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The Controversial Disqualifications: Unveiling the Plank Violations in F1

Republished with full copyrights permissions obtained from the Sports Today Magazine.

Controversy is no stranger to the world of F1, and the recent United States Grand Prix was no exception. Lewis Hamilton crossed the finish line in second place, securing a crucial result for Mercedes in their battle with Ferrari for second place in the Constructors’ Championship. However, post-race checks revealed that both Hamilton’s W14 and Charles Leclerc’s SF-23 were in violation of F1’s Technical Regulations due to non-compliance with the “plank” on the floor of their cars.

What are planks?
Planks, also known as “skid blocks,” are essential components found on the floors of F1 cars. Initially introduced as a safety measure following Ayrton Senna’s tragic death, these planks serve a dual purpose. Firstly, they protect the chassis from damage when the car’s floor makes contact with the track surface at high speeds. Secondly, they act as a safety gauge, ensuring that cars are not running too close to the ground. The proximity to the track surface impacts cornering speed, and excessively low cars pose a safety risk. Therefore, planks help regulate the distance between the car and the track.

Technical Regulation violation:
The Technical Regulations of F1 are extensive, covering every aspect of the sport. The violated regulation in this case was Article 3.5.9(e) of the 2023 F1 Technical Regulations. This article specifies that the thickness of the plank assembly should be 10mm ± 0.2mm when new. The regulation allows for a minimum thickness of 9mm due to wear, and measurements are checked at the peripheries of designated holes. Hamilton’s and Leclerc’s planks failed to meet the prescribed thickness criteria, leading to their disqualifications.

Discovery of violations:
Post-race checks are conducted by the FIA Technical Delegate and his team. In this instance, the physical plank and wear inspection was performed on four cars, including Hamilton’s and Leclerc’s. The results indicated non-compliance with Article 3.5.9(e). These inspections, along with several other pre- and post-race checks, were carried out to ensure compliance with the Technical Regulations. The inspections aim to maintain fairness and safety in the sport.

Penalty and its implications:
Following meetings between race officials and the teams, disqualification was the standard penalty imposed for the violated Technical Regulations. In such cases, disqualification is automatic, and leniency can only be sought if extenuating circumstances are present. Both Mercedes and Ferrari accepted the measurements and conceded to the regulations, acknowledging that rules are enforced irrespective of external factors. The disqualifications impacted the Constructors’ Championship battle, with Ferrari gaining more points than Mercedes on the weekend, closing the gap between the two teams.

The disqualifications stemming from plank violations in the US Grand Prix highlight the meticulous nature of F1 and its adherence to rules and regulations. The planks play a critical role in maintaining safety and fair competition. As the battle for second place in the Constructors’ Championship intensifies, the disqualifications emphasize that every millimeter can make a difference. Fans eagerly anticipate how the remaining races of the season will unfold, with the teams vying for every advantage within the boundaries defined by F1’s Technical Regulations.

This post “The Controversial Disqualifications: Unveiling the Plank Violations in F1” was published with full copyrights permissions obtained from the Sports Today Magazine.

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