Date: October 27, 2023
In the wake of the disqualification of Formula 1 stars Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has defended its post-race scrutineering process amid criticism and controversy.
Hamilton, who initially finished second behind race winner Max Verstappen, and Leclerc, who crossed the line in sixth place, were both disqualified after FIA post-race checks revealed that their cars did not comply with F1 regulations. The issue at hand was excessive plank wear, a violation of the rules governing the sport. However, the selective nature of these checks raised questions about the fairness and effectiveness of the FIA’s inspection process.
In response to the criticism, the FIA released a detailed statement emphasizing that post-race checks are conducted at random to ensure compliance with regulations. The governing body clarified that teams are unaware of which specific areas of their cars might be examined beyond the standard checks carried out on every car each weekend. According to the FIA, this uncertainty acts as a deterrent, discouraging teams from attempting to flout technical rules deliberately.
“The vast majority of the time, all cars are found to be compliant. However, as happened in Austin, breaches of the rules are occasionally found and reported to the Stewards, who decide the appropriate action to take,” the FIA statement read.
The governing body defended its current process, stating that it is the most stringent and thorough method of monitoring the complex current-generation F1 cars. The FIA stressed that the process has evolved and been refined over the years, serving as a practical and achievable means of ensuring compliance within the logistical framework of a Grand Prix weekend.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff accepted the blame for his team’s failure to adhere to the rules in Austin, with technical director James Allison expressing the team’s disappointment and embarrassment about the disqualification. The incident highlighted the challenges faced by F1 lawmakers in maintaining a fair and level playing field for all competitors.
As the FIA continues to stand by its scrutineering process, the controversy surrounding the disqualification of Hamilton and Leclerc serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between enforcing regulations and ensuring the integrity of one of the world’s most prestigious racing series.