Danica Patrick has rubbished Lewis Hamilton’s claims having a plank that was less than the set minimum thickness didn’t bring performance to his car as anything that puts the car closer to the ground brings gains.
Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified from the United States Grand Prix after a post-race floor and plank inspection found the latter to be below the minimum thickness of 9mm.
That meant Hamilton’s runner-up result was erased from the record books while Leclerc lost sixth place.
Danica Patrick: You were illegal and you’re out of the race
But while the Ferrari driver hasn’t had much to say on his disqualification, Hamilton has blamed the Sprint format and the bumps at the Circuit of the Americas while flatly denying having a thinner plank brought any performance to the car.
Adamant the plank is “not a performance element”, Hamilton went on to tell Sky Sports something like his disqualification “taints” Formula 1 as only four cars were checked as he believes more cars would have been illegal.
Patrick has rubbished that, saying there wouldn’t be a rule in place if there weren’t gains to be had.
“I think Charles probably handled it appropriately because there’s nothing you can really do about making a change at this point in time,” she told Sky F1. “You were illegal and you’re out of the race.
“It felt like Lewis was trying to sort of build a case and save a little bit of face in it. But at the end of the day, he said it doesn’t make a difference, but it does.
“That’s why the rule is in place because lowering the car generally always makes it faster. It’s one of the most powerful tools to giving the car more grip so I think it does make a difference.
“And maybe it was a little bit to do with the weekend. There was only one practice session and a lot of parc ferme so they weren’t able to change the car and maybe they gambled, maybe they didn’t know. I’m not sure there were.”
Martin Brundle: That’s why those regulations are there
Joined by Martin Brundle for the discussion, the former F1 driver says he also disagrees with Hamilton about the performance gains.
He, however, also questions whether other cars would’ve been illegal if the FIA had impounded all the planks and measured them.
“I see it differently to Lewis, I must say, in that, we know with this current generation of cars that started in 2022, closer to the ground means quite a bit more performance,” he said.
“I would also like to say I think the FIA do a tremendous job of policing the technical aspects of Formula One. And there are reasons we understand why they chose those two cars in the beginning to check because of data they’d seen. Then they checked some others.
“I can’t help but think because the teams take the planks off – they’re not made of wood, they’re made of resin, reinforced resin – but take them off and they could impound them, measure them.
“We don’t know if the rest of the field were legal or illegal. I’ve asked some of the team members and of course, they will say that their car was fine. Another team said they weren’t sure which is nonsense, because they will on the build-down that’s sort of things they’ll check.
“But if you’re a kilo underweight or a millimetre too wide with your wings, you get thrown out of the race, and that’s why those regulations are there. And those two cars were outside the regulations at the end of the Grand Prix.”