Fifth win gives Hamil­ton the ti­tle lead

Motor Sport News - - Front Page - By Rob Lad­brook

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.”

Ra­dio row

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.”

Flag­ging talk

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.”

Qual­i­fy­ing times

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...

Yel­low flags were sore point

Pho­tos: LAT

But­ton was in the points be­fore fail­ure, and penalty

But­ton said rules were “stupid” amid safety fears

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