Formula 1

Brazilian Grand Prix: Drivers Anticipate Plank Wear Challenge, Echoing Austin GP Concerns

In a recent development, Formula 1 drivers have expressed concerns about a potential repeat of the plank wear issue at the Brazilian Grand Prix, mirroring the problems encountered in Austin. This issue, linked to the sprint event format, is expected to influence car setups and strategies.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sprint Event Structure Concerns: The parc ferme conditions imposed after Friday’s practice sessions mean teams must commit to their car setups, including ride heights, for the entire weekend. This inflexibility could prove problematic, especially on circuits with varying conditions.
  • Previous Disqualifications Warning: Recent disqualifications of drivers like Leclerc and Hamilton at the Austin GP for floor plank wear, without prior warnings, serve as a cautionary tale for teams navigating the notoriously bumpy Interlagos circuit.
  • Adaptation and Regulations: Given the unpredictable weather and circuit conditions, teams are considering more conservative setups. Fernando Alonso suggests this approach, while Max Verstappen hopes for some regulatory flexibility, particularly in response to weather changes.

The Brazilian Grand Prix, a staple in the Formula 1 calendar, is approaching amid concerns reminiscent of the challenges faced at the Circuit of the Americas. The unique sprint format of the race, which restricts teams from altering their car setups after Friday practice, has previously led to unforeseen outcomes. These include the disqualification of front-running cars due to excessive floor plank wear, an issue that could repeat at the Interlagos circuit with its challenging topography and erratic weather.

Mercedes driver George Russell described the difficulties faced during sprint weekends, referring to the unexpected plank wear issue at Austin. As reported by Autosport, Russell stated, “It’s going to be really challenging. This is a big issue with the sprint race weekend. In Austin, we ended practice, we did our checks, there was no plank wear and we thought we were in the clear. And then with a small change of wind direction, put in 100 kilos of fuel in the car for the first time, some laps in traffic, some laps not in traffic, on a really bumpy circuit, we suddenly found ourselves in an issue we weren’t expecting. I’ve got to be honest, on a track like this, some teams might find themselves in the same place.”

Echoing these sentiments, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso anticipates a more cautious approach from the teams. He commented, “I think a sprint format this year has been quite difficult for everyone to optimise the car. There are always margins that you need to take. In Austin, we had a few cars that have been checked, and many other cars that they didn’t check that they were not legal. I think here it will be a little bit more conservative from everyone.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also weighed in on the situation, focusing on the difficulties of setting up the car for varying weather conditions. Verstappen noted, “For setting up the car and the ride height, it’s always very tricky when it has rained for a whole day and in the race on Sunday you are driving on a dry track. But hopefully, the FIA will allow you to adjust some things if it has rained.”

As the F1 teams and drivers prepare for the Brazilian GP, they are not only racing against each other but also against the unpredictability of their equipment and the regulations governing their sport.

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