Mercedes boss supports easing driver radio clampdown
By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has backed Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton in calling for engineers to be allowed to give drivers more guidance on technical matters during a race.
"I think we want to see drivers racing each other and today’s cars are very complicated because they are so very sophisticated technology-wise," the Austrian told reporters after Sunday's European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan.
"I think we need to look at the rules," he added.
"You can do two things: make the technology much less complicated, (and) I don’t think this is the right direction, or maybe adjust the regulations so you can communicate more with the drivers in case it is a problem."
Triple world champion Hamilton said on Sunday he had been put in a dangerous situation in Baku by a clampdown put in place at the start of the season.
The measures were introduced to reduce so-called 'driver aids' and put more responsibility in the hands of drivers, with a detailed list of what teams can and cannot say.
The Briton's car had an engine setting problem that engineers were powerless to advise on.
While team mate, race winner and championship leader Nico Rosberg had a similar problem, he managed to fix the setting because he had made a change earlier and simply reversed what he had done.
Hamilton's was pre-set and he did not know where to look, forcing him to take his eyes off the road as he hit speeds in excess of 350kph. He finished fifth.
"It was a bit like asking them to solve a crossword puzzle with minimal clues while driving at in excess of 200mph," said Mercedes technical head Paddy Lowe.
Hamilton had argued on Sunday that the clampdown on radio use was supposed to stop drivers being coached, rather than resolve complex technical issues that could affect safety. He said the race would also have been more exciting.
"Today would have added to the spectacle if I had full power because I would have been more in the race fighting with the guys up ahead... maybe the rule needs to be looked at again because it is a technical issue," he said.
Fernando Alonso, Hamilton's former McLaren team mate also criticised the radio ban when it came in.
"They give us a spaceship to drive, with the technology we have, and now we have no information available," said the Spaniard.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)