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F1 European GP: Hamilton brands radio comms restrictions ‘dangerous’

Lewis Hamilton - “[It's] Dangerous. I'm just there looking at my steering wheel for a large portion of the lap..."
Lewis Hamilton says the FIA's decision to clampdown on what can be communicated from team to driver during an F1 race is 'dangerous', arguing he spent much of his race more focused on his steering wheel than the track.

The defending champion was in the midst of a fight-back from tenth position on the grid but after working his way up to fifth position following the first pit-stop period, complained of a lack of deployment from his Mercedes.

Later identified as an incorrect configuration setting, though the Mercedes engineers had a fix for it, the new-for-2016 rules that state teams cannot pass on specific car information meant it couldn't communicate the message.

Though Hamilton eventually resolved the problem himself with ten laps of the race remaining – too late for him to make an impression on the pack ahead -, he gave an indication of the complexity he was dealing with whilst at racing speed.

“I didn't know what the problem was so I didn't know if I had done anything to make it not work – the engine. The team started with something switched on, so I had it from the beginning and I disabled something and it didn't change anything and then switched it back on and it didn't change anything.

“In the end I switched it back off again and the engine power came back ten laps after that, but the engineers told me there were nine laps left to go so I just turned the engine down after that.

“On the engine switch there are 16 positions and in those positions there are 20 positions, so I had no idea what the problem was or how to rectify that. I tried a few different things but it didn't help, so I put them back to where they were.”

Frustrated to have spent much of his race dealing with the problem himself due to the radio ban, which was introduced in 2016 to delegate more responsibility to the driver, Hamilton nonetheless feels it is 'dangerous' to have a driver fiddling with settings rather than focusing on racing.

“[It's] Dangerous. I'm just there looking at my steering wheel for a large portion of the lap and all the way down the straights. All they can tell me is there's a switch error or a wrong switch position, so I'm looking at every single switch thinking 'am I being an idiot here or have I done something wrong?', but I hadn't.

“I looked at it time and time again, looking at all the switch positions and there was nothing that looked irregular.”

Nico Rosberg suffered a similar problem with his car, but Mercedes says he was able to solve it himself quicker.

"We had a configuration setting problem, an electronical setting problem but with engine modes, which cured on both cars," said Toto Wolff. "Because by regulations we're not allowed to tell the driver, they needed to figure it out themselves.

"Nico was in the more fortunate situation that he did a switch change just before which kind of led him on the right path."

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by Ollie Barstow



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richard

June 19, 2016 8:02 PM

it was quite funny. the sky pundits have been previously saying that the ban on radio communications was good for the sport, but as soon as lulu had a "frigging" problem, the pundits all started saying it was a stupid rule ! and they kept on about until kimi also radioed for info, and then they began to tone down their criticism ever so slightly. however, i think that the ban is correct. a professional race driver should be able to learn the sequence of button pushing themselves. as taz says, others can cope, so why cant lulu?



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