Cracked Fibre Optic Cable caused Mercedes Radio Meltdown in Hungary


Both Mercedes had radio issues during the Hungarian Grand Prix - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

A cracked fibre optic cable was the cause behind the pit wall issues that befell the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team during the Hungarian Grand Prix, which left drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton with limited radio usage.

For parts of the race at Hungaroring radio communications between team and drivers was lost, while a number of laps were run without any data being transmitted as the German team sought to repair the issue.

Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Toto Wolff, felt the issue compromised the team heavily, with Bottas and Hamilton finishing third and fourth behind the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers.

“It was a local hardware issue,” admitted Wolff. “We found a crack in a fibre optic cable, that made us fly blind.

“Our whole comms and data systems broke down .We didn’t have any communications on the ‘Fantasy Island’ – that is the middle thing we have – and on the pit wall.

“So no radio comms, no data, no TV feed. We somehow managed to get it back occasionally – and that obviously penalised us strongly. So there were conversations at times that Lewis heard and then there were conversations he didn’t hear. A difficult one.”

The failure caused a number of team members still at the team’s bases in Brackley and Brixworth to aid them in keeping those at trackside as up-to-date as possible, with Hungary-based Mercedes strategist James Vowles receiving a lot of feedback from a number of engineers back in the United Kingdom.

“It was an incredible team play,” said Wolff. “We had lots of people in Brackley and in Brixworth who were our redundancy systems, feeding us massive amounts of information over to us on the radio.

“At times there were six or seven different people speaking to James and we were trying to make the right decisions. That was a really great team effort.”