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.”