Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc disqualified from F1 US GP

Lewis Hamilton finished just two seconds behind winner Max Verstappen in the 2023 US GP

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Lewis Hamilton has lost his podium from the 2023 United States Grand Prix after his floor plank was worn down too far, with Charles Leclerc also disqualified from sixth for the same problem.

Planks must be at least 9.8mm thick when new and aren’t allowed to wear down to less than 9mm thick, but both Mercedes and Ferrari were referred to the stewards in post-race scrutineering checks.

The double disqualification sees Lando Norris promoted to runner-up and Carlos Sainz earns just his third podium of the season after initially finishing 13 seconds behind Hamilton.

A document released by the FIA post-race said: “A physical floor and a plank wear inspection was carried out on car numbers 16 and 44.

“The skids located in the area -825 ≥ XR ≥ – 1025 are found to be not in compliance with Article 3.5.9 e) of the 2023 Formula One Technical Regulations. I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration.”

Austin was the closest Hamilton‘s got to a Grand Prix victory all season, as he finished just two seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen, to record his 10th podium in 11 races at the Circuit of the Americas.

However, that is now all up in smoke following the decision by the FIA. Aside from Sainz‘s podium, the most significant impact of the decision is that Logan Sargeant earns his first-ever points in F1 as he is promoted to 10th position, after he finished the US GP in 12th.

Lewis Hamilton’s car after 2023 United States Grand Prix | Mercedes F1 Team / Sebastian Kawka

FIA disqualify Leclerc and Hamilton

Following an investigation and hearing from a representative from Mercedes as well as one from Ferrari, the FIA’s ruling was as follows. 

“The rear skid in the area defined in the Technical Delegate’s report was outside the thresholds outlined in Article 3.5.9 e) of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations,” the FIA said in a statement

“During the hearing the team 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 outlined in Article 3.5.9 e) of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations, which includes a tolerance for wear. 

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

What rule have Hamilton and Leclerc broken?

Planks help protect the floors of F1 cars, running right underneath the cockpit, and as with everything else in the sport are subject to extensive rules, and limitations in the 183-page technical regulations.

Article 3.5.9e reads: “The thickness of the plank assembly measured normal to the lower surface must be 10mm ± 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.”

Previous instances of plank wear

Investigations regarding the wear of the plank on an F1 car are almost non-existent, but on the odd occasion when they are called into question, disqualification from the race is usually the outcome. 

The 2001 United States GP saw Jarno Trulli disqualified after the race for a worn plank, but Jordan appealed the decision and had it over turned by the FIA International Court of Appeal as a steward was absent when the original decision was made.

In 1994, Michael Schumacher was disqualified from the Belgian GP for an excessively worn plank, despite spinning across a kerb in the race. 

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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