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F1 Hungarian GP: Radio rules aren’t black and white – Steiner

“It comes down to the pitwall and asking 'Can we say this?' I don't really know if we can say this. We need to define it better..."
Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner has criticised the crackdown on team-to-driver communications during races, saying the line between what can and cannot be said isn't clear enough.

New for the 2016 season, the FIA implemented new restrictions on what is permitted to be communicated in an effort to delegate more responsibility to the driver and limit 'coaching' by the team from the pit wall.

However, though teams initially expected the new rules to make little difference, there is growing pressure on the FIA to clarify what can be relayed and what would land teams in trouble.

It comes after a time penalty of 10secs was levelled at championship leader Nico Rosberg following the British Grand Prix after he was given information that would allow him to manage a gearbox problem on his Mercedes.

target=_blank> READ: Nico Rosberg penalised for radio rule breach

With the ruling being viewed as a precedent for future decisions, some are speculating that teams could risk a penalty if it meant avoiding a DNF. However, Steiner says the rule is too difficult to enforce because the same messages can be communicated in a too many different ways to determine if they are legal or not.

“The biggest difficulty is making a judgment on what is legal and what's not,” he said. “The line is not clear. How you can write a clear line on what you say, if you talk in a code, if somebody suggests what you say was a code and it wasn't.

“It comes down to the pitwall and asking 'Can we say this?' I don't really know if we can say this, but I think you can. It's the uncertainty. We need to define it better, but how easy that is, I wouldn't like to write that rule because how long is a piece of string?

target=_blank> VOTE: Who will win the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix?

“We all just want that for the benefit of the sport, not to do anything wrong. It would not be nice to be penalised 10 seconds and to say 'Actually I didn't do anything', and you cannot put in a protest because you have no leg to stand on. It's not black and white this rule.

With the ruling being introduced after criticism from fans that drivers were using less instinct and receiving too many pointers from the pit wall, though Steiner agrees with the regulation to a point, he feels drivers shouldn't be penalised in situations like Rosberg's.

“Not talking like it was suggested is not good because it takes something away from the fans in my opinion. If the team cannot influence the strategy, and it's just down to the driver, it's not really fair, I would say. It's part of the sport.

“But telling them how to start is also not right. The car becomes a PlayStation car in saying 'you do this, you do this, get to this value…' It's a fine line.

“With Rosberg, he had a problem with the gearbox and they told him not to go in that gear. In the end I could say that could be dangerous going into that gear because all of a sudden you are in neutral and you fly off. That's what I think. The definition of it is difficult, to rule on what is right and what is wrong.”

READ: FIA prepared to penalise for coded radio messages

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July 15, 2016 4:32 PM

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