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.”