Formula 1

F1 Plank Wear Checks: Surprising Omission at Mexico GP After Austin Controversy

Following the dramatic disqualification of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc at the Austin Grand Prix due to excessive skid block wear, the FIA made a surprising decision to not conduct plank wear checks at the subsequent Mexico GP. This move raises questions about the consistency of the FIA’s scrutineering process.

Key Takeaways:

  • No Skid Block Checks in Mexico: Despite the recent disqualifications of Hamilton and Leclerc at the Austin GP, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer did not inspect any F1 cars for plank wear in Mexico, diverging from the scrutiny seen in Austin and Singapore.
  • Circuit Characteristics and Enforcement: The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez’s low downforce nature might have influenced the decision to skip plank checks, contrasting with medium to high downforce tracks where plank wear is more pronounced.
  • Questions Over Scrutineering Consistency: The absence of checks in Mexico and potential omission in Brazil (another low downforce track) contrast with the enforcement in Austin and Singapore, raising questions about the FIA’s consistency, especially given the high downforce nature of the Qatar track where checks were also skipped.

Just a week after the controversial ending to the Austin Grand Prix, which resulted in the disqualification of prominent drivers Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, the Formula 1 world witnessed an unexpected turn of events at the Mexico Grand Prix. The FIA, Formula 1’s governing body, chose not to conduct any skid block or plank wear checks on the cars participating in the Mexico GP. This decision was particularly surprising given the recent enforcement in Austin, where excessive skid block wear led to driver disqualifications.

Skid block checks are not a regular feature of the FIA’s scrutineering process, as evidenced by the sporadic nature of their implementation. The last checks before Austin were conducted in Singapore, indicating an inconsistent approach to this aspect of car regulation. The FIA’s choice to not inspect the cars in Mexico, despite the high failure rate observed in the United States Grand Prix, has sparked discussions and debates within the F1 community.

The reason behind this omission might be attributed to the differing characteristics of the circuits. The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, known for its low downforce demands, contrasts with the medium to high downforce tracks like Austin and Singapore, where plank wear is more likely. This difference in track characteristics might have influenced the FIA’s decision to forgo the plank wear checks in Mexico.

However, this raises further questions about the consistency of the FIA’s enforcement policies, especially considering the upcoming Brazil GP and the past Qatar GP, which, despite being a high downforce track, did not see plank wear checks either. A report by Sky F1 suggested that specific data from the Austin race led to the scrutineering there, particularly focusing on the cars of Hamilton and Leclerc, alongside Verstappen and Norris.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, expressed a bold stance, stating to Sky Sports F1 that he would prefer disqualification with a chance at a race win over a lesser performance. His revelation that Mercedes would continue running a lower car height hinted at potential scrutineering challenges in Mexico, yet the checks were notably absent.

In conclusion, the FIA’s decision to skip plank wear checks in Mexico following the Austin GP controversy has opened a dialogue about the scrutineering consistency in Formula 1. The governing body’s approach to different circuits and conditions, as well as its reaction to team strategies and performance data, will continue to be a point of focus as the season progresses.

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