Rosberg handed time penalty for radio rule breach, drops to 3rd in British GP

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Nico Rosberg has been handed a 10-second time after Mercedes was deemed to have breached the Formula 1 sporting regulations during Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

While running second in the closing stages of the race, Rosberg lost three seconds in a single lap before reporting to his team that he had a gearbox issue.

Mercedes responded by telling him which setting to put his gearbox in, as well as informing him to avoid using seventh gear by shifting through it.

At the beginning of the season, the FIA introduced new radio rules that were supposed to place a greater onus on the drivers to manage their own races, limiting the instructions that can be given.

After the race, the FIA issued a statement calling Rosberg before the stewards over an “alleged breach of Article 27.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, that the driver must drive the car alone and unaided.”

Mercedes has stated that it believes the messages to have been within the regulations, as it would have resulted in a terminal failure for Rosberg.

“It was a very critical problem,” Rosberg said. “I was stuck in seventh gear and about to stop on track.”

When asked if he was confident the messages were within the rules, Rosberg replied: “Yes.”

However, after a lengthy meeting following the race, the FIA stewards deemed Mercedes to have broken the rules, resulting in a 10-second penalty for Rosberg.

As a result, he drops to third place in the final classification behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. His championship lead also now stands at just a single point heading to the next race in Hungary.

“Having considered the matter extensively, the stewards determined that the team gave some instructions to the driver that were specifically permitted under Technical Directive 014-16,” the stewards wrote.

“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.”

UPDATE 13:52 ET – Mercedes states intention to appeal decision

Mercedes has lodged its notice of intention to appeal the decision taken by the stewards, making the result of the British Grand Prix provisional.

By lodging this notice, Mercedes now has more time in which to fully assess and analyze the radio messages, with the stewards’ statement making clear that not all of the calls were in breach of the regulations.

The issue appears to surround the call for Rosberg to shift through seventh gear (the last line of the transcript below).

According to the FIA, a decision on the appeal must be ratified within 96 hours by Mercedes’ national sporting authority – in Mercedes’ case, the ASN of Germany, the Deutscher Motor Sport Bund.

Mercedes-to-Rosberg radio transcript

Rosberg: “Gearbox problem!”

Mercedes: “Chassis default 0, 1.”

Mercedes: “Avoid seventh gear, Nico.”

Rosberg: “What does that mean? I have to shift through it?

Mercedes: “Affirm, Nico, affirm. You have to shift through it.”

Lewis Hamilton takes F1 pole in dramatic Russian GP qualifying

Russian pole Lewis Hamilton
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to equaling the Formula One win record Saturday by clinching pole position at the Russian Grand Prix, after narrowly avoiding early elimination when Sebastian Vettel crashed.

Hamilton charged to a track-record time of 1 minute, 31.304 seconds, beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen by 0.563 for his fifth straight pole position. Hamilton can achieve his 91st career win in the race on Sunday, matching the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten into third by Verstappen’s fast run at the end of the session and was .652 off Hamilton’s time.

The long run from the grid to the first significant turn means Bottas could yet threaten to overtake Hamilton at the start Sunday using the slipstream from his teammate’s car.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole,” Hamilton said.

“This year you’re seeing that our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years. So I generally expect one of (Verstappen and Bottas) to come flying by at some point. I think I’m just going to focus on my race and run the fastest race I can.”

Bottas earned his first win at the 2017 race in Russia after starting third and overtaking the two Ferraris ahead of him at the start.

Verstappen and Bottas both start the race on medium tires, which could give them an edge in terms of pit strategy over Hamilton, who is on soft tires, which wear much faster.

“I’m just going to have to nurse those tires for as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen said he was delighted to start second.

“I wasn’t expecting that and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen,” he said.

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerb on the inside of the 90-degree, right-hand turn four and spun into the wall, before the Ferrari bounced back onto the track. Teammate Charles Leclerc was following closely behind and narrowly missed the wrecked car, driving over its discarded front wing.

“Oh my God, that was very, very close,” Leclerc told his team over the radio. Leclerc qualified 11th and Vettel 15th as Ferrari failed to reach the top-10 shootout with either car for the third time in four races.

Vettel’s crash meant the red flag was waved while Hamilton was trying to set his first valid lap time to make the third session – after his first attempt was earlier ruled out for going off the track.

After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap to make it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

“It was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in the mouth.”

Hamilton was also asked to report to race stewards over another incident in which he went off the track in the first part of qualifying. No further action was taken. It was found Hamilton didn’t gain an advantage because the lap time wasn’t counted.

Hamilton is the runaway championship leader with a 55-point advantage over second-place Bottas and 80 over Verstappen. If he can earn four more pole positions in the last seven races, he would be the first driver to 100 in F1 history.

Earlier in the third and final practice Saturday morning, Hamilton set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 33.279 seconds that was 0.776 better than his Mercedes teammate Bottas, who had been quickest in the first two sessions.