John Watson wants Formula One to ban radios following Nico Rosberg penalty

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg during practice

The former British Grand Prix winner John Watson wants to see radio communications banned in Formula One to end the current confusion.

Watson, who watched Sunday’s race at Silverstone which ended with Nico Rosberg being demoted from second to third place after receiving instructions concerning his problems with seventh gear, thinks the simplest solution would be to ban communications altogether.

He told the Guardian: “They should look at banning it all. Ban the whole bloody lot. Take the radio away from them altogether. Then Christian Horner [Red Bull’s team principal] wouldn’t have to wear his headphones.”

When Watson was mounting a championship challenge with McLaren in the early eighties there were radio communications. But he said: “It was very primitive compared with the sophistication of today. But now it’s taking up too much time. The reason for these bans is to try to prevent control being taken away from the driver, and Formula One is a drivers’ championship. The race should be in the hands of the driver, and not somebody in the pits.

“They introduced these regulations to make it more the responsibility of the driver. If communications are retained it should be for safety only, and it should be written down clearly what those situations would be. If there was something happening to the car that was about to lead to a major incident you could have something come up on the steering wheel. In fact they could shut the engine down, shut the whole damn thing down from the pitwall.”

Rosberg was handed a 10-second time penalty at the end of Sunday’s race. That resulted in him losing a place and three championship points, so he is now just a single point ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes were told they were in breach of article 27.1 of the sporting regulations that states a driver must drive “alone and unaided”. Mercedes had given notice of their intention to appeal against the decision but confirmed on Monday that they had accepted the ruling.

By Sunday night radio communication, and not Hamilton’s fourth British Grand Prix victory, was the major talking point. The sport’s ruling body, the FIA, has been taking a stronger stance on the new restrictions, while the teams want a more relaxed approach. Horner said: “The rule is rubbish. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but the rules are the rules. The cars are technically very complex and you can understand why Mercedes would want to give that message to keep their driver running. The question going forward is are these rules right for F1?”

The Williams technical chief Pat Symonds said: “To me it’s a team sport and you should work together. On the pitwall, we know our rules pretty well – and normally when something happens, we know what to do. With this, every single race, there’s a debate goes on in the pitlane, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t do this, what are we going to do?’”

Symonds is unhappy that Force India’s Sergio Pérez crashed because of brake failure at the Red Bull Ring recently. “Poor old Pérez in Austria, how ridiculous. You’re going to do tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the car, because you can’t tell a guy his brakes are about to fail? It’s negligent. It’s not just wrong, it’s negligent.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton, who is now favourite to win a third successive world title, has reflected on one of his most complete weekends in F1 in which he dominated the entire proceedings. “I’m really, really happy because it is so easy to come into this weekend with the wrong energy, whether it is nerves, or if you listen to all the negativity that surrounded me,” he said. “But to arrive feeling fresh, feeling powerful, feeling strong and confident, and then to deliver, is what I plan to do every weekend.

“On the Monday and Tuesday I was in a beautiful place. I was by the beach, by the sea, and I felt fresh, [I had] plenty of sleep, good vibes, good food and good people and that started me out on the best week I have had all year, without a doubt. With the last race and now this race, the fire is fully lit, so I’m firing on all cylinders and hopefully this will continue.”

However, Hamilton is unhappy about the boos Rosberg received on the podium. “I feel like we are better than that. But what you just have to understand is they are mad, passionate fans,” he said. “Maybe when I get to Germany, maybe we will have the same thing.”

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