McLaren accuse Red Bull of breaking new radio chat rules

Eric Boullier accuses Red Bull of using coded messages to help Daniel Ricciardo

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The Independent Online

McLaren’s team principal, Eric Boullier, has accused Red Bull of using coded radio messages to help Daniel Ricciardo secure third place in Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix.

A complicated week in the build-up to the race – won by Lewis Hamilton – for the FIA saw them initially issue a list of messages that would be prohibited between the teams and drivers from the race in Singapore onwards.

However, motor sport’s world governing body backtracked on several of the guidelines following complaints from teams.

Communications which could be deemed to coach the driver remained banned; those informing them of performance factors on their cars will be reviewed for 2015. The FIA made it clear, however, that it would be watching for coded messages, and Bouillier is adamant that Red Bull breached that rule in the manner in which it advised Ricciardo how to cope with a battery problem.

“We had no issues with the new radio rules on our side,” the Frenchman said. “It just made us busier listening to others to make sure they made no mistakes, like Red Bull did twice with Ricciardo.

“I think their message was coded, but it is up to the FIA to investigate. It is not up  to me. “It was a strange message. Once was OK, but twice? Three times? You can doubt what the car problem was.”

The Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, responded by admitting the team had had discussions throughout the race with Formula One race director Charlie Whiting, who had been responsible for implementing the rules, in order to clarify what was permissible.

“The problem started relatively early, probably before half distance, when Daniel had basically an issue with the battery that was not discharging,” Horner said.

“If there had been a full radio ban it wouldn’t have made life easier, that’s for sure. We spoke to Charlie and we told him that Daniel had reliability issues and that was why we told him to keep off the kerbs because that was causing damage to the battery. It’s finding the balance with this radio stuff.”

Jenson Button’s future at McLaren appears assured as the team draw ever closer to announcing their driver line-up for next season.

Despite retiring from the race and failing to be classified at the end of a race for the first time in two years, the 34-year-old showed no qualms when asked about his fate for 2015.

Button said: “I’m not worried in any way about that. I’m pretty happy I’ll be here next year and I feel I’m doing a good job right now.”

Hamilton, who took his seventh victory of the season in Singapore as his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg, retired with electrical problems, said nothing would change in the way he would be approaching the remaining five grands prix of a season.

“Momentum is not something that I talk about because it can be snatched away, look at Nico,” he said. “One retirement and it’s snatched away. I’ve had that, too. But I’m happy that I’ve been at my best and I want to make sure  that these five races are as good. They have to be the ones.”