Scuderia Ferrari has attributed a change in wind direction as a contributing aspect to Charles Leclerc’s unfortunate outcome last weekend in the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, as the Monegasque driver was disqualified due to high plank wear, which was identified in the post-race inspections.
Although the polesitter initially finished sixth at the Circuit of the Americas, his car was among the four selected for a thorough examination by the FIA Technical Delegate, including the plank which is located underneath the single-seater.
The skid block, introduced as a safety measure in 1994 following the tragic deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at Imola, exhibited excessive wear during the United States Grand Prix. Consequently, both Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari SF-23 and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes W14, who finished in second place, failed the inspections for the same reason and were disqualified. This resulted in Lando Norris moving up to second place, with Carlos Sainz inheriting third place. Meanwhile, Williams rookie Logan Sargeant secured a point for finishing in tenth place.
Due to resource and time constraints, the FIA cannot thoroughly inspect every aspect of every car after each race. Instead, random checks are used as a deterrent to dissuade teams from attempting to break the rules and evade detection.
“Our car was below the minimum threshold by a few tenths [of a millimetre], but enough to bring the stewards to consider [our car] illegal,” Formula One engineer Diego Ioverno pointed out following the United States Grand Prix last weekend – “The Sprint weekend is very peculiar. You have very little time to prepare the car, basically only one session, FP1, and then you go into parc ferme. We knew it would have been tricky [with the ride height] and this is the reason why we also lifted the car throughout FP1 – and from our consideration, it should have been okay.” – he added.
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“As a matter of fact, it turned out that we were too marginal, and also because of the wind that changed direction and had a stronger intensity than what was forecasted, this brought our car to be illegal at the end of the race. With hindsight, rewinding the weekend, we may have lifted even more the car, but we would have lost performance – but we are here always to optimise our own performance.” – the current Scuderia Ferrari sporting director concluded.