F1: Mercedes Want a Re-think on Radio Ban
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Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff has called for a re-think on the radio communications ban that robbed Lewis Hamilton of a chance to fight for a podium finish in Sunday’s European Grand Prix.
His Mercedes team-mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg won the race, but both drivers had problems with incorrect engine settings.
Starting from pole, Rosberg was able to fix his issue relatively swiftly, but Hamilton struggled for 12 laps.
“I think we want to see drivers racing each other,” he said. “The cars are very complicated and obviously very sophisticated technology-wise. I think we need to look at the rules.
“It's not that I'm complaining. It’s the same for everybody and I think the Ferrari had the same issue.
“You can do two things. You can either make the technology much less complicated – and I don't think this is the right direction -- or maybe adjust the regulation so you are able to communicate more with the driver in case of a problem, but it is how it is.”
Making the most of Hamilton’s problems – he started 10th after an error-strewn qualifying session – Rosberg cruised to his fifth win of the season and 19th of his career.
After finishing fifth, the defending three-time world champion is now 24 points behind Rosberg in the title race.
Asked how it felt in the car during those 12 laps, he said: “Dangerous . I am just looking at my steering wheel for a large portion of the lap - all the way down the straight just looking at my wheel.
“All they can tell me is there is a switch error, wrong switch position, so I am looking at every single switch thinking, am I being an idiot here? Have I done something wrong? And I hadn't.”
Mercedes explained later that the problem was caused by ‘de-rating’, which happens when there is a lower than maximum electrical deployment from the hybrid part of the power unit.
"The settings were wrong because we had a messy Friday and couldn't configure it in the way we should have done," Wolff added.
"So it was pre-set in the wrong way and it happened a little bit earlier on Lewis's car. I think it was three laps earlier."
Hamilton spent much of the race trying to resolve his problem with his engineer telling him repeatedly that he could not give advice.
“Nico was in a more fortunate situation in that he did a switch change just before, which kind of led him on the right path,” said Wolff.
He said the problems cost Hamilton at least two-tenths of a second per lap.
“It was just one switch change, but you need to find that out -- and you are at 350kph in the car, playing around with the steering wheel it's a complex matter.
“I don't think it's down to homework."
Hamilton was left hoping for the best.
“They said it will work itself out and it did with eight laps to go,” he said.
Rosberg said: “It wasn’t easy because of the clampdown on radio communication, so they couldn’t tell us specifically what it was.
“I felt the issue out on track, with the engine down on power, so I looked at my steering wheel and figured 'it must be that one, so take it off' and it worked!
“They said it was a problem with the mode, but which mode? There are so many I thought about it and figured that that was the one.”