Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff believes the FIA’s post-race scrutineers are “too thinly spread” as the reverberations from Lewis Hamilton’s United States Grand Prix disqualification continue.
On a weekend Mercedes introduced a new floor upgrade, Hamilton enjoyed his most competitive outing of the F1 2023 season in Austin, finishing a close second to the race-winning Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
However, the plank underneath Hamilton’s car was found to have suffered excessive wear over the course of the 56-lap race with the seven-time World Champion disqualified for only the second time in his career.
Toto Wolff accepts F1 needs ‘robust policing’
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who finished a distant sixth after starting from pole position, was also excluded for the same infringement.
The bumpy nature of the Circuit of The Americas – and the challenges of F1’s sprint format, forcing teams to lock in a setup after a single practice session on Friday – has been cited as the reason behind Mercedes and Ferrari’s missteps.
As the debate continues over how a similar situation can be avoided in the future, Wolff identified a major flaw with the FIA’s scrutineering procedures as they stand currently.
He told media in the aftermath of Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix: “I think that the FIA and the scrutineers are too thinly spread.
“They’re doing their best and utmost to make sure that everybody is complying to the regulations and that means random picks and random checks are probably the only way you can go.
“Checking plank wear on a sprint race weekend in Austin with the bumpiest track and then turning the result upside down, I think the moment you check it’s clear that you’re going to have some shenanigans afterwards.
“So maybe one can have a little bit of a bigger perspective on these things, but I think the scrutineering and the stewarding is what it is.
“We need robust policing and we were found out to be not complying with the skid wear and then we’re out, that’s clear.”
Wolff’s statement comes after it emerged that only eight of the 20 drivers turned up to a meeting organised by the FIA’s Garry Connelly ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix designed to improve the transparency and consistency of race stewards’ decisions after a number of public complaints.
Decisions including Lando Norris’s five-second penalty for so-called “unsportsmanlike behaviour” in Canada came under the microscope, with a range of on-track collisions between drivers and track limits offences examined too.