McLaren principal says Red Bull used coded messages in Singapore GP

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After the Italian Grand Prix, the FIA announced a clampdown on various forms of communication between drivers and their teams on race weekends – only to relax some of those restrictions going into last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

The new list of banned instructions released on Friday still had any form of driver coaching forbidden, though.

And now, one day after Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo picked up a podium finish behind winner Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, news has broken of McLaren team principal Eric Boullier saying that Red Bull used coded messages to help the Australian in Sunday’s race.

Ricciardo had to battle battery issues with his Renault-powered RB10 while trying to fend off Fernando Alonso late for third place.

As that went on, Red Bull reportedly told Ricciardo that “avoiding the exit curbs” may help him cope with the problem.

“We had no issues [with the new radio rules] on our side,” Boullier was quoted saying by Britain’s Press Association. “It just made us more busy listening to others to make sure they made no mistakes, like Red Bull twice with Ricciardo.”

“I think it was coded, but it is up to the FIA to investigate. It is not for me to investigate. But it was a strange message. Once was okay, but twice, three times? You can doubt what exactly the car problem was.”

However, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said that the message in question was deemed acceptable by FIA race director Charlie Whiting during the race.

‘We spoke to Charlie,” Horner said. “We told him [Ricciardo’s] got some reliability issues and that was why he was told to keep off the curbs, because that was causing damage to the battery for instance.

“It’s finding that balance with this radio stuff.”

Horner also expressed his support for the radio ban on driver coaching.

“It’s not the engineer’s job to tell their driver to brake 10 meters later or turn in a little bit earlier but managing the actual power unit…They’re so complicated,” he added. “From a reliability and safety point of view, that’s so important.”

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.