Despite an effort before the Hungarian Grand Prix to clarify the rules governing radio communication between Formula One teams and their drivers, their implementation has been derided as “bullshit”by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The rules limiting what information can be passed on during a race were brought in to prevent driver coaching and intended to put more control in their hands and away from engineers.
Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen had problems in Baku that Mercedes and Ferrari were prevented from helping to solve from the pit lane, while at the last race at Silverstone, Nico Rosberg was judged to have broken the rule when Mercedes advised him to change through a malfunctioning seventh gear. He was given a 10-second penalty that demoted him from second to third.
Vettel said it was “complete bullshit all the radio issues that we had.” The rules were initially popular as a means of putting drivers back in control but their looseness has left them open to interpretation on what can and cannot be passed on, while also denying fans a closer insight into a race.
“I think it’s a joke,” Vettel said. “I watched the race at Silverstone afterwards and I found as a spectator it was quite entertaining to hear a driver panicking on the radio and the team panicking at the same time, it was the human element in a sport that is arguably very complicated and technical. So I think [the ban] is the wrong way.”
Rosberg, who following the setback at the British Grand Prix leads Hamilton by only one point in the world championship, accepted the rationale behind the rules. “It’s come about because fans have said we’re like puppets out there,” he said. “Just doing what the engineers are saying. So now we’re trying this, and I think it’s OK. It makes it more challenging for us out on track, which is good.”
Vettel is adamant technology is fundamental to the issue. “If you want to change it you should change the cars,” he said. “Let’s go back to V12s, manual gearbox, just two buttons, one for pit speed limiter and one for radio and just confirm that we’re coming in.” But this was not realistically an option the German said. “All the buttons we have on the steering wheel are there for a reason. It’s not our fault the cars are so complicated these days you need a big manual and a steering wheel full of buttons to operate them .”
The major revision to the rule requires teams to call drivers into the pits to receive instruction on a problem with the car – the intention being to prevent them deliberately taking a penalty in order to pass on information.
Vettel remained unconvinced at the Hungaroring. “There’s a lot of boring stuff on the radio that got banned, I don’t see the point,” he said. “We’re going the wrong way, it’s bad, we should just go back to saying what we want.”
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