In the dying laps of a tightly fought British Grand Prix Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes became more than a little sick. It turned out there was a gearbox issue, specifically with 7th gear. While the Stewards agreed that Mercedes were allowed to help Rosberg circumvent the problem as it came under the “critical problem” allowance when a component or system is in danger of failing and creating a dangerous situation. However it was further advice given by his race engineer that caused the problem:
Tony Ross [Rosberg’s race engineer] “Driver default 1-0-1, chassis default 0-1, chassis default 0-1. Avoid seventh gear, Nico, avoid seventh gear.”
Rosberg: “What does that mean, I have to shift through it?
Ross: “Affirm Nico, you need to shift through it. Affirm, you need to shift through it.”
The confirmation of skipping through seventh gear is what has caused the stewards to give Rosberg a 10 second penalty, as it was deemed coaching of the driver – something the new limitations on radio communication have tried to stamp out this season.
The penalty drops Rosberg to 3rd and promotes Max Verstappen, who spent most of his day battling with Rosberg, and the Red Bull to second.
Both Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner have questioned the rule and the need for it – but while he called the rule “rubbish” Horner did say that it had to be adhered to.
Mercedes will lodge an appeal but for now Nico Rosberg’s lead in the Drivers Championship has been slashed even further to a solitary point.