Dura lex sed lex. If there exists a codified rule in a written text, and this rule is not adhered to by those operating within that system, it is right for a penalty to be imposed. Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes did not comply with Article 3.5.9 paragraph E of the F1 technical regulations. Thus, the disqualification in the United States Grand Prix was automatic and final.
Both teams, after observations by Jo Bauer, the FIA’s technical delegate, sent representatives to speak with the stewards, attempting to explain that the excessive wear of the skid blocks was likely the result of the combination of a rough track and the sprint race program, which minimized the time for setting up and checking the car before the race.
These justifications are understandable but cannot generate exceptions not provided for by the rules. The stewards, considering that the competitor’s responsibility is to ensure that the car always complies with the regulations, had no choice but to exclude the two cars from the race results.
According to the rules, the thickness of the plates placed on the underside of the cars should be 10 millimeters, with a tolerance of 1 mm for the normal wear from rubbing during the race. In the case of the two inspected cars, the checks evidently found a value exceeding the norm.
The regulation is clear and precise. There is nothing to contest. However, there is a right to criticize a regulatory text that fails to adapt to the changes that Formula 1 is undergoing. This morning, while browsing Twitter, many comments were observed, pointing out that the rule about skid block wear is as old as the world. True, but this world is changing, and the legislator should adapt if it truly intends to do so.
F1: Parc ferme Is Incompatible with the Sprint Format
Constructive criticism helps improve certain operational contexts. Investigating only four cars out of twenty seems somewhat distorted. The rules provide for random checks, you might say. True. But it could also transcend this context because it is not unrealistic to imagine that other cars had skid blocks worn beyond the standard after 56 laps on uneven asphalt. We accept the dish served by the chef, but we reserve the sacrosanct right to point out that it could be more flavorful.
The justifications put forth by Mercedes and Ferrari are not as trivial as they might superficially appear. The sprint format removes points of reference for the teams, forcing them to base the setup more and more on the simulation sphere executed at the factory. As precise, realistic, and reliable as these tools may be, there are still elements that are not entirely predictable. The disqualification of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc confirms this.
If Formula 1, as it seems, wants to push more and more toward the sprint format, which could become the logistical standard of the category in the coming years, it is necessary for the legislator to take on the task of reviewing the restrictive rules of the parc ferme, a tool that has a reason to exist under normal conditions but appears anachronistic in a changing scenario.
Show your support for Scuderia Ferrari with official merchandise collection! Click here to enter the F1 online Store and shop securely! And also get your F1 tickets for every race with VIP hospitality and unparalleled insider access. Click here for the best offers to support Charles and Carlos from the track!
F1: The Contradiction of Parc ferme
Some might accuse us of not wanting to accept the stewards’ decisions. Incorrect! The aim of this analysis is to highlight certain contradictions that clash with an extremely technological sport. Let’s take a closer look at what happened in Texas last Sunday. Four cars started from the pit lane. Haas and Aston Martin, in fact, chose to change the setup for their drivers before the race.
Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg had qualified 14th and 16th, while Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll were supposed to start 17th and 19th following qualifications influenced by setups considered erroneous by the engineers. Hence the need to make adjustments to the cars, breaking the parc ferme regime and facing a grid penalty.
In just one hour, moreover, in conditions often affected by a dirty track, it is challenging to figure out how to find a solution both for the push lap and for conditions of high fuel load.
It would be enough to provide a different operational context during the sprint weekends, perhaps allowing teams to make adjustments after Saturday. Alternatively, a mini session of half an hour could be added on Sunday morning. The old and dear warm-up, which would be extremely useful today in overcoming technical difficulties stemming from the limited number of minutes available.
But Formula 1 is deaf to these requests. And perhaps to common sense. It even seems to revel in this situation that generates uncertainty and instability. Factors that contribute to keeping fans glued to various media that portray a sport as dynamic as it is bound by brain-twisting rules and incapable of adapting to change.
Source: Diego Catalano for FUnoanalisitecnica