Martin Brundle has ‘big question’ for FIA after Hamilton, Leclerc disqualifications

Henry Valantine
Sky F1 punfit Martin Brundle at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Martin Brundle speaks on the grid.

Martin Brundle believes the FIA should have checked the planks of all 17 finishers in Austin on Sunday, after Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified for being found to have excessive wear on that part of their cars.

Hamilton and Leclerc, along with Max Verstappen and Lando Norris, saw the planks and skids checked from underneath their cars as part of the FIA’s post-race scrutineering procedures, with the Technical Regulations stating that the planks must be a minimum width after the chequered flag drops – with approximately 1mm of wear allowed in race trim.

Mercedes and Ferrari reasoned that the bumps around the Circuit of The Americas and the drop to one practice session from three, given it was a Sprint weekend, limited their time to set the cars up properly, hence leaving a lack of information for them to address ride height concerns.

Martin Brundle: ‘If 50% of the tested cars failed, then shouldn’t all the finishers have been checked?’

With the four cars tested providing a 50% failure rate after the race from the plank wear test, Brundle believes it would be incumbent on the FIA to have checked the legality of the entire field in that area, given the impact it could have had on the race.

While the former McLaren and Benetton driver explained that the FIA go to great lengths to spot-check huge amounts of data points on Formula 1 cars after races, the hugely bumpy circuit in Austin would have made the cars more susceptible to plank wear.

As the current ground effect era aerodynamics rely on the cars being run close to the ground, Brundle thinks the remaining finishers should have been checked in this area, despite the “beyond comprehensive” tests that already go into the cars after races.

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“At a bumpy track like Austin, and with only one practice session, setting a ride height for the duration of the event is quite a challenge with regard to performance, and driver and car tolerance, and of course plank-wear legality, especially with a full fuel tank,” Brundle wrote in his post-race Sky Sports column.

“If they simply raised the car to be cautious, they’d lose so much performance they may as well pack up and go home.

“After the race four cars were checked, including Verstappen’s Red Bull and Norris’ McLaren, and both Hamilton’s Mercedes and Leclerc’s Ferrari were found to have too much wear, for which the only remedy is disqualification, however minimal the indiscretion. There can be no grey area on this.

“The next big question however is that if 50 per cent of the tested cars failed, then shouldn’t all the finishers have been checked? The answer must surely be yes.

“It must be said that the FIA checks pre and post race are beyond comprehensive. The published list includes over 50 separate and detailed checks mostly on all classified finishers, and a few on randomly selected cars.”

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