That is the tenth round of the championship over. It saw Lewis Hamilton cut Nico Rosberg‘s lead to just one point. It originally had been a four points difference between the Mercedes pair. However, the German got given a ten-second time penalty after the race. This was for receiving a radio message that was deemed to not be allowed in the regulations. This is the third consecutive race that an issue has arisen about the radio restrictions imposed on drivers and teams. It begs to ask the question are the Formula One Radio Restrictions harming the sport.
Formula One Radio Restrictions Harming Sport
At Silverstone, Rosberg’s engineer informed him of a gearbox issue. Under the restrictions, that information is allowed. The second part of the message, which was how to handle the issue, is not allowed and hence the penalty.
Radio restrictions are in place as FIA feel the drivers have too much coaching on how to drive the car. Over time though, it does seem to be having a negative affect on the sport. In an age where the cars are more complex to drive, restricting communication on how a driver can fix an internal issue is seeing them spending more time on troubleshooting the problem than actually race.
In Baku, Hamilton and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen had just this issue. It spoiled the spectacle for the fans as neither driver were able to implement their true ability on the track.
Not only is a driver’s race suffering a compromise. There is a safety factor. In Austria, Force India’s Sergio Perez had a big crash on the final lap. The cause was brake failure. It transpired that his team knew of the situation, but couldn’t inform him due to the radio restrictions.
It also has to be a frustrating factor for the team and engineers as well. The lack of communication during a race is the equivalent of a football manager not been able to give instructions to his players during a match. Such a scenario would be crazy and illogical in football. It is a team sport. The same applies for Formula One. It is a team sport. The drivers and teams needs to be able to preform to the best of their ability.
The radio restrictions isn’t just an issue for the drivers and teams. It also takes away from the entertainment of the viewing public. Like the antics of a football manager can add entertainment during a match, so can radio messages to Formula One. Raikkonen’s race win in Abu Dhabi brought much amusement to the fans with the interaction with his engineer. Communication like that is not allowed at the moment. Another factor is radio messages was helping the fans have a better understanding of the sport.
So the radio restrictions are currently not working it seems. What needs to change? The easiest solution is to take away all the restrictions. Let there be a free flow of communication between the driver and the pit wall. If this fails to happen, then the rule needs to change to suit the principles of the sport. If not for the racing and entertainment factor, then, as Perez shown in Austria, for the safety factor.
One final note is that Rosberg has lost three championship points due to his penalty imposed on him at Silverstone. With a close title battle this season, how significant could this be in the final standings?
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