Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2016

Rosberg under investigation for radio assistance

2016 British Grand Prix

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Nico Rosberg’s second place could be under threat as he is under investigation for radio messages he received after experiencing a problem with his gearbox.

The stewards have summoned Rosberg to appear before them at four o’clock this afternoon for an “alleged breach of Article 27.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, that the driver must drive the car alone and unaided”.

Team were given much stricter limits regarding what the may and may not tell their drivers on the radios this year. Mercedes were unable to assist Lewis Hamilton when his car was in the wrong engine mode during the European Grand Prix.

The following portion of Rosberg’s radio communications was broadcast during the race:

Message
Nico RosbergGearbox problem.
Tony RossChassis default zero, one.
Tony RossAvoid seventh gear Nico.
Nico RosbergWhat does that mean? I have to shift through it.
Tony RossAffirm, Nico, affirm. You have to shift through it.

Rosberg finished 1.3 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen so even a small time penalty would cost him at least one position.

2016 British Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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61 comments on “Rosberg under investigation for radio assistance”

  1. Few points,

    1, Why didn’t Merc do the same in Baku then with Lewis? From where I’m standing lack of consistency
    2, If Merc get away with it then everyone is going to start doing this. Rules are there to be respected- however stupid or great. The rules are the rules
    3, It’s the last statements that mean this is a slam dunk penalty for Nico- “driving past 7th gear”.

    We will see what is decided but from a pure racing fan’s point of view the rules have gone too far the other way.

    1. There’s a difference between only running slow due to a false program, or risking a gearbox problem which could cause the rear end of the car to lock up, leading to a crash in 7th gear.
      Of course, at this point we’re not sure what the problem exactly was, but if 7th was on the verge of falling apart, this could have simply been an advice regarding the safety of the driver, which if I recall correctly was okay under the rules.

      Will be interesting to see how this turns out, though.

      1. Force India where denied permission to tell Perez that his brakes where about to fail, moments before being sent into a wall.

        Nico had a sensor issue, evidently as it was rectified by changing modes. He still could have continued in gears 1-6, and in any case, it wasn’t ‘safety’ issue. It was a performance issue.

      2. With regards to the gearbox issue, Horner complained that they watched the onboard TV stream from Rosberg’s car and saw that Rosberg continued using 7th gear as normal once he reset the gearbox settings.

        Now, it is obvious that they have a strong incentive to push their case as hard as they can, but their attitude is that Rosberg did not have a dangerous fault with the car that could not have been solved without Mercedes giving him instructions over the radio on how to adjust the settings of the car.

      3. That’s the way I’m reading it. They probably saw this as a potentially race-ending issue so took their chances. What’s the worst that will happen for telling him? Disqualified from the race? Seems like a chance worth taking if the alternative is a gearbox change grid penalty on top of a DNF. In Baku, Hamilton’s car was just slow. Here they were probably afraid it was going to break.

      4. If it was just safety of the driver, they could just tell him to park the car. I’ve read through the list here http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2016/03/15/2016-rules-glance/ and I can’t see any one of the exceptions that says a driver can have advice with regards _solving_ a gearbox problem.

  2. Is this the first clear infringement of the rule, perhaps they will get a stern warning. But the rule is stupid nevertheless.

  3. Just wondering.
    If Mercedes can clearly tell Hamilton in Baku that they cannot help him with what buttons to push or settings to switch to during his race impairing issue in Baku, why specifically, without blinking, tell Nico how to fix his problem in Silverstone?
    In Hamilton’s case he ultimately and frustratingly finished 5th but Nico was able to maintain his advantage over other drivers including Vesterppen who was hunting him down to overtake.
    As usual, Nico is expected to receive little to no punishment.

    1. In hamilton’s case, he was just losing a few tenths per lap but in Rosberg’s case, he would have retired if the problem wasn’t fixed.

      1. I think Hamilton was losing quite a bit more than a few tenths in Baku…. When his issue fixed itself he suddenly got fast lap which was over 1 second faster than his previous lap.

        In Baku, Merc asked if they could tell Lewis how to fix the problem he had. They were told they could not. Here they immediately responded to Rosberg’s problem. I don’t know what the penalty might be but (with the rules as they are right now) they have to have one.

        On a side note, if there’s no specific safety issue, I don’t see any difference in terms of optimizing settings that allow a driver to go slightly faster (as was the case for HAM in Baku) or fixing Rosbergs issue that possibly allowed him to finish the race. If the rule sets the expectation that the driver should know whatever modes are available, he should have to figure it out himself.

        1. Hamilton was losing more because he was frustrated playing with the buttons on his steering wheel. Other than that, his loss was only 0.2 seconds.

      2. I think there is no explaining the issue as you did. Mercedes were quick to enforce the rules in Hamilton’s case. Without him being the good racer he is, he could as well have fallen back even further in Baku. (Mind you, I am just stating the events as they occured.) In Nico’s case, we are not sure his race would have ended. Remember he still had other gears that were working. And if he is indeed as smart as a lot of people are quick to tell us, the moment he detected the issue, he should have known what gear to stay away from.
        Now, neither you nor I can tell exactly the kind of issue he was encountering or whether it could have led to a complete failure of the system, but it goes to show the folly in the continued narrative of who among the Mercedes pairing is the whizkid while the other is just a “rapper”.

        1. There is a world of difference between helping a driver find the correct settings to allow him to get the maximum power to drive fast and telling a driver what gear to avoid to prevent him from crashing/having to stop the car imminently Tata.

          If you don’t understand that, sigh.

          It doesn’t tell us anything with regards to how good either driver is at coping with car issues though. We have seen both of them having to drive around engine, hybrid system, gearbox issues, failing brakes (or BBW) etc in the past. Some of those are manageable, some things just are not (or would you want to say that Hamilton needing a new component for the engine several times proves he is not able to drive around that??)

          1. We may disagree with the rules, and I think we all do, but that doesn’t mean they are optional. Unless Rosbergs car was a clear danger to life, then the radio message was against the rules.

          2. But your explanation is contradictory in teh sense that the ultimate aim of telling a driver what to do in such situations is to make him driver faster than he was doing at the time of the issue. Hamilton was losing time badly same as Nico was doing in this case, gearbox issue or not. The parallel being that there was an issue which potentially could determine the ultimate position of the driver.
            A gear box issue unless it catastrophically explodes is not dangerous as some as saying here. And if it was that bad, Nico should have retired.

            I find the second part of your comment interesting being that for those very same things you listed, the acumen of both men have been put to question. As brainless as those statements are, it makes one wonder what the motive is by those who constantly trot it out.
            For an issue in Baku, very similar as the one today in Silverstone, the question by fans, pundits and bloggers was how smart or dumb Lewis is for asking for help in fixing an issue his car was having. That was the big news.

      3. Perez smashed into a wall in Austria because the team couldn’t tell him of his impending brake failure.

    2. Perhaps after Baku Merc has considered there strategy and decided to challenge the regulations. It could be that if the penalties are better defined teams could make better choices abit when to talk.

      Of course it is BS anuwau, I tuned in to watch a race!

  4. I thought using the simulator frequently, would have made Rosberg aware of what he needed to do.

    1. Simulator does not simulate a technical problem.

      1. I would be shocked if this was true

    2. It shows how ignorant people are who continue on about who is smart and who isn’t smart, who is an engineer driver and who isn’t an engineer driver, who is a rapper and who is steadily at the factory poring over data and helping to build the cars because he is “cerebral”, “brainy”, “technically savvy” and of course and “engineer”.
      You would have thought that Nico in the very least would know how to shift through gears and stay away from a particular one without asking for help.

      1. Interestingly Tata, all those who mocked Hamilton and praised Rosberg in Baku are quiet this time.

  5. i hope he doesn’t get a penalty, or gets one that is applied next weekend. Because as it stands right now, i have predicted correctly 4 out of the top 5=))

  6. geoffgroom44 (@)
    10th July 2016, 15:45

    I am not a Nico fan.However, he did do quite well today and it was an interesting struggle between him and MV. Notwithstanding this, rules are rules and if they apply to every other racer, then they also apply to him. That all being said I am confident that Lewis does not need help from the rulebook to establish his dominance in this year’s championship., he was just in a different category to everyone else today.

  7. Congratulations to Mercedes for forcing the issue on this useless rule. Good for F1 that they are in a position to do so.

  8. I am strongly against this radio ban.
    But if Force India couldn’t tell Perez his brakes were fading, and he crashed, Mercedes shouldn’t be able to tell Rosberg what to do today. But it’s Rosberg, so I feel nothing will happen.

    1. +100

    2. Couldn’t agree more. It’s a stupid rule. But it’s a rule that is in place and has ALREADY affected outcome of previous races. Lewis, Kimi, Sergio were all affected. The teams asked for permission to address the issues and were denied. So now they don’t ask for permission and that makes it alright?
      Either they penalize Rosberg today or they need to throw this rule out all together.

    3. Thing is, FI did not even ask the FIA whether they could or could not last race @edmarques. Actually this is a very good case to finally get a bit of clarity where the line has to be drawn. I certainly hope that the outcome of this will mean that in the future a team like FI would feel fine to tell a driver before their brakes completely fail.

      1. Pretty sure Bob Fearnly was told they wern’t allowed to inform their driver.

    4. This. The brake problems were terminal and they weren’t allowed to say anything. Now where do you draw the line at terminal? The gearbox could lose a gear or two or all but one and you can still drive the car. Is that terminal? If so how slow do you have to be going for it to be classed as terminal?

      Unless they enforce this as illegal this time round they are making a rod for their own backs in what is deemed as acceptable for the rest of the year…

      In other news another example of why this rule needs adjusting.

    5. I am quite sure FI could have told Perez about the problem if they had asked the FIA. Similar to McLaren could have changed Raikönnens flatspotted tire at the Nürburgring in 2005 but didn’t even asked for it and payed the price.

      1. Well Nürburgring as nothing to do in this debate @unitedkingdomracing as they clearly could have changed Raikkonen’s tyre. McLaren decided to gamble on this to make the maximum amount of points. The suspension failed and we have a story we still remember to this day.

  9. Maybe Nico should spend more time in the simulator… :P

  10. formula hamilton to a new level! i can’t believe how much luck he has

    1. In what way was Hamilton lucky today? His race was mostly uneventful.

  11. There’s a huge difference between an wrong car setup and a car problem. In Rosberg case it was a problem in the gearbox and I think it’s under the rules to assist a driver in the case of a car failure.

  12. If the FIA are actually serious about this, then this decision is very important. They’re pretty much setting future precedent on this type of penalty since Mercedes broke the rule about as blatantly as you can do so.

    To me a 30 second time penalty would definitely make teams think twice before crossing the line in the future. That would drop Nico to 4th and lose his point lead, but he should be glad his car made it to the finish altogether…

    1. Just a 30 second penalty means absolutely nothing. If there was no help from the radio, the gearbox would have broken down and he would not have finished.

      The only punishment is disqualification.

  13. I really am surprised how suddenly many of the same people who were arguing that the current radio regulations are stupid now are the most in favour of seeing Rosberg penalized.

    First of all, this was something completely different than what Hamilton had to cope with in Baku. Mercedes testing the rule here, could very well do us all the favour of seeing drivers actually being warned when their car is on the brink of breaking down (see Perez’ brake issue last race), making the radio rules somewhat less crazy.

    And then there is another factor. Why on earth would you want to see Hamilton take the championship lead because his teammate was penalised? Surely it will be far more satisfactory if he does that by winning next race convincingly, as he is fully capable to do off course.

    And then the convulted reasoning that because some people argued Hamilton might have been hurt by not spending as much time in the simulator (something HE himself had highlighted right before the race, making it a bit if a thing) that suddenly a not being able to “fix” a broken gearbox proves that Rosberg is not smart, or that Hamilton is not stupid or whatever.

    Off course these guys are not stupid. None of them. They can drive at crazy speeds while also watching the screens around the track, thinking about their race strategy, managing the tyres and wondering about the weather to come. AND manage to discuss other drivers behavior on track while doing so. Wow.

    And then when a Hamilton takes the lovely initiative to say how its better in the UK because you don’t get as much boo-ing, what do the crowd do? They boo. Sigh, just Sigh.

    1. scottishwildcat
      10th July 2016, 16:39

      Hamilton deserves all the boos he gets. He’s all smiles when he’s winning, but such a petulant unsporting little man as soon as the slightest thing goes against him.

    2. There is nothing inconsistent about thinking a rule is stupid and also thinking that rule should be enforced when it was current during a race just run. If the FIA decided to ditch it for the next race, that would be great, but it must be applied consistently to this race as with previous races. What that will mean for Rosberg or Mercedes I don’t know, but there it is.

    3. There are really only 2 options in this case: hand Merc a big penalty or scrap this rule tomorrow.

    4. Probably because, stupid or no, their team and/or driver followed the rules. I expect you have stupid rules in your workplace, stupid rules in your country and stupid rules in your household. But you follow them, because it is the law, the rules or an agreement you have with your family. If you compete in a sport, I expect you follow the rules of the sport too. The current ruleset is the formula, and the current formula is the rules. We may not like them, but while they are the rules, they should be respected. If every team had ignored the rules from the outset, and just continued to ignore them, then OK, but you can’t follow them for so long, making dramatic statements over the radio to prove you are following them, and then when your 1-2 is in jepody, break them and expect no repercussions just because the rule is unpopular.

      That being said, why would a punishment have to take the form of taking Nico’s points away from him? They could deduct points from the team but not the drivers, fine the team, warn the team, warn the driver etc etc.

      Also, mobs and crouds famously are influenced by the lowest IQ the most, so what do you expect. Even Britain has idiots, and idiots in a croud make the entire croud into idiots.

      1. Think everyone misses the point here, 135000 fans paid a lot of money to be there, the result is the result, any punishments should be for the next race. Imagine waking up this morning to find Murray had not won the Tennis or France had one Euro its unfair on fans, when flag falls should be same as final whistle.

        For the record think the radio ban is ludicrous but also think Mercedes (not Rosberg) clearly cheated the rules and they alone should be punished

    5. I disagree with both of you about the options available here @neil-davies, @mosquite.

      There is no need to ditch the whole rule when (or rather IF) Mercedes does prove that telling a driver how to avoid having to park the car due to an immitent technical issue is allowed. Instead such a ruling gives a better basis to understand the limit of the rule and avoid crazy results where a car crashes (or has to stop and end their race) when it makes more sense to first tell the driver to try and cope, but the teams have been afraid to do it for fear of repercussions.

      Another important factor is that until now none of the teams even has a clue what the penalties for not heeding the radio rules are (Pat Symonds confirmed that last race). At the very least we are now going to get at least a bit of clarity.

      All in all, compared to Mercedes having heeded the rule as most teams understood it until today and seeing Rosberg have to park the car 4 laps from the end of the race, and ridding us of the closest thing to a good fight for the championship, I really see no downside. Either we get a bit more sensible rule allowing for preventing a driver having to end their race, or at least we get a clue about the penalties for breaking a stupid rule, and Mercedes still don’t lose more than they would have without having acted.

      1. For non Rosberg fans that’s also frustrating @bascb .
        When he has problems, he got help from the pits. When others have problems (Hamilton, Raikkonen, Perez), they have to figure it out themselves. That’s unfair and that’s why Rosberg needs to be penalized, as stupid the rule is.

        1. Sigh again @x303. Surely it is quite a different situation for Hamilton (and Rosberg and Kimi) in Baku, where they all had some kind of issue with the car not giving maximum power vs a situation we saw with Rosberg where the team was desperat to prevent a DNF.

          As for Perez, insofar the team did know up front it was going off, they did not even consider warning him (FI confirmed that they had not even asked the FIA whether they could tell.), maybe they should have, but they didn’t. Again not really comparable. I am glad that this case now set a bit of a precedent in what kind of cases teams can prevent critical failures and save us from things exactly like we saw with Perez last race.

          That has nothing to do with being a fan of any driver.

          1. The frustration as all to do with being a fan of either of them.
            I completely get why you are calling for a clarification on the rule and I don’t argue that @bascb .
            You asked why so many people opposing the rule want it to be enforced, I proposed an explanation. DNFs are part of racing and if Rosberg had to park the car, so be it. It would display the stupidity of the rule while keeping it application fair: no interpretation, just the letter of the law. We know how inconsistent the stewards are, let’s keep as little interpretation as possible.

          2. Not at all @x303,

            As I am not really a fan of any driver (i just want to see exciting racing really), I can securely say that this is not about being frustrated. Maybe it has to do with a misguided fandom idea, but not with being a fan at all.

            Because why would a true fan want to see his favourite win because of reliability when he is fully capable of winning despite having worse reliability himself!

            I really have no desire to see a dumb rule being “shown for its dumbness”. That is as crazy as saying that Brexit was good idea because it exposed the underlying xenofobism in the UK. Instead we should be happy if the rule is now clearer.

            I do not think it was a matter of interpretation at all by the way. The part where the team told their driver about the (potentially race ending) issue at stake was fine (many teams had felt insecure about even that being true before yesterday), but the stewards made clear that the following help how to cope with the issue was not.
            Next time a team will be carefull to do the first, not the second.

      2. I agree with all that, my point was only that the rule has to be applied now, whatever that may mean in terms of penalties for Rosberg, because the race was run under that rule and everyone else ran the race in compliance with it. Which is why it’s fine to say there should be a penalty and still want the rule changed if that is what someone thinks.

    6. I really am surprised how suddenly many of the same people who were arguing that the current radio regulations are stupid now are the most in favour of seeing Rosberg penalized.

      Aren’t these two completely different things @bascb?

      1. (sorry, forgot quote marks and can’t fix)

      2. Well, the strange thing is that it seem to be many of the people who complained about the rules being crazy and far to restricted after Baku (because for most it seems their beloved driver was hurt from them) now suddenly are being adamant that Rosberg should be penalised for being told about having a gearbox issue, completely ignoring that those cases are not the same at all @john-h.

        By now we know that there WAS a difference, as the team was clearly allowed to tell Rosberg that he had an issue with his 7th gear, although they still made a mistake by then helping him by confirming the solution he proposed.

        I also think the rules are stupid here. They are unclear, and thereby it seems teams are afraid to say anything (see FI last race). I think they are convulted too, and agree that some advice to Hamilton on how to solve that annoying issue in Baku should have been ok. And then nobody bothered to tell the teams about the potential penalties either.

        But when the rules are stupid, why then do we suddenly feel better when a driver one dislikes would get penalised by the team informing them when last time we were frustrated that a driver we do like did not get helped. That is just bias.

        1. Because we fell that both drivers (the loved one and the other) were treated fairly.

  14. Driver coaching not allowed, they coached Rosberg on how to resolve a technical issue and by doing so affected the outcome of the race.

    It was not a safety issue. If it was then why did he keep on racing?

    If they get away with this then it sets a precedent that will make this already contentious rule irrelevant.

    If he gets a penalty, it should be one that reflects that the outcome of the race was decided upon by this infringement.

  15. If it was a safety issue and the gearbox was likely to seize he should have been told to stop, that`s within the rules I believe. He was helped by his team to gain a second place.

  16. If the gearbox was ‘critical’ then you’d expect that Nico would have had to be going significantly slower until the end of the race to protect it and make sure it didn’t completely fail. Instead he was able to keep Max at a constant 1.5 second gap… Maybe it wasn’t quite as ‘critical’ as all that then.
    If Merc and Nico get away with this it will have been one of the biggest get out of jail free cards that F1 has given out for years.

  17. Wayne McKinnon
    11th July 2016, 10:51

    So if the team were to put a pit board out with the required settings is this still allowed..yep I know it would be difficult for most of us to read at soeed but is that still legal..or perhaps the teams could use giant tv screens around the track!!

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