fixed locations, are an actual thing on roads around the UK, average speed cameras cover long stretches of motorway.
        Mobile camera police vans park up at urban areas, often by request of the local councillors.

        It can be automated, it has been automated.

        The FIA excuse is?

        1. To check the underside, I guess you need to see and have access to the underside of the car. At the same time you don’t want the competitors having the capabilities to take upskirt views.
          If a complete measurement of the plank is needed at all cars need & a fluids examination & need to be checked on aero rigidity & and weighed & … it might take multiple hours per car.
          20 cars in the field, checking everything all the time would need multiple lifting stations, multiple inspection tools and personnel and it would still take a lot of time. Even then, sometimes a team is inventive to find a loophole that needs to be closed.
          With the current system, one has a 10 – 30% chance to get checked on a certain area, so most teams will play it safe and honest. Hence current system is sufficient, until it isn’t.

      3. Coventry Climax
        27th October 2023, 19:12

        George.be, we’re not talking outside world here, we’re talking a sporting event turned fake show.
        It’s perfectly possible to check all 20 cars, finished or not, so it’s a matter of choice.
        The point is, they don’t really want to. And as it’s fake already, it maybe even doesn’t matter.

    2. You are not randomly disqualified. You are randomly checked.
      You can only get disqualified if you run an illegal car. You’ve got control over this.

      A lot of policing in society happens that way. Shops do not let caught shoplifters go because they do not manage to frisk everyone. We do not stop murder trails because we cannot possibly catch all murderers.

      1. Frank: “You can only get disqualified if you run an illegal car. You’ve got control over this.”

        Control? That makes it sound like the teams involved made a choice to knowingly run an illegal car. They didn’t. There isn’t a set height that they are supposed to run at. Every team asked themselves what the optimum height was for their car on the circuit, based on the limited amount of testing they had, and as has been pointed out elsewhere, it isn’t simply a case of getting it as low as you think you can go. They made a judgement, made educated guesses about the effects of bumps and kerbs etc, and they got it wrong. If they’d known their setup was going to result it an illegal amount of plank wear, for sure they’d have raised the ride height.

        I don’t think people are saying it was wrong to exclude them, but instead asking why, when it is such a rare transgression, why did we suddenly get two cases in two different teams in a single race. Is it because the problem was more widespread than just two cars, and is it a problem with sprint formats and bumpy tracks, that some cars will end up unintentionally illegal? Either way, it surely merits further investigation, because I’d hope you agree that disqualifying drivers hours after the race is not good for the fans and not good for the credibility of the sport.

        1. There isn’t a set Height, but there is a maximum wear. MB and Ferrari were over and caught.
          In parc Fermé situations, the teams can still solve issues like this, if they want: If there is a bottoming out issue, the team can:
          Instruct the driver to drive around it (by decreasing the speed, thus downforce in certain spots),
          Increase the tire pressure (there is a minimum, but one has the right to go higher, but it costs performance)
          Shorten the stint lenght on the tires.
          Work on the car, and start from the pit-lane.
          But they chose to gamble, and lost the hand.
          I don’t believe the team wasn’t aware during the race: They’ve got sensors telling them to the percent how much downforce they generate, and other sensors + a driver telling them if and how hard the car is bottoming out…
          Weird though that Lewis didn’t complain about his back :p
          I’ve got the feeling it is more an issue because Lewis and Mercedes are affected. Had it been RB and Ferrari, the comment would’ve been “See, they’re cheaters” and that would’ve been it.

      2. Shops do not let caught shoplifters go because they do not manage to frisk everyone.

        Most shops I’ve been in have had detection hoops on the door areas and passive devices attached to the goods for sale.

        Automation, it’s a thing, and has been for decades.

  4. I don’t dispute the rules at all – Ferrari and Mercedes were found to have broken the rules and were disqualified accordingly. I’d like to see parc ferme rules relaxed over Sprint weekends as it seems odd that in other weekends 3 practice sessions allow for changes to be made before qualifying – at Sprint weekends just one session allows for a setup change. Allowing tweaks between sessions seems only reasonable on a Sprint weekend. I’d love to see a return to Sunday morning practice of 30 mins for final tweaks.

    As for post-race scrutineering, I am surprised that only 4 cars are checked in a sport all about the finest of margins. It essentially allows teams an 80% chance that any flaunting of the rules will not be seen. Worth the risk I’d say.

  5. “It’s impossible to check 20 cars.”

    But if a new team wants to take part in the competition they ask for nearly half a billion dollars entry fee.

    F1 has become such a joke.

  6. I’ve read as a counter argument that they don’t have time to check all the cars for everything that needs checking.
    But that is not what is implied. If a car fails a certain check, then do just that same check on the other car. That does not require a significant amount of resources, while still yielding a high probability in catching an offense.

    But, having said that, I don’t like F1 deliberately trying to let the teams make these mistakes by limiting testing too much. I want to see teams perform at their best and I dislike the fake let’s mix it up a bit shenanigans to spice up the show. Watching a race and see a good chunk of the show get nullified by disqualifications works detrimental

    1. Agree baasbas and really it’s only not a huge row because the points matter little, especially to the top teams in the WCC. If this was still an open WDC, disqualifying (just) two drivers could have had a major impact on the championship. I find the argument that they decided to check this issue for the first race in 5 precisely at a track where a abrasive surface combined with little practice time really questionable. Wilfully or not, it does seem to have been designed to catch teams out.

      1. It still has an impact on the championship, the battle for 2nd.

    2. I want to see teams perform at their best and I dislike the fake let’s mix it up a bit shenanigans to spice up the show.

      Then the teams should be smart enough to not fall (or jump) into that ‘trap’ shouldn’t they…
      Running the car too low is a bit of a rookie error, after all – it’s one of the most basic aspects of car setup that can be guaranteed not to be a legality issue.
      The harsh reality is that the teams did not perform at their best, and they can’t blame F1 or the FIA or anyone else.

      1. @S
        Why do you keep responding to me like a broken record, implying I blame F1 or FIA for the mistake made by Ferrari and Mercedes? I don’t, it’s on them. The others did a better job*.

        *likely more failed but can’t prove it anymore since they weren’t checked

        They’re simply making the mistakes they were expected to when the big chiefs limited testing.

        And a result of that is me as a viewer watching a race that for a big part didn’t happen. I do blame them for ruining my viewing experience. BIG difference

        1. Because you keep contradicting yourself on three counts.
          Firstly, that the teams responsibility for being DSQ’d revolves around the condition of reduced practice time – which it actually doesn’t. They simply chose to make performance a higher priority than legality. They took excessive risk.
          Secondly, by your statement that the changing of the results somehow makes the actual race null and void, and massively changes your opinion of it. It shouldn’t, because the race itself hasn’t changed – only the official result as recorded in the history books has changed.
          And thirdly, that you say you want the teams to perform at their best – when that’s exactly what they did. That was their best, and it was embarrassingly bad. You actually want them to better than their best, because their best was clearly not good enough for you, based on what you’ve said about them.

          1. @S
            Ok, I give up, it’s getting quite annoying now. I’ve accepted we seem to disagree on simply everything. That is completely fine. But I don’t like you seem to want to distort everything I say. And here you even try to discredit one opinion by trying to call outrage on an unrelated opinion about track limits. Classy.
            You can say communication has a sender and a receiver. I don’t know how to communicate clearer than I did. That could be my mistake, but at this point I’m just going to blame the receiver,… So I’ll humor you with one last response.

            Your first point:
            That is your view of it, not mine. You can disagree all you like and say the teams took an excessive risk. That is fine.
            I’m of the belief they made a mistake. A mistake they hardly ever make since it is extremely rare to see a DSQ for plank wear these days. They’ll predict a ride height and during testing they have the option of fine tuning it to get it right for the weekend. They got it wrong. But did they get it wrong because of a conscious decision for a certain risky height, call it a gamble if you will, or was it a mistake… I’m opting for the second, because if it was a risk worth taking we’d see way more DSQ. But if you want to stick to the first, that is also fine.

            Your second point:
            I said ‘for a big part’. I didn’t say the race was null and void, I said a big part wasn’t real. At the time it was exciting to see the lead of the race being under threat. And if you only look at the history books then only the official result has changed, correct. But I’m not looking at a book, I’m looking at a race. And seeing a good chunk of the excitement removed afterwards leaves me with an unsatisfying viewing experience. Again, if you liked it, that’s just fine.

            For your third point:
            All I did was say I don’t like how the game is being changed to actively try and trip up the teams into making these mistakes. Mistakes they hardly ever make. I don’t want to look at F1 as a mistake-fest, with a gamification of variables or circumstances designed to induce more mistakes. I want to look at F1 as a meritocracy where the teams have room to be at their best. Again, it’s fine if you want to shame the teams that made a mistake, good for you.


    3. By the time they realised it could affect lots of cars, I’m sure a few hours had passed. The 16 other cars would have left Parc ferme conditions a long time ago and would likely be half dismantled already. Tests on the planks would then be pointless as who’s to say the team hadn’t swapped planks etc.

      1. @SteveM
        Sure, but then the process of checking needs an overhaul. Especially for the plank. I mean, a team could run illegal parts. But that is rare and it is actually difficult to get away with, also very expensive and it wastes valuable time. Ride height is not illegal per se. It doesn’t require illegal parts and it is really easy to cheat with (not saying Ferrari and Mercedes cheated, they made a mistake).

  7. He’s absolutely right. And it’s also another deterrent if a team wants to do shady things, which I’m certain no one wants.

  8. Journalism reaches a new low when comments reach the bottom of the barrel!

    Each car has a device logging chassis oscillations to show porpoising. The stewards noted Hamilton and Leclerc’s cars were “pinging” the meter and were checked and found to be illegal. What could be more simple to understand or to print in a story?

    1. @jjfrazz So not random:

      The FIA conducts a variety of post-race inspections on different cars at random.

      Not the case.

    2. This is absolutely not true and was made up in the comments by other arm chair experts like you. It takes 30 seconds of your time to fact check that rules state random checks after every race, even the official statements from both teams say the same thing. At least read the articles above written by real journalists before you comment under them.

  9. it seems odd that in other weekends 3 practice sessions allow for changes to be made before qualifying – at Sprint weekends just one session allows for a setup change.

    That’s because on a ‘normal’ weekend, the first three sessions are practice sessions and are non-competitive. Teams can run non-conforming (illegal) parts and/or setups on their car without consequences as those sessions don’t officially count for anything.
    That’s not the case on a sprint weekend – every session after P1 is competitive, and as such, cars are effectively sealed by the FIA so as to ensure that they ran every competitive session legally.

    Opening up parc ferme rules as you suggest opens up the possibility for teams to run ‘illegal’ cars in the earlier competitive sessions (such as qualifying and the sprints) and then revert them to a legal (or safe) spec only for the GP. Qualifying could be a lawless free-for-all, technically speaking.
    Unless you also propose the FIA run full post-race style scrutineering after every competitive session? That would obviously be logistically impossible on a sprint weekend with only a few hours between sprint qualifying and sprint race.

    As for post-race scrutineering, I am surprised that only 4 cars are checked in a sport all about the finest of margins. It essentially allows teams an 80% chance that any flaunting of the rules will not be seen. Worth the risk I’d say.

    Are the consequences for getting caught with such a breach worth the risk, though? The ‘failure rate’ of these checks suggests the teams don’t think so…

  10. By the time the 4 cars were checked and found tgere could be more failures, all other cars would have left Parc Ferme conditions and would be in the middle of being dismantled by the teams ready to go to Mexico in 4 days.

    They didn’t have time to keep all car in Parc Ferme smile they check EVERY car.

    1. *while, not smile

  11. Robert Henning
    27th October 2023, 17:34

    If the FIA had the resources sure. But they didn’t. And for what it’s worth 4 is already too many given the yearly average.

    Yeah Max is technically right but FIA isn’t at fault for their procedures here. It’s fine as is.

    1. It’s not fine at all that 10 cars can potentially be illegal and 2 disqualified and some illegal cars gain places!

  12. Measuring a plank is not rocket science and will take only a few minutes.
    I understand they kept the two illegal cars for hours to decide what to do with them, while the rules are clear and simple in this case.

  13. I think at each Grand Prix they should have the podium ceremony for the previous race. At least it would have the right drivers on it.

  14. My understanding is the item in question, “The Plank”, is replaced after every Grand prix. So what happens to the “old plank”? My guess is they are discarded, or maybe they get sold as souvenirs. So why can’t this plank be handed over to the FIA at the end of the race? Then every car is checked (or not). After all, this plank is supposed to conform to certain weight, density, and size requirements. Those plank specifications can be checked at the same time.

    1. Good idea, I don’t see why not.

Comments are closed.