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Formula 1 United States GP

Hamilton and Leclerc disqualified from F1 US GP for car plank rules breach

Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc have been disqualified from Formula 1’s 2023 United States Grand Prix after their car planks were ruled to be excessively worn down.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Running an upgraded Mercedes floor, US GP runner-up Hamilton proved particularly rapid during the final stint at the Circuit of The Americas to close to within 2.225 seconds of winner Max Verstappen at the flag.

Meanwhile, Leclerc was hamstrung by being the only finisher to undertake a one-stop strategy across the 56 laps, which left him vulnerable in the closing stages as he fell back to sixth place.

However, random post-race floor checks were completed on the cars of Hamilton, Leclerc, Verstappen and third-placed Lando Norris. The former two were found non-compliant.

Accordingly, Hamilton and Leclerc have been disqualified.

An FIA bulletin read: “During the hearing the team(s) acknowledged that the measurement performed by the FIA Technical Team was correct and stated that the high wear on the skid pads was probably a result of the unique combination of the bumpy track and the sprint race schedule that minimised the time to set up and check the car before the race.

“The Stewards note that the onus is on the competitor to ensure that the car is in compliance with the regulations at all times during an event. In this particular case, the rear skid in the area defined in the Technical Delegate’s report was outside of the thresholds…which includes a tolerance for wear.

“Therefore, the standard penalty for a breach of the Technical Regulations is imposed.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

The two drivers were in breach of Article 3.5.9 e) of the 2023 Formula 1 technical regulations. This reads: “The thickness of the plank assembly measured normal to the lower surface must be 10mm [plus or minus] 0.2mm and must be uniform when new.

“A minimum thickness of 9mm will be accepted due to wear, and conformity to this provision will be checked at the peripheries of the designated holes.”

As the stewards noted, this illegality is the result of the sprint race format combining with bumpy track surface at the Circuit of The Americas, despite Turns 12 and 14-16 having been resurfaced.

For the sprint weekend, parc ferme rules come into effect after the single hour of free practice running on Friday afternoon.

Teams can break the set-up lockdown to adjust the car, but this requires a pitlane start – as chosen by both Haas and Aston Martin for both its cars.

As a result of the disqualifications, Norris has been promoted to second while Carlos Sainz completes the podium.

Sergio Perez climbs to fourth, while George Russell, Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, Yuki Tsunoda, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant now complete the top 10 - with Sargeant scoring the first points of his F1 career to duly become the first American to finish in the points since Michael Andretti in the 1993 Italian GP.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff accepted Hamilton’s disqualification and felt the excessive plank wear was triggered by the bumpy track and debuting its upgrade package on a sprint race weekend.

“Turning to the race result and the disqualification, set-up choices on a sprint weekend are always a challenge with just one hour of free practice - and even more so at a bumpy circuit like COTA and running a new package,” Wolff said in a Mercedes press release.

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“In the end, all of that doesn't matter; others got it right where we got it wrong and there's no wiggle room in the rules. We need to take it on the chin, do the learning, and come back stronger next weekend.”

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