Williams’ Pat Symonds criticizes ‘negligent’ radio rules

Pat Symonds - Credit: Glenn Dunbar/Williams

Williams Martini Racing’s technical chief Pat Symonds has called the current Formula 1 radio regulations as potentially negligent, especially when teams are unable to inform their drivers if their brakes were failing.

On the back of the penalty handed to Nico Rosberg at the British Grand Prix for receiving information from the pit wall that was above and beyond what was allowed as he encountered a gearbox issue, and the fact that the Sahara Force India team were unable to inform Sergio Perez that their brakes were failing, Symonds has spoken out about how the radio regulations have gone beyond what’s really needed within Formula 1.

“On the pit wall, we know our rules pretty well – and normally when something happens, we know what to do,” said Symonds. “With this, every single race, there’s a debate goes on in the pit lane, ‘oh, we shouldn’t do this, what are we going to do?’

“Poor old Perez in Austria, how ridiculous. You’re going to do tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the car, because you can’t tell a guy his brakes are about to fail? It’s negligent. It’s not just wrong, it’s negligent.

“We debated the very situation Perez found himself in, we said ‘if that’s the case, we’ll tell the driver to stop, we don’t care about a penalty, we’re not going to risk injuring a driver’.”

Whereas Symonds believes that drivers should be coached around a circuit, he believes that the pit wall should be allowed to give guidance to drivers about the systems on board their machines, especially with the current complexity of modern day Formula 1 cars.

“To me, it’s a team sport – we should work together,” said Symonds. “If people really do object to us coaching the drivers, I can live with that. But helping them manage the systems? I really don’t think that’s a big problem. Where do we draw the line?

“It is a team sport, if a driver has to drive the car alone and unaided, should he change his own tyres? Imagine that – pit stop, climb out, change the tyres, back in. Where do you draw the line? And where they’ve drawn the line, in my opinion, is hardly a good place.”