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  1. #1
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    FIA Plank scrutineering - How fair is it?

    Out of twenty cars, the FIA decided to operate a policy to only scrutinize four cars randomly. However, the choice of cars they chose to scrutinize at Austin did not seem random as they chose cars from the top four teams in the competition.

    This type of scrutinizing is called sampling. The idea of sampling is to discover the presence of abnormality. Upon finding an abnormality in the sample, the sampler is normally compelled to check the rest of the items to weed out all items with the abnormality.

    In the FIA case, they had found that there were cars with below acceptable plank wear in the sample of four cars which would indicate that there are other cars that finished the race in this condition. With this knowledge, It ought to be their duty to check the full grid to weed out those cars that would fail the plank skid block test. In a fair world.

    As the cars in the sample of four were disqualified, all cars in the revised top ten ought to be scrutinized to ensure cars that would fail the test are not benefiting at the expense of the disqualified. To be properly fair. As a minimum, they should test both cars from the team with a failed car to be remotely thorough.

    What we saw at Austin was a very poor excuse for scrutineering. It was very lazy and below industry standards. We may have a car that may fail the plank test on the podium as a consequence. There is no way to tell if Sainz's or Russell's car would have failed the same test.

    It could have been a boon for the hard-working midfield teams like Williams and Alpha Tauri if a proper job was done, don't you think?

    That aside, how relevant is the skid block test in this ground effect era where the car is meant to be run as low as possible? Bouncing has become a well-known side effect of the ground effect operation. The skid block was introduced to prevent cars from harnessing ground effects illegally in the pre-2021 eras.

    With that in mind, what is the point of the skid block in this era of car regulation? Is it to not harness too much ground effect? Of course, when the plank wears, the car gets lighter, but does it get light enough to produce an unfair advantage?

    We did not see evidence of any consideration of these points in the steward's deliberation on the matter. When Hamilton is involved, they typically get very heavy-handed like the million Euro fine proposed for crossing a live track for instance.
    Last edited by Nitrodaze; 28th October 2023 at 18:43.
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  2. #2
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    That's an excellent point about sampling, if 50% of the sample fails that is a very strong indication of a need for 100% testing.

    As for weight saving when the skid block wears, I would think it makes no difference so long as the car passes the weight check after the race. How you reduce weight during the race is not important.

  3. #3
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    The scrutineering regs are just as fair now as they have been for the decades they have been in use. Actually probably even more so now, as they have data they can corelate to the wear of any tested planks, thus more data points to go by. I think the only reason it has come into question is the fact that drivers were disqualified, and suddenly there are questions as to why that is. Yet all those same drivers and teams have known for years that cars get tested.... it's just that this time cars got caught out of spec and DQ'd.

    Though the FIA states many tests are random, they also cite information from several sources on what cars to check, and why. This includes things as simple as smell (of the titanium per Jo Bauer), onboard video and audio showing bouncing heads and hearing impacts, and sensor data. The sensors designed to measure porpoising are still in place and visible to the FIA, and by now they should have a fairly solid metric of what is a mild or harsh impact. Thus in reality the tests are not completely random, yet can be in cases where there is no data or other information leading them to think any particular car is illegal.

    Consider this.... in most cases this year 2 or less plank tests were done, in Australia 3 were done, but all passed. At the USGP, suddenly 4 were tested. It's quite possible that four being tested was due to 2 being flagged by data, and two more actually selected as random. This was mentioned in Sky broadcast from what I've read, and one of the people was Button.


    Though they could go to the extra expense and change the system, I personally think it's any issue because of unsubstantiated claims, stirred in the press by Lewis and Toto. Short of seeing the actual spec measured, nobody has anything other than speculation on if everyone else was legal. And with so few cars having even been found to be illegal, it seems that most teams stay within the reg most of the time, and the data supports that.



    As for claims of the FIA being heavy handed with Lewis, both he and Leclerc got the exact same penalty, as has every know case I've seen of excessive plank wear. The actual numbers have no bias.

  4. Likes: Bagwan (30th October 2023),gm99 (29th October 2023),Mia 01 (31st October 2023),TWRC (9th November 2023)
  5. #4
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    Even if the FIA only tests two or three planks a race, it means that they have tested around 40 cars up to the US GP this season. Apparently, out of these, only Hamilton and Leclerc have failed it. That others may not have complied with the regs, but haven't been found out, doesn't change the fact that those had cars had excessive wear. Once that has been established (and not even Toto doubts it has), there is no leeway, as @airshifter has already pointed out.
    As to why the stewards didn't consider what the point of a skid block is: Well, that's quite simply not their job. They have to execute the rules, not question why the rule exists in the first place.
    Oct. 31, 1999 - one of the blackest days in motorsports.

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    Quote Originally Posted by airshifter View Post
    Consider this.... in most cases this year 2 or less plank tests were done, in Australia 3 were done, but all passed. At the USGP, suddenly 4 were tested. It's quite possible that four being tested was due to 2 being flagged by data, and two more actually selected as random. This was mentioned in Sky broadcast from what I've read, and one of the people was Button.
    Your statistics are slightly faulty. The only true representation of compliance would be if all the cars were checked at the same time/place. There are too many other variables between tracks, elevation of same, set up of cars, etc. Otherwise it's let's see what we can get away with this weekend - after all there is only a one or two in (number of races this season) that we'll get caught.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Used to be Starter View Post
    Your statistics are slightly faulty. The only true representation of compliance would be if all the cars were checked at the same time/place. There are too many other variables between tracks, elevation of same, set up of cars, etc. Otherwise it's let's see what we can get away with this weekend - after all there is only a one or two in (number of races this season) that we'll get caught.
    The numbers are valid, and personally I don't think they just randomly found cars out of spec. People can disagree if they want, but in almost 30 years with only 3 cars DQ'd over the issue, I think compliance is the norm.

    Not that I disagree at all that true compliance can only be guaranteed if all cars are checked all the time. That is the case with any scrutineering, and always will be. Some of the more invasive procedures will all take time, and probably more money, for them to do this.

    In the case of the plank checks, I would think they could come up with a way to make the inspections easier and quicker, but as usual get bogged down in the details and make it slower.

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    Quote Originally Posted by airshifter View Post
    The numbers are valid, and personally I don't think they just randomly found cars out of spec. People can disagree if they want, but in almost 30 years with only 3 cars DQ'd over the issue, I think compliance is the norm.

    Not that I disagree at all that true compliance can only be guaranteed if all cars are checked all the time. That is the case with any scrutineering, and always will be. Some of the more invasive procedures will all take time, and probably more money, for them to do this.

    In the case of the plank checks, I would think they could come up with a way to make the inspections easier and quicker, but as usual get bogged down in the details and make it slower.
    That is the answer they need .
    The titanium skid blocks should be mandated to be removeable in quick order so that they are easily measured .

    It also should be noted that the excuse given was blaming the sprint race format for not allowing set-up time .

  10. Likes: airshifter (31st October 2023)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bagwan View Post
    That is the answer they need .
    The titanium skid blocks should be mandated to be removeable in quick order so that they are easily measured .

    It also should be noted that the excuse given was blaming the sprint race format for not allowing set-up time .
    And in this case, I think "excuse" is the proper term. They have loads of data, and just got it wrong, or possibly intentionally pushed the setup too far.

    Some sharp eyes on other forums have noted that Merc admits that they rarely run a full fuel load in practice sessions, where most teams do. Just this data point alone seems it would be fairly important in determining minimum ride height.

    Either way, I don't think the inspection was random myself, at least not on the two cars found in violation.

  12. Likes: Bagwan (1st November 2023)
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    Quote Originally Posted by airshifter View Post
    And in this case, I think "excuse" is the proper term. They have loads of data, and just got it wrong, or possibly intentionally pushed the setup too far.

    Some sharp eyes on other forums have noted that Merc admits that they rarely run a full fuel load in practice sessions, where most teams do. Just this data point alone seems it would be fairly important in determining minimum ride height.

    Either way, I don't think the inspection was random myself, at least not on the two cars found in violation.
    As I understand it , the cars first scrutinized were flagged for displaying a lot of sparking from the undertray .
    Once they found both to have failed the test , they chose two more and they both passed .

    I believe it was explained during the Sky coverage .
    It was not random at all , but rather targeted , and logically so .

  14. Likes: airshifter (2nd November 2023)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bagwan View Post
    As I understand it , the cars first scrutinized were flagged for displaying a lot of sparking from the undertray .
    Once they found both to have failed the test , they chose two more and they both passed .

    I believe it was explained during the Sky coverage .
    It was not random at all , but rather targeted , and logically so .
    And if we look at the source of the Sky coverage as a valid source, then it completely changes the picture.

    One could say that 100% of the flagged or suspected cars failed the test, and 100% of the non flagged cars tested passed the test.

    By covering the front of the field, the knee jerk responses of the leaders not being checked was put to rest before even being stated.


    I think they could change things to make checks easier, but it seems to me that they have a good grip on when violations might be taking place.

  16. Likes: Bagwan (2nd November 2023)

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