By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Mercedes have decided to accept a British Grand Prix penalty that leaves Nico Rosberg just one point clear of team mate Lewis Hamilton at the top of the Formula One world championship, the team said on Monday.
The champions had given notice at Silverstone on Sunday that they intended to appeal the 10 second penalty that was imposed after the race and dropped the German from second place to third.
The grand prix was won by triple champion Hamilton, his fourth home victory and third in a row.
The penalty was incurred for a breach of the rules governing what can be said over the radio. Mercedes had advised Rosberg on how to deal with a gearbox problem that had emerged in the closing laps.
“We were able to prove to the Stewards that a car-stopping gearbox failure was imminent and, as such, were permitted within the rules to advise Nico of the required mode change.” Mercedes said.
“However, the advice to avoid seventh gear was considered to breach…article 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations. The team accepts the stewards’ interpretation of the regulation, their decision and the associated penalty.”
Mercedes said they would continue to discuss with Formula One stakeholders “the subject of the perceived over-regulation of the sport.”
Article 27.1 states that “the driver must drive the car alone and unaided”.
That has led to a crackdown on radio communications, with a detailed list of what teams can and cannot say to their drivers during a race, and drawn increasing criticism from the teams.
Red Bull principal Christian Horner said on Sunday the radio rule was ‘rubbish’.
In Austria, the race before Britain, Mexican Sergio Perez crashed his Force India after a brake failure that the team felt unable to tell him about even for safety reasons.
“Poor old Perez in Austria, how ridiculous,” commented Williams’ technical chief Pat Symonds on Sunday.
“You’re going to do tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the car, because you can’t tell a guy his brakes are about to fail? It’s negligent. It’s not just wrong, it’s negligent.
“It is a team sport. If a driver has to drive the car alone and unaided, should he change his own tyres? Imagine that; pitstop, climb out, change the tyres, back in. Where do you draw the line? And where they’ve drawn the line, in my opinion, is hardly a good place.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris/Rex Gowar)