Fifth win gives Hamilton the title lead
Key members of the F1 paddock have called for a review on grand prix racing’s current rules following a turbulent race weekend in Hungary, during which multiple drivers spoke out about their fears for the sport’s future.
The Hungarian GP weekend brought controversy during both qualifying and the race, with drivers complaining about inconsistencies with many current regulations, ranging from yellow flag behaviour through to the current radio restrictions.
Combined the incidents make for a grim picture for F1 rule makers, with many top team bosses calling for more common sense when creating regulations and running races.
Ferrari head Maurizio Arrivabene said those in charge must go back to the drawing board to simplify the rules, for the good of the sport and the spectators.
Following on from Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne’s comments late last year that the current rule book should be scrapped due to its complexity, Arrivabene said: “My president raised this topic one year ago. We have too many complications. Clear and simple rules would help.
“When you have grey areas you never know where you are going. You start to look left, right, up, down. We need to clean up all the grey areas in the rules.”
Chief of the issues during the Hungarian Grand Prix itself was the row between Mclaren’s Jenson Button and the stewards, who penalised the Briton following what they deemed as an illegal radio communication.
Button radioed his team early in the race when his brake pedal “went to the floor” after his Mclaren-honda lost hydraulic pressure. Mclaren responded from the pitwall telling Button “do not shift [gears]” and then to “stay out [of the pits]”, before calling him back to the pits where he managed to reset the system and continue.
The radio communication rules were tightened for Hungary onwards, with a change to the ruling now demanding that drivers needing technical assistance must be called back to the pits for instruction.
Despite Button pitting following the first instruction, he was later given a drivethrough penalty for receiving the message while on track.
Button, who is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, hit out after the race, branding the current rules “stupid”.
Button said: “I completely understand that drivers should not be fed information that helps us drive the car. I’m totally with that because I think it’s wrong that we’re told every corner where our team-mate is quicker or slower than us, and fuel saving and so many other things should be down to us.
“But when it’s a safety concern with the brake pedal on the floor, you shouldn’t be penalised for stopping an accident, and that’s what they did today. We’re told that if you have a problem you have to pit, and I’m guessing we had to pit earlier than we did.
“When you have a power unit that’s so complex, a driver can’t figure everything himself and when your brake pedal goes to the floor, I think of that as a safety concern.
“It’s a joke really. Stopping an accident should be praised and not penalised. This sport’s got a long way to go before it is good again.”
Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner echoed Button’s sentiments, adding: “We need a common sense rule, but in F1 that probably doesn’t exist.
I haven’t seen what was said or recorded [with the Button radio messages], but we’re overregulating and making it too complicated for fans. You need to keep things simple.”
Another contentious issue arose from qualifying when Nico Rosberg appeared to set his pole lap despite passing yellow flags in sector two.
Rosberg was on his final flying lap when he caught the tail end of an incident where Fernando Alonso had spun and beached his Mclaren in the second sector, prompting double-waved yellow flags.
While both Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton aborted their final laps, Rosberg continued to set both pole and a purple sector despite the caution.
Hamilton questioned the result with officials after the session, and the stewards looked into the incident, albeit a few hours later on Saturday afternoon.
Rosberg’s data was analysed, and the stewards were happy that he had slowed sufficiently and let him keep his lap.
However, Hamilton again insisted after the race on Sunday that the rules need to be revisited.
He said: “If it’s a double-waved yellow you have to be prepared to stop. Nico was doing the same speed at the apex as I was doing on the previous lap, so if there happened to be a car that was slowing or a marshal on the track, it would have been pretty hard for him to slow down.
“The fact he didn’t get penalised means we have to be careful because the message we are sending to drivers in the lower categories is it’s now possible for you to lose only one tenth of a second in a double-waved yellow section, which is one of the most dangerous scenarios.
“Before it was two tenths [minimum loss] with one yellow flag, and half-a-second with two yellow flags. Going into the next race we could be battling for pole and see double-waved yellows and we know just a small lift will do, only lose one tenth and we’ll be fine – then go purple in the sector.”
Rosberg countered that his speed and lap time were irrelevant due to the session running in mixed conditions, with the driest laps coming late on.
“You have to significantly reduce your speed under yellow flags, so I went 20km/h [12.4mph] slower into that corner, that’s a different world in an F1 car, you’re proper slow and everything is safe,” said Rosberg. “You’re going faster every lap, so the times were irrelevant. It’s not like the track was consistent.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo added: “People are getting away with a micro lift to show the stewards they slowed down, when they didn’t really. A double yellow is significant, and different to a single. I guess that’s why we’re not very happy right now.”
There was further fracturing after qualifying when half of the grid was subject to a lengthy debate over whether or not they fell foul of the 107 per cent rules.
Heavy rain and four red flag stoppages meant that the first stage of qualifying lasted over an hour, with many drivers struggling to get clear laps in.
As a result 11 cars failed to meet the 107 per cent margin to the fastest lap of the session, set by Nico Rosberg.
All drivers eliminated from Q1 – either by accident or by time – started at the back, whereas frontrunning cars that still failed to meet the 107 per cent cut-off, chiefly Red Bull duo Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, were allowed to continue and qualify third and fourth respectively as their times were deemed to be set in “exceptional circumstances”.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen said: “It’s a joke with the rules and qualifying is a good example. You have the 107 per cent rule and the people who didn’t get through Q1 had it applied, but everybody else did not.
“How can you have the same rule and apply it in the same qualifying two different ways? Can somebody explain how that works?
“It seems to be part of this place [F1] and something must change. It just looks bad to people outside and it’s not fair. There’s a rule and it should apply exactly the same every time.”
Rosberg (left) and Hamilton disagreed on yellow flag behaviour, Ricciardo did too... Williams and Red Bull fell foul of 107% rule, but didn’t...
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