Jenson Button, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2016

Button calls for common sense after ‘stupid’ radio penalty

2016 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Jenson Button says that common sense should prevail after he received a drive-through penalty for receiving an illegal radio instruction during the Hungarian Grand Prix.

After alerting his team that his brake pedal was “going to the floor”, McLaren advised him that his car had a hydraulic issue and instructed him not to shift gears.

This was immediately investigated by stewards for being a breach of radio communication restrictions, who awarded him a drive-through penalty soon after.

“I was told it was a sensor failure and so I was told to change something on the steering wheel that would mean it wouldn’t happen again,” explains Button. “So by avoiding an accident, I got a penalty.

“We had a safety issue. The brake pedal kept going – it was on the floor. So basically I had some brakes, but nowhere near as much braking. For me, it’s a safety concern. And for rectifying a safety concern we get a drive through penalty. The sport is good in so many ways and there are so many improvements coming, but common sense should prevail and we shouldn’t get a penalty for avoiding an incident.”

The incident follows a controversial post-race penalty awarded to Nico Rosberg after the British Grand Prix, who only received a ten-second time penalty as opposed to a drive-through equivalent.

Button says he supports the concept of radio restrictions, but believes the current rules should provide greater scope for drivers to receive information about matters of safety.

“It’s a shame that the sport is where it is with these regulations,” says Button.

“I completely understand that a driver shouldn’t be told what to do. It should be down to us – looking after the tyres, what gear we use in every corner. I love that it’s down to us. But it’s stupid that we have a rule that says we get a penalty for stopping an incident like we did today. ”

2016 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 66 comments on “Button calls for common sense after ‘stupid’ radio penalty”

    1. totally agree with you Jensen

        1. me too, safety should rule. But maybe McLaren should work on an onboard diagnostic system.

      1. sunny stivala
        24th July 2016, 20:15

        how can anybody agree with Jensen? the rules are clear, the team should have called him in where they would have been able to fix his problem without penalty, rules are rules and unless followed the result is a penalty.

        1. Exactly. The rule states you have to pit, which they DID. They pitted the car, and still got a penalty straight after.

          1. That’s not correct. The rules say he must put immediately. In fact, they told him “stay out.” If he was really afraid for his life he would have pulled off. If the team thought it was a safety issue, why did they say to stay out?

            His penalty was for not pitting immediately as the rules explicitly require.

          2. sunny stivala
            25th July 2016, 11:16

            the penalty they got was for breaking radio rules on track.

            1. Pitting immediately is part of the radio rules.


      1. (On a serious note) +1000

    3. We’ve needed common sense since Perez ended up in the wall from brake failure in Austria. I said it then, it’s absolutely irresponsible of the FIA to deny safety calls.

      The only thing the public ever wanted to see change was drivers being told how to improve their lap times.

      1. The FIA is not denying safety calls. The rule is actually very smart Bc it requires them to self police what is safety and what is not. If it’s a real safety issue, the team will say something Bc the alternative is an accident, which (even if you think the driver is only an ends to winning a race) gets no points and is bad for the team.

        Tell him and at worst he comes into the pits. If there’s a serious issue, the choice should be a no-brainier. Why they told Jensen to continue without brakes or why he would chose to listen to them is beyond me but I suspect they felt they would rather take the risk of his safety versus losing a bit of time while they could sort out the problem and get tires ready for him.

        But this is contrary to the rules. They told him to not change gears, which begins the coaching, then they told him not to pit, which is where he went against the rules.

        1. “The FIA is not denying safety calls.”

          I think you’ll find they denied Force India the opportunity to tell Perez of his impending brake failure, as stated by Bob Fernley on Autosport days after the race.

          1. sunny stivala
            25th July 2016, 19:38

            they should have told Perez to pit the car, that would have been within the rules and show how responsible they are.

            1. They did actually retire the other car, i guess with Perez they thought they could make it given it happened a couple of corners from the end of the race, but if they could give him a message he could have at least made a change to the bias to take pressure off the front brakes.

    4. Common sense? Rules and their application has never had much common sense of late. The word common is interesting as well as there is very little consistency and when the stewards or the FIA are seen to have used a rule inconsistently they change the rule under the guise of “clarity” which means that it unfairly disadvantaged the driver who had the rule applied incorrectly to him. This is why some fans say that rules favour Rosberg in the past for example. I differ in that opinion. The FIA don’t favour particulat drivers but rather fall into their own trap of having loopholes. Get a proper legal advisor who understands the intricacies of F1 to develop the rules. Ask for the opinion of the drivers and then, have a standard board of stewards at the beginning of the season who agree on the application of the rules. Else it all looks like a farce.

    5. I completely agree. I hope all these stewards get sacked for their incompetence. They are clearly brainless, as if they had brain they wouldn’t be giving out pathetic penalties.

      1. *brains

        1. @ultimateuzair actually one for them all would be a good start.

          Amazed by the lack of consistence, Button incident was purely on the safety concern while Rosberg was more performance related yet the penalty’s severity is the other way around.

          I wonder what would have happened if McLaren had instructed Button what to do, told him to go to the pit, change his wheels and let him go back to the race. Apparently there was some laps in between, I thought at first that was what they had done. Did they try to tell him the correction and come to the pit, then directly after ‘finally Jenson, you can stay out’ ? Which would also stuck by the rules as they should give an instruction to come into the pit but nothing says in the rule that you can’t change your mind after or that the driver should effectively come by the pit ? Or does it ? I get confused with all those rules…

          1. In addition he was already last when he finally solved his problem.

    6. Completely agree with JB. These rules are becoming a mess….tires, track limits, penalties, radio restrictions…just a big mess!

      1. I don’t see the walls of the kremlin crumbling … yet

        I just have to ask why do people think Rule(r)s will solve problems? Some rules governing safety, are necessary, like slowing down during double waved yellow flags. Some rules are nice to have, such as not having to listen to Nico’s race engineer coach him on how to attack corners. Other rules are completely unnecessary, things like the proposed Halo, lower noses, which only really detract from the sport, make overtaking more difficult, etc… Some rules are very harmful to the competition, like forcing people to buy expensive kit that guarantees them never finishing on the podium.

        Why do people appreciate having risk dumped on them with very little hope for a return on investment? What is F1 really about ?

    7. Zantkiller (@)
      24th July 2016, 16:07

      Get rid of team-to-driver radio and leave it to Charlie to inform of penalties/safety cars/etc or get rid of the radio ban and just don’t broadcast messages some fans don’t like.

      Really simple. We shouldn’t be discussing whether someone said the right of wrong thing on the radio.

    8. How to turn a perfectly good idea, a ban on coaching drivers, into a discredited ‘jobsworth’ regulation that itself poses a danger with drivers potentially dissuaded from reporting a serious mechanical issue. Button was entirely correct to report a brake issue. So what’s the team supposed to do if they think he’s still OK to drive, not answer? Not provide a solution and reduce the danger to Button or other drivers? Completely absurd.

      At the same time they set a precedent with Rosberg’s lack of penalty in qualifying that was precisely the kind of ‘minimalist’ treatment of slow down rules that led to Bianchi’s tragic accident.

      1. “At the same time they set a precedent with Rosberg’s lack of penalty in qualifying ”

        That precedent was set a long time ago, Rosberg in qualifying yesterday was nowhere near been the 1st driver do what he did & receive no penalty. It was no different really to Hulkenberg during qualifying in Austria & what Mika Hakkinen regularly used to do with yellow flags way back in the 90’s (Mika just used to raise his arm to acknowledge that he had seen them & often didn’t even lift off).

        1. A lot of people have falsely used this narrative to justify Nico’s blatant disregard of rules. In Austria, Hulkenberg’s case under a normal yellow not double as was the case for Nico. For double, you are required to be ready to stop not set purple sectors.
          I do find Button’s punishment today very unjust considering that Nico Rosberg was let off on a similar incident 2 weeks ago.

    9. Sorry, this is the FIA you are talking about. Common sense is strictly forbidden!

      1. Uddipta Jana
        24th July 2016, 22:42

        You nailed it

    10. I’ve said it several times before this year & i’ll say it as many more times as I need to…. These new for 2016 radio restrictions are absurd & need to be gotten rid of.

      Banning the coaching we saw up until Monza 2014 with drivers been told to brake a bit later, use a different gear, different line or use more/less throttle sooner/later is fine but I don’t see any reason to ban anything else, Especially in situations where its a safety issue.

    11. Jonathan Parkin
      24th July 2016, 16:37

      And while we are at it let’s discuss track limits for a minute. If you want drivers to respect them bring back normal grass, gravel traps and don’t add-on bits to kerbs that allow the whole car to leave the track

    12. It’s funny how they all say the rules are fine when other drivers have issues during a race and can’t be helped by their team. It’s laughed away with jokes how the affected driver should have studied the manual better and that they can cope just fine without any help. Until a problem occurs with their own car during the race. Then all of a sudden the rules are ridiculous and must be changed.

      1. Yes, I find it weird. A lot ridiculed Hamilton in Baku saying he should have read the manual and should stop partying around. Yet we saw Nico whom they call an Engineer that spends hours poring over manuals and data not needing on coaching on something as mundane as avoiding a damaged gear. But we are told he is a professor and an engineer to boot.
        In Button’s case, I am surprised to hear him speak of it now because he has been affected. Hamilton is currently calling for clarification of yellow flag rules but no one is joining him. Wait until they are affected.

        1. * poring over manuals and data in need of coaching on

        2. Daniel Ricciardo very much agreed with Hamilton in the press conference.

      2. “…It’s laughed away with jokes how the affected driver should have studied the manual better and that they can cope just fine without any help. Until a problem occurs with their own car during the race. Then all of a sudden the rules are ridiculous and must be changed…”

        You know what I find ridiculous? The fact that you see no difference between Button having NO BRAKES and Hamilton not being in the right engine mode in Baku! Honestly, ridiculous comments like yours are as stupid as the radio regulations themselves!

        But stupidly ridiculous comments aside, I think the radio ban is utterly moronic! I agree completely that drivers should not be ‘coached’, telling them where to brake, what gear to use in a corner, how fast their team mates are going through certain corners etc. etc. but not being able to communicate technical information to the drivers about the very advanced pieces of machinery that they are throwing around the track at 300kmh+ is beyond idiotic! Not letting teams communicate safety information to a driver is down right dangerous!

        You really wonder sometimes, exactly what it is the FIA and F1 officials are trying to achieve? From the outside, it appears that it is the total destruction of this sport!

        Incompetent, bumbling fools!

        1. – You know what I find ridiculous? The fact that you see no difference between Button having NO BRAKES and Hamilton not being in the right engine mode in Baku!

          Dude, both men experienced cases that require help but were not told. You cannot pick and choose which one is more desperate or the other being that ultimately it affected the performance of the drivers. A setting on the steering could lead to a serious safety issue as well. I think you are the person that is wrong claiming which is right and which is which.

          Anyway, you contradicted your earlier claim which I quoted above with this statement.
          – not being able to communicate technical information to the drivers about the very advanced pieces of machinery that they are throwing around the track at 300kmh+ is beyond idiotic!

        2. – You know what I find ridiculous? The fact that you see no difference between Button having NO BRAKES and Hamilton not being in the right engine mode in Baku!

          Dude, both men experienced cases that require help but were not told. You cannot pick and choose which one is more desperate or the other being that ultimately it affected the performance of the drivers. A setting on the steering could lead to a serious safety issue as well. I think you are the person that is wrong claiming which is right and which is which.

          Anyway, you contradicted your earlier claim which I quoted above with this statement.
          – not being able to communicate technical information to the drivers about the very advanced pieces of machinery that they are throwing around the track at 300kmh+ is beyond …..!

    13. Hmm i do remember his team saying that they had a hydrolic problem and he should not shift. Some how jensen forgot that part.

      1. His argument would probably be that the two issues were, quite literally, interconnected given that the hydraulics systems for the brakes and gearbox are connected together. Therefore, although there might have been two separate issues – the braking system and the gearbox issue – those issues ultimately stemmed from a common fault with the hydraulics system.

        Therefore, he would probably argue that an instruction not to shift gear could also be construed as a safety warning given that, as the team were unsure at the time what the issue was, they might have thought that shifting gear could have caused further damage to the hydraulics system and resulted in Button losing all braking performance.

        1. Well only the team and FIA knows. Given the penalty we know how they think about it.

    14. Duncan Snowden
      24th July 2016, 17:29

      Quote of the weekend: “So the brake pedal going to the floor isn’t classed as a safety issue. That’s, er… quite interesting”. (It’s also interesting that someone at FOM saw fit to play it over the world feed, I thought.)

      I’ve completely changed my mind on this. Let ’em talk. Up till now I accepted the need to limit radio messaging because of driver coaching, but found the rules too complicated. However I’m beginning to feel that it’s a bit like traction control a few years ago: it’s so hard to police fairly that it’s just not worth the bother. We just have another set of over-complicated rules that, ultimately, detract from the racing.

      As DC said on Channel 4, no amount of coaching is going to make a journeyman driver into a great one. Let’s forget the whole thing. If that means we have a few drivers being told to brake deeper into turn 6 or whatever, then so be it. It was hardly the biggest problem F1 had in the first place, was it?

      1. Fully agree but F1 is determined to ruin itself. Good luck FIA as more people turn away.

        1. …….from the above comments we realise F1 has one really serious and continually recurring problem where the rules of F1 are concerned.

          The FIA does it’s feeble best to give the impression that at every race in the calender the stewards are guaranteed to give identical judgements on every transgression or mistake by a driver or team.
          And that there is no discretionary difference between decisions made at different races.

          But the brutal truth is that there are colossal differences in the scale, extent and duration of
          any punishment on any racing day at any track and in whatever conditions apply. There is
          a massive and growing lack of any consistency from race to race, team to team, track to track.

          And while these appalling discrepancies are unaddressed and uncorrected there will continue
          to be decisions made which have the potential to wreck any driver and team’s season. In any
          other circumstances, in any other sport, these massive failures to address a fundamental
          crisis would be dealt with in the harshest possible manner. But F1 simply does not have a ruling
          body which actually rules and makes serious decisions which are applied and which cannot be
          corrupted or ignored. Mssr Todt, if you are not prepared to do your job, you should resign. immediately.

          We need a strong leader in FIA who does not sell off his vital powers in order to pursue a
          pet obsession which had about as much to do with the motor racing as a childs fireworks rocket
          has to do with interplanetary travel.

    15. I think the penalty was outrageous. Even if it was not a safety problem, Jenson lost several places (so he did not gain advantage from radio couching) and in top of that he had to serve a drive through penalty. Jesus Christ, what did they want? Kill his race at lap 4? Remove a driver from the midfield battles at the very beginning? How JB fans and F1 fans can stand that?

      I love to listen radio communications, and somehow there must be a way to promote them. Something like: remove sensors communications to the pitbox, except the critical ones that should be coached, and leave drivers speak freely about the problems they see or feel in the car, and leave pitbox speak freely trying to figure out what is going on with the car.

    16. Don’t worry Jenson. As per another complaint of the F1 fans, there are indestructible tyres coming next year that drivers like you won’t be able to even warm up. Good times have just begun.

      1. Thanks for this comment.
        Fans are now crying after seeing the FIA grant them what they were asking for. I think in their determination to limit whatever advantage they perceive one or two drivers are gaining, they complain very loudly and I think somehow, they expect the FIA to come up with rules that will punish only those drivers they don’t like. They forget that rules are for every one on the grid.
        They have spoken so much about tyres that rock solid tyres are coming next year. Imagine Mercedes on those tyres and Lewis’ ability to make even the softest of them to last forever.
        Fans and especially the very vocal few who hate certain drivers never learn.
        Lewis is currently asking for yellow flag clarification but instead of fans and drivers alike to get behind him, they are ridiculing his attempt. Until it happens to their preferred drivers.

        1. The FIA do not listen to fans. They brought in the stupid qualifying when every said it was crap. We tried it and it was rubbish. Everyone wanted rid of it, but the ‘listening’ FIA ignored everyone and pushed on regardless. These muppets do whatever THEY like. Everyone agreed that rules should not be changed mid season, but here we have new rules every week.

          Please stop saying these clowns listen. If you guys want them to listen to you, stop buying in. Withhold your cash and subs. Then suddenly you’ll hear the announcement ‘The fans have spoken and we have listened..’. Until then it is more of the same.

    17. I actually fully agree with the rules. Jenson was punished for getting instruction on not to change gears, which had nothing with the safety issue to do – IMO.
      The prevention of driver coaching is important for the show and important for the very best drivers to be able to outperform the less capable drivers. But the most important consequence is that when the driver can’t get coaching, he will need to take responsibility, ask the engineers questions and demand a more user friendly and intuitively understandable car, also when an issue occurs. This will in turn help the teams develop HMI’s in the racecars, which is better and some of these ideas and developments can trickle down to consumer cars.

      1. Cannot agree. How was The Show ruined by the radio discussion of a technical fault? Indeed it was the opposite. It was good television to see this minor drama unfold. And how exactly should this come down to a UX or driver skill issue to know if a brake failure is down to hydraulics or say a broken rotor? The very idea that drivers should just RTFM instead is strange. Nowadays, you need specialized equipment and training to detect the code for a misfire on your basic road car and further training to know the cause much less how to address it. At the end of the day, you cannot draw a line between driver coaching and advice on a technical fault. It’s apples and oranges. And in the latter case it is actually good for the show, both because it adds to the story and because it keeps cars on the track.

        1. +1 million.

      2. You are wrong on that @palle. There was a hydrolic fault on the car. The hydrolic system governs (among other things) the gearbox and the brakes. A terminal fault of that system means not brake at all. That’s why the team instructed Button not to shift: to ensure he doesn’t lose the brakes completly. This is a real safety issue.

        1. If the situation was dangerous he should have been advised to pull off the track.

      3. In 10 years time….

        In the old days the driver used to have to steer the car, this was so dangerous. Glad this doesnt happen any more, because its so much safer now.

        The cars have changed with technology, the teams made the cars more complex to gain advantages over other teams. If the drivers want to compete then they need to get used to it. Im sure there are loads of young drivers who would be only too happy to step into their seats.

        Drivers are just to used to not having cars break down. Frankly i miss the old days when cars were pushed to the limit and suddenly an engine would go POOF. I preferred it to having cars follow one another aimlessly and not being able to pass cars which are clearly slower for the entire race.

    18. Regardless of what my thoughts are on the radio rule, what really baffles me is how penalties are handed out.

      One driver violates the radio rule and is given a 10 second penalty; another driver violates the radio rule and is given a drive through penalty.

      How do they decide on who gets what?

      Just doesn’t make sense anymore!

      1. Interesting point.

      2. Keke’s penalty was decided after the race.
        It’s impossible to give a drive through penalty after the race is complete.
        They certainly could give a penalty equal to the average time a drive through takes.

    19. I can only agree with jenson. That is so sad. 38 years I have been watching every race of F1 and this is going in the wrong direction.

      1. Interestingly, drivers through team orders can be told to drive slower and let another driver pass, but not how to enhance their performance and drive faster.
        I did support the radio ban at first, but I am not so sure anymore.

    20. Not telling the drivers when their brakes will fail is not a safety issue, it is good for the show – Bernie Ecclestone (probably)

    21. If I was into that McLaren, at that point I would have ignored the penalty and kept telling on the radio it was a safety precaution. Being disqualified (with not much to lose) would have just helped raise concern about this nonsense

    22. Maybe they should have an FIA operator to make the radio calls between the team and the driver.

    23. If I were Jenson, I would continue to communicate with the team, like “Hey, everyone, how’s your day” and talk non-stop. The car would eventually retire, anyway, as the problem wasn’t solved. So, a “little” trolling would make the race much more interesting.


    24. I’d like to know you’re view of this @keithcollantine.
      Do you still think F1 needs the “improvements” the FIA have brought to the 2014 radio coaching ban?

    25. If brakes are a safety issue, then the pit should have advised him to pull over.

      Driving around trying to fix your brakes in my opinion is not a safety issue, especially if its still safe for you to return to the pits or driving around playing with things in the car while you talk on the radio.

      If a driver drives hard and wears his brakes out, that then becomes a saftey issue. In my opinion that is driver error.
      To me it would be classed in a similar situation to if a team decides to drive an excessively long stint on tyres, sure that is dangerous too…. however, the team and the driver take the risks in doing so.

      Drivers are paid to assess situations and take risks.
      As stated i believe if the pit wall thought there was a saftey issue, Button should have been advised to immediately pull off the track.

    26. Jenson said “Fantastic this is going to be a race from hell” Not at all surprising as he is in the car from hell

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