The FIA is considering standardizing the floor plank on Formula 1 cars for the 2026 season to reduce complexity and ensure fair competition. This move comes after the disqualification of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc at the United States Grand Prix for excessive wear on their car’s planks, highlighting the challenges teams face in balancing performance with regulation compliance.
Between the lines
- The FIA aims to standardize the floor plank to simplify the component for the 2026 F1 cars.
- Contention arose after Hamilton and Leclerc’s disqualification in the US Grand Prix due to plank wear.
- Teams often push the boundaries for optimal downforce, risking rule compliance and car performance.
- FIA’s head of single seaters, Nikolas Tombazis, acknowledges the fine balance between car performance and circuit responsibility.
- Previous attempts to standardize the plank were voted down by teams, but the FIA is hopeful for 2026.
The FIA’s push for standardization is a response to the complex challenges teams face with the current regulations. The floor plank, an essential part of the car’s aerodynamics, has been a point of debate, especially after incidents like the disqualifications at the United States Grand Prix. The sport’s governing body is criticized for selective scrutineering, with some teams possibly skirting the rules unnoticed.
The pursuit of performance has teams walking a tightrope, optimizing downforce while adhering to regulations. The cars’ low ride height, crucial for ground-effect aerodynamics, can lead to issues like bottoming out on bumpy tracks, as seen with Lando Norris in Las Vegas. The FIA’s Tombazis points out the dilemma between track design responsibilities and teams’ setups.
Despite the FIA’s intentions, governance processes can stall changes, as teams have voting power over such decisions. A previous proposal for a uniform skid plank was not supported enough by the teams. However, the FIA remains optimistic that for the 2026 season, they will be able to simplify the regulations in this area, which they couldn’t do for the current season.
Standardizing parts in F1 is often a contentious topic, balancing innovation with cost control and fairness. The floor plank debate exemplifies this ongoing struggle within the sport. As the FIA looks to the future, fans and teams alike are keen to see how these changes will impact the racing landscape.