FIA opt against checking planks despite double US GP disqualification

Two cars failed post-race checks at the 2023 US GP after fielding illegal planks.

Interestingly, the FIA opted against checking any planks after the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, despite the fact both Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified from the previous round for their cars not meeting the sport’s technical regulations.

At the United States Grand Prix, a week before last weekend’s race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, two of the four cars checked by the FIA after the race were disqualified – Hamilton and Leclerc – following excessive wear to their planks.

Whilst the governing body aren’t forced to randomly check planks after every race, as proven by the fact that prior to the US GP they were last checked in Singapore, it came as a surprise to many that none were checked in Mexico, given what happened just a week prior.

The reasoning for this is unknown, although a possible answer could be because the Mexican GP involves a low downforce set-up.

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However, the fact planks weren’t checked in Mexico does suggest that the FIA made the decision to check planks at the Circuit of the Americas as a result of data they observed during the race.

It was revealed by Sky Sports F1 ahead of the Mexican GP that it was the vertical oscillating data of Hamilton’s and Leclerc’s which made FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer want to check their cars in particular.

Lando Norris’ and Max Verstappen’s cars were chosen to allow Bauer to compare the differences.

As a result of the disqualification, Hamilton lost second place whilst Leclerc had sixth taken from him.

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Interestingly, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted he’d happily take the disqualification given that the car showed strong performance and an ability to fight for the win, over finishing a distant third.

“I would take the same thing and I would also take the disqualification because we got it wrong,” the Austrian told Sky Sports F1.

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“I take the disqualification running for a race win and see the performance, against running P3 and ending 25 seconds adrift.

“Every day of the week I would go for the disqualification.”

Following Wolff’s comments, it was pondered by some whether Mercedes would take the gamble of trying to run their car as close the legal minimum ride height as possible in Mexico, which added to the surprise of no planks being inspected.