Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows explains how his team deals with the FIA’s restrictions on F1 radio communications, but admits “it’s impossible to make a complete list of what you can say and what you can’t say”.
The governing body implemented the fresh clampdown ahead of the current season in a bid to put more decision-making power back into the drivers’ hands.
The topic was back in the spotlight last weekend in Baku where both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton suffered engine settings problems
Although Mercedes could see what was wrong on their W07s, the two-time Constructors’ champions could not tell their drivers, which left Hamilton fuming after the race.
“For 2016, it’s much more restrictive than previous seasons, certainly on engine modes, gearbox modes, start procedures,” Meadows said in the latest instalment of the Silver Arrows Show on YouTube. “That’s why you’re seeing so much variation at the start and in performance.
“First of all, we need to make sure we don’t blurt something out on the radio to the driver that could get us in trouble.
“If we need to say something that is not within the regulations, we need to speak to Race Control on the pit wall and we’ll make request to [FIA race director] Charlie Whiting.
“Once we realise and understand what the problem is, we need to send him a data sheet of where we are, and speak to various engineers from our side and on the FIA and see what course of action we need to take to fix the problem.”
“We need to show him this is safety-critical or that there is a good chance the car will not finish without these various communications and he’ll make a call.
“[In Baku] we were also speaking to people back in Brixworth and Brackley as well as engineers at the back of the garage and the race engineers, trying to figure out what the issue was between us. Once we understood it, it was trying to communicate that to Lewis.”
Speaking about how Mercedes can prepare to prevent similar problems at future races, Meadows added: “It’s just a better understanding of the regulations and also what you can actually ask because it’s quite subjective at the moment and it’s impossible to make a complete list of what you can say and what you can’t say.
“As you go through the process of the whole weekend and races, the list is updated on a weekly basis. Charlie does not want to hinder. He wants all drivers to finish the race but he does not want us to drive the car for them.”