On the eve of the Mexico City Grand Prix, Formula One’s governing body, the FIA have offered an explanation and insight into the scrutineering process that led to Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification from last Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton scored a second-placed finish in the Austin F1 race last Sunday, only falling short of race victory by just over 2 seconds. By contrast, Charles Leclerc ended the race down in P6 after Ferrari chased an unsuccessful one-stop strategy with the Monégasque.
However, both drivers left Austin with zero points as their cars were disqualified for failing a post-race plank wear check. With the regulations quite obvious in this regard, Mercedes and Ferrari had no other choice than accepting the disqualification.
The incident has caused a stir since then as only four cars were checked for plank wear while other cars avoided the crucial test. Alongside Hamilton and Leclerc, only the McLaren of Lando Norris and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen were checked. However, as 50 percent were found to be in breach, it led to question marks about the legality of the cars that were not examined.
On the eve of the Mexico City Grand Prix, FIA has delivered an explanation for the way of how they perform their checks over a race weekend.
“The answer is that a series of random checks are carried out every weekend on different areas of the cars,” an FIA statement explained.
“This process has been in place for many decades, and exists to ensure compliance with the regulations by virtue of the fact that the teams do not know before the race which specific areas of which cars might be examined beyond the standard checks carried out on every car each weekend (such as the fuel sample taken from all cars after each Grand Prix).
“This means that, from their perspective, any part of the car could be checked at any time, and the consequences for non-compliance with the Technical Regulations can be severe. The vast majority of the time, all cars are found to be compliant.
“However, as happened in Austin, breaches of the rules are occasionally found and reported to the Stewards, who decide the appropriate action to take.
#FIAInsights🔍 - How does the FIA go about checking for compliance, and is it the same at every event? The answer is that a series of random checks are carried out every weekend on different areas of the cars - full story belowhttps://t.co/TSgwpMQiDF— FIA (@fia) October 26, 2023
The FIA claims that the time frame does not allow to carry out same checks on each car as teams need to pack up their cars and equipment quickly in order to send them to the next venue. This available time is even shorter on back-to-back race weekends when team members are under enormous pressure to dismantle the temporary garages.
Following the United States Grand Prix, all cars were weighed and the steering wheel of all classified cars were checked.
The Red Bull of Sergio Perez, the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda and the McLaren of Lando Norris were randomly selected for bodywork checks which included tests of the floor (body, fences and edge wings), nose, mirror housing, sidepods, engine cover, coke panel, rear wing profiles, front wing (tip, profiles, diveplanes, endplate body).
The following tests were carried out on each cars: engine rev limit, oil consumption, plenum temperature, energy store state, lap energy release, MGU-K power limits, maximum MGU-K torque and speed, torque coordinator demands, rear brakes pressure, brake temperature warnings.
Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari was picked out for fuel sample and engine oil tests which saw the FIA check for example the density and viscometry.
“In conducting these tests, a huge amount of work goes on in the limited time available after a Grand Prix finishes and before the cars need to be returned to their teams for disassembly and transportation to the next race.
“However, even though a wide array of checks are made, it is impossible to cover every parameter of every car in the short time available – and this is especially true of back-to-back race weekends when freight deadlines must also be considered.
“This is why the process of randomly selecting a number of cars for post-race scrutineering across various aspects of the regulations is so valuable. Each team is aware that selection is possible and understand that the chance of any lack of compliance being uncovered is strong.
The governing body says that cars are checked multiple times over a race weekend as additional examinations take place between qualifying and the race. Moreover, the FIA selects at least one car for even more detailed analysis on internal components.
“These ‘deep dives’ are invasive and often require the disassembly of significant components that are not regularly checked due to the time it takes to carry out the procedure.
“This process involves comparing the physical components with CAD files the teams are required to supply to the FIA, as well as verification of team data that is constantly monitored by the FIA’s software engineers.
“As with everything in Formula 1, the process has evolved and been refined over the years to constitute the most stringent and thorough method of monitoring F1’s incredibly complex current-generation cars, acting as a serious deterrent while being practically achievable within the logistical framework of a Grand Prix weekend.”