Following criticism of the disqualification of both Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc from last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, the FIA has offered insight into its post-race legality checks and procedures.

Hamilton was stripped of his second place finish and Leclerc sixth after FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer referred both drivers to the stewards for exceeding plank wear allowances in last Sunday’s race. The news of the disqualifications came some three-and-a-half hours after the conclusion of the grand prix.

Of the 17 finishers in Austin, the governing body only inspected the planks of four cars. With half of those checked found to have breached the regulations, questions have been raised over the legality of other competitors.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the FIA said: “A series of random checks are carried out every weekend on different areas of the cars.

“This process has been in place for many decades, and exists to ensure compliance with the regulations by virtue of the fact that the teams do not know before the race which specific areas of which cars might be examined beyond the standard checks carried out on every car each weekend (such as the fuel sample taken from all cars after each grand prix).”

Therefore, the FIA believes that as “any part of the car could be checked at any time”, the likelihood of disqualification should a team be caught should act as a strong enough deterrent to prevent breaches of the technical regulations.

(L to R): Paul Monaghan (GBR) Red Bull Racing Chief Engineer with Jo Bauer (GER) FIA Delegate.
18.06.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Qualifying Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

As for why only the planks of four cars were tested, the FIA justified that time restraints on a grand prix weekend mean that it is simply not possible to utilise its full arsenal of checks on every car. This is especially the case for double and triple headers when teams need to rush off to the next race destination.

“In conducting these tests, a huge amount  of work goes on in the limited time available after a Grand Prix finishes and before the cars need to be returned to their teams for disassembly and transportation to the next race,” the statement continued.

“However, even though a wide array of checks are made, it is impossible to cover every parameter of every car in the short time available – and this is especially true of back-to-back race weekends when freight deadlines must also be considered.

“This is why the process of randomly selecting a number of cars for post-race scrutineering across various aspects of the regulations is so valuable. Each team is aware that selection is possible and understand that the chance of any lack of compliance being uncovered is strong.”

Since 2021, the FIA has been able to complete a more rigorous examination of any car.

“The scrutineering process isn’t limited to post-qualifying and post-race checks. The FIA also conducts additional examinations between qualifying and the race, and as well as the number of cars selected for post-race checks, at least one is selected for even more detailed analysis on internal components,” it is explained.

“These ‘deep dives’ are invasive and often require the disassembly of significant components that are not regularly checked due to the time it takes to carry out the procedure. This process involves comparing the physical components with CAD files the teams are required to supply to the FIA, as well as verification of team data that is constantly monitored by the FIA’s software engineers.

“As with everything in Formula 1, the process has evolved and been refined over the years to constitute the most stringent and thorough method of monitoring F1’s incredibly complex current-generation cars, acting as a serious deterrent while being practically achievable within the logistical framework of a Grand Prix weekend.”

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