McLaren’s Oscar Piastri warns of disqualifications at Brazilian GP

Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified from the 2023 United States GP for excessive plank wear

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McLaren‘s Oscar Piastri says he doesn’t expect a recurrence of the disqualifications at the United States Grand Prix to happen at the 2023 Brazilian GP due to the difference in track characteristics at Interlagos, but it can’t be ruled out completely.

Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were randomly selected by FIA scrutineers following the conclusion of the race at the Circuit Of The Americas and were disqualified after excessive plank wear beyond the 1mm tolerance was discovered.

Mercedes attributed the infraction of the rules to a combination of their new floor upgrade producing more downforce than anticipate but also the lack of long-run simulations due to the weekend structure, which they said didn’t allow them to fully analyse the wear caused by the Texas track.

When a sprint happens, teams are only allowed one hour to set-up their cars before they are locked into parc ferme meaning that they can no longer be changed, but whilst the Brazilian GP is a sprint weekend the Australian doesn’t anticipate it happening this time as Interlagos isn’t as bumpy as Austin.

“I think maybe people will be a bit more conservative,” Piastri said to media. “I don’t know because I’ve not driven here, but I don’t think here will be as bumpy as Austin, I think that’s what caught out a lot of people.

“Of course, you still have the same risks, being that once you send the car out for qualifying you can’t touch it again – unless you want to start from the pit lane twice. So maybe the risk is a bit lower, but it’s still definitely there.”

Oscar Piastri during practice for 2023 Mexico City GP | McLaren

More set-up flexibility on sprint weekends

Sprints have been heavily discussed since their introduction in 2021 and have gone through different iterations in 2022 and now 2023 as the Formula 1 aims to improve the challenge for the drivers and the spectacle for fans.

They are once again a source of conversation in this season of F1 as teams complain about the limited margin for set-ups, number of races and the point of them at all. Notably Max Verstappen has said they’re simply a forecast for the Sunday race and takes away from the entertainment of the main race.

“I think the first thing, and I think Austin probably highlighted this, is giving the teams a bit more flexibility to change things,” Piastri said.

“Because at the moment, it’s a very difficult decision. If you know that your car is going to be on the edge of illegal, it’s either you run the risk and get disqualified or start from the pit-lane, if you change [set-up] before the sprint twice.

“That’s a very difficult decision for teams to make, so I think some more flexibility on that would help things out a bit, and potentially changing the order of the two qualifying sessions, maybe having the sprint qualifying first and then having the main race qualifying on Saturday.”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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