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Radio message investigation raises concern over stewarding

NEWS STORY
10/07/2022

The decision to investigate seven drivers for 'illegal' radio messages ahead of the restart of the Sprint, has led to calls for the sport to revert to having just one race director.

Whilst preparing to hit Sebastian Vettel with a (suspended) €25,000 fine for leaving Friday's drivers' briefing without permission, the Red Bull Ring stewards were also investigating six of his colleagues - Mick Schumacher, Daniel Ricciardo, George Russell, Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll - for yet another heinous crime.

The seven were under investigation for receiving 'illegal' radio communications from their teams ahead of the second formation lap after the original start was aborted when Guanyu Zhou ground to a halt at the final corner.

As they prepared to head off on the second formation lap, all seven received instructions from their teams to use their pit limiters when pulling away.

Unfortunately, this constituted a breach of Article 33.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, which states that "the driver must drive the car alone and unaided".

"The stewards received a report from the Race Director and used audio evidence," read the subsequent statement from the stewards. "The stewards met with the team managers concerned and determined that the messages that were under investigation were permitted".

As a result no further action was taken against the seven.

At the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, both Haas drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, were handed 10s time penalties for similar radio messages during the formation lap... so on this occasion Seb and his colleagues were lucky.

The reason for Vettel's premature departure from Friday's drivers' briefing was that he, like many of his colleagues, is unhappy with the standard of stewarding this season, particularly concerned that there is a lack of consistency in the application of the rules.

Speaking in reaction to the fine handed out to Vettel, Grand Prix Drivers' Association director, George Russell echoed the German's view on the lack of consistency , believing that a large part of the problem has been the decision to split the race director's role between Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas.

Asked if this was part of the problem, Russell was in no doubt. "Yes, I do agree that we need to stick to one race director," he replied. "We need to have a bit more consistency with the stewarding.

"We come to the following event and often the steward in the previous event is not there," he continued. "So there's no accountability, no explanations of decisions.

"We ask questions, and it's difficult to get a straightforward answer because almost all the blame is being put onto somebody else who isn't there," he added. "So it is tricky, everybody's got their own interpretations.

"It is by no means an easy job," he admitted, "but over the course of the year, a number of drivers commented on that. I think when you've got one race director, things can generally be more consistent."

Other than the radio message investigation, and Vettel's fine, the other big stewarding talking point this weekend was the decision to penalise Sergio Perez after qualifying for exceeding the track limits in Q2.

Following last weekend's British Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso questioned the stewards lack of action over several incidents that took place during the Hamilton/Leclerc/Perez battle, the Spaniard particularly concerned at the Ferrari driver's weaving whilst holding off his (faster) rivals.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Spielberg here.

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1. Posted by Superbird70, 10/07/2022 11:49

"Time for a driver's strike."

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2. Posted by prime, 10/07/2022 10:18

"Michael Masi comeback for 2023 confirmed "

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