Rosberg penalty raises concern over radio ban
Teams are worried by the ten-second penalty handed to the Mercedes driver for radio communications at the British GP
Senior figures in F1 have questioned the heavy restrictions on radio communication between teams and drivers in the wake of Nico Rosberg’s penalty at the British Grand Prix.
Rosberg was penalised ten seconds, dropping him from second to third, after Mercedes were found to have broken the rules on permitted messages, when they instructed him on how to solve a gearbox problem late in the race.
They were held to be at fault for telling Rosberg what he needed to do in terms of driving the car after the problem had been solved by a setting change on the steering wheel – not for the instruction on the change itself.
After being told the correct procedure to adjust on the steering wheel, Rosberg was told to “avoid seventh gear.”
He asked: “What does that mean, I have to shift through it?” And was told: “Affirm Nico, you need to shift through it.” Red Bull’s Christian Horner: “The question going forward is: ‘Are these rules right for F1?’”
This communication was considered to have broken article 27.1 of the sporting regulations, which dictates that “the driver must drive the car alone and unaided”, as well as specific clauses of the restrictions on radio messages that were outlined in a technical directive to all teams at the start of the season.
But the issue has re-ignited concerns about the wisdom of the ban itself, which has been the subject of complaints from teams and drivers throughout the season.
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said he thought senior figures should take another look at the radio ban. “Those rules maybe need a re-think between the FIA and the teams to go more into detail on what is allowed or not,” he said, “because by not communicating at all, you might as well unplug the radio and throw it out of the car. It is part of driving since a long time, but it needs to be discussed.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner went even further, describing the radio ban as “rubbish”, and saying: “It doesn’t make a great deal of sense”.
“The cars are technically very complex and you can understand why Mercedes would want to give that message to keep their driver running,” he said. “It’s a team sport at the end of the day and the cars are a lot more complicated than they were even four years ago for the drivers to work out what they should and shouldn’t be doing. The question going forward is: ‘Are these rules right for F1?’”
However, there seems little chance of anything changing. The radio ban is a pet project of FIA president Jean Todt, and he has so far shown no inclination to back down. Rosberg’s penalty dropped him from second to third place, after he was told by his team over the radio to avoid seventh gear