Christian Horner says Mercedes and Nico Rosberg are right to be punished by the FIA for their radio communication transgression during the British Grand, even if he says he finds the regulation itself to be 'rubbish'.
A gearbox problem for Rosberg in the closing stages of the Silverstone race would force Mercedes to relay information over the radio to its driver so as to contain it and avoid a DNF. With Rosberg going on to finish the race in second place, an investigation by the stewards would result in a 10secs time penalty being applied, dropping him to third.
The first time a penalty has been enforced by the stewards for breaching the controversial rule, which came into force at the start of the season, though Mercedes has argued it didn't do anything wrong – and is thus appealing Rosberg's penalty -, Red Bull team principal Horner has less sympathy despite his own misgivings of the regulation.
“First of all, I think the rule is rubbish,” he said speaking before the penalty was handed down. “It doesn't make a great deal of sense, but the rules are the rules and on two counts, it sounds like instructions were given that breached that protocol. One was the switch change that was made and then the second was on how to drive the car with the seventh gear issue that they had.
“The cars are technically very complex and you can understand why Mercedes would want to give that message to keep their driver running. Now it is a team sport at the end of the day and the cars are a lot more complicated than they were even four years ago for the drivers to be able to work out what they should and shouldn't be doing.”
Crucially, the ruling potentially sets a precedent for future offences, with some teams potentially considering a time penalty worth risking if it means a driver can avoid a DNF.
“What will be interesting to see is the precedent that the stewards now come up with because if it is just a 5-sec penalty or a reprimand, it is all fair game for the rest of the year and there will be loads of messages, where we will take into account, whether or not it is worth 5 seconds or not, or a reprimand given to the car.
“I think what will be interesting to see is the precedent that is set by Charlie and the stewards because they made it very clear, explicitly clear, going into this weekend what their expectations were.”
Red Bull was a big beneficiary of Rosberg's penalty, with Max Verstappen being elevated to second place.