In an unexpected twist to the Formula One United States Grand Prix, both Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified hours after the race. What’s the reason? A technical infringement involving the skid block, or “plank,” under their vehicles.
The Technicality Explained
The skid block, made of wood resin, is critical for ensuring that teams follow the rules regarding how near their vehicles run to the ground. This has an impact not just on speed and performance, but also on safety. If this block is reduced by more than 1 mm, the car and driver are disqualified.
Excessive wear on the underfloor skid blocks of both Hamilton’s Mercedes and Leclerc’s Ferrari was discovered. This wear was so severe that it no longer met the competition’s requirements. Specifically, the depth of the new floor on Hamilton’s Mercedes was found to be outside the thresholds outlined in the regulations, which state that the plank cannot wear below 9mm thickness.
The Race and Its Aftermath
Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, had initially secured a second-place finish, trailing closely behind Max Verstappen. The disqualification, however, wiped out Hamilton’s best finish in months, especially at a time when Mercedes was showing promising pace and performance. Verstappen’s car was also inspected but passed without any issues.
Hamilton voiced his unhappiness with the circumstances, but remained positive about the progress they’ve made. He went on to say, “It is of course disappointing to be disqualified post-race but that doesn’t take away from the progress we’ve made this weekend.”
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal, acknowledged the difficulties faced by the Circuit of the Americas’ rough conditions. He highlighted the importance of following the rules and expressed the team’s desire to learn and return stronger.
The Ripple Effect
The disqualifications caused the race results to be reshuffled. Lando Norris of McLaren was promoted to second, while Carlos Sainz of Ferrari was upgraded to third. Additionally, Logan Sargeant, a Williams driver, benefited, jumping from 12th to 10th and scoring his first point of the season.
The disqualifications of Hamilton and Leclerc serve as a sharp reminder of Formula One’s tight technical regulations and the significance of following them. As the season proceeds, teams will likely become more cautious, ensuring that such mistakes do not occur in future races.