Lewis Hamilton & Charles Leclerc’s US GP Disqualification

Illegal Car Effects on Hamilton’s Racing?

The controversial US F1 Grand Prix, held at the Circuit of America in Texas, saw Lewis Hamilton reach the checkered flag in second place but then be completely stripped of his title. Unhappily for Charles Leclerc, he too lost his earlier sixth spot due to this incident. What transpired? Why were these two disqualified and nobody else?

A couple of hours after the competition, the FIA declared that Hamilton and Leclerc had been disqualified for breaching a technical rule. Randomly-selected vehicles are tested by the FIA prior to each race; this time it was Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton, and Charles Leclerc’s cars that were chosen for inspection.

The FIA conducted an examination of the floor of the vehicles and discovered that both Leclerc’s and Hamilton’s plank draught was beyond the regulatory thresholds.

The foundation beneath the vehicle serves as a means of compliance with the FIA’s regulations on ride height. Essentially, it constitutes a tangible deterrent that cars are not permitted to rid below – if they attempt to, they will be obstructed. However, when a car is driven at a lowered level for extended periods – such as a stanced Honda Civic Type R travelling through a bumpy neighbourhood street – this plank gradually erodes, and if its thickness dips beneath the prescribed level of legitimacy, then the associated driver and automobile become ineligible and incur disqualification.

The RB19 had been significantly impacted by the introduction of the flex-wing and flex-floor regulations. Despite this, everyone assumed that Red Bull’s negative showing at the Singapore Grand Prix was a result of the rigidity of the plank. Knowing that the car would be vulnerable to violent jolts if driven around the streets of Singapore at ground level, engineers altered the setup to lift ride height. Unsurprisingly, the adjustments proved disadvantageous for the race.

Red Bull leapt back to the apex at the competition right subsequently, procuring the Constructors’ Title.

The brisk, straightforward answer is no; we do not concur. The prevalent talking point throughout the weekend was the deteriorating nature of COTA’s surface, and a number of drivers, including Verstappen, declared how poor the condition was. Still, uthere were further considerations to take into account.

Due to being a Sprint round, the squads had minimal period to adjust their machinery, with just one drill before Qualifying subsequently happened, at which time the automobiles were placed under Parc Ferme guidelines, granting no authority to carry out vital adjustments.

Despite the severe deterioration of the plank experienced by Mercedes and Ferrari, little time was available to address it. Additionally, not enough practice sessions could be simulated in order to mirror race conditions, leaving only Dedicated qualifying runs as an opportunity to get ready for the upcoming Sprint race.

Both teams had their reasons when they met with the FIA after the disqualifications, but the governing body noted that, in the end, “the onus is on the competitor to ensure that the car is in compliance with the regulations at all times during an event.” The excuses tabled by the teams were considered valid, yet the FIA ultimately concluded that it is the responsibility of the competitor to make sure their car adheres to the rules.

A straightforward answer would be that the suspension ought to have been heightened or upgraded to forestall the car from slumping under strain. Doing this would stop undue deterioration and enabled a higher portion of the wood deck to stay intact at the finish of the competition, so that Mercedes could make individual skateboards in the future.

But this would have had a negative bearing on their performance. All contemporary Formula One vehicles use underbody aerial dynamics (ground effects) to magnetically pull the car downward, and the closer it is to the ground, the larger amount of downforce created, enabling it to speed through curves with greater velocity.

Arriving at the weekend competition, Mercedes had its concluding improvement adapted for the season, leading to a significant variation; yet it is challenging to determine the total enhancement caused by running the car with an unlawful ride height.

Verdicts are still out on what effect rising heights will have regarding Mercedes and Ferrari’s performance compared to McLaren and Red Bull. It has been signalled, however, that the former two squads may boost their ground clearance somewhat in order to abide by regulations. How much this influencing factor handicaps them in battle against the latter duo remains to be seen.

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