Three hours after the British GP yesterday, it was announced that Nico Rosberg has been demoted from second to third in the classification for the British Grand Prix after the stewards found Mercedes in breach of team radio restrictions.
A gearbox problem in the closing stages of the race saw Rosberg slow before the team informed him to reset a setting via his steering wheel. This was deemed to be in compliance with the regulations, but he was then told to “avoid seventh gear” for the rest of the race.
The stewards deemed the second message to be in breach of Article 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations, which states the driver must drive the car alone and unaided.
The stewards have now issued a ten-second time penalty. This then drops Rosberg behind Max Verstappen in the official classification for the race, who finished 1.339s behind him on the road. The decision was reached after taking into account a technical directive issued by race director Charlie Whiting, which specifically states that drivers must not be given instructions on how to drive the car.
Here’s the conversation between the Mercedes team and Rosberg that has seen Rosberg receive a penalty as follows:-
Rosberg: “Gearbox problem!”
Mercedes: “Affirm. Chassis default zero one”
Mercedes: “Avoid seventh gear, Nico”.
Rosberg: “Well what does that mean? I have to shift through it?”
Mercedes: “Affirm, Nico, Affirm. You have to shift through it.”
In a statement to the media, the stewards confirmed the decision as follows:-
‘Having considered the matter extensively, the stewards determined that the team have some instructions to the driver that were specifically permitted under technical directive 014-16.
‘However, the stewards determined that the team then went further and gave instructions to the driver that were not permitted under the technical directive, and were in breach of Article 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations, that the driver must drive the car alone and unaided.’
Rosberg is the first driver to penalised under the team radio restrictions introduced at the start of this year. The loss of one position closes his lead in the standings over teammate Lewis Hamilton to just one point.
And the saga is not over yet, the Mercedes team has lodged its intention to appeal the stewards’ decision regarding Rosberg. With the second comment was deemed to be in breach of the regulations, but by appealing the stewards’ decision the ten-second penalty, and its impact on the classification, could still change.
By declaring its intention to appeal within an hour of the decision, Mercedes opened up a 96 hour window in which it will decide whether to follow through with the appeal via its national sporting authority — the Deutscher Motor Sport Bund. If Mercedes goes through with the appeal, it will then be ratified with the Secretary General of the FIA courts before a hearing date is announced.
Here are the revised Championship standings after the British GP:-
Nico Rosberg still leads the Driver’s Championship with 168 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 167 points, Kimi Raikkonen is in third place with 106 points, Daniel Ricciardo is in fourth place with 100 points, Sebastian Vettel is in fifth place with 98 points, Max Verstappen is in sixth place with 90 points, Valtteri Bottas is in seventh place with 54 points, Sergio Perez is in eighth place with 47 points, Felipe Massa is in ninth place with 38 points and Romain Grosjean is in tenth place with 28 points.
Mercedes still lead the Constructors Championship with 335 points, Ferrari is in second place with 204 points, Red Bull is in third place with 198 points, Williams is in fourth place with 92 points, Force India is in fifth place with 73 points, Toro Rosso is in sixth place with 41 points, McLaren is in seventh place with 32 points, Haas is in eighth place with 28 points, Renault is in ninth place with 6 points and Manor are tenth with 1 point.