Charlie Whiting accused of negligence



Since the British GP, a huge amount of the F1 press has been consumed by comment and opinion on the Charlie Whiting led radio ban. TJ13 has lent its weight to the overwhelming view that as they stand the current rule is born from stupidity.

Christian Horner is not one to mince his words and described Whiting’s dictact on the matter as “rubbish”.

Now Williams F1 technical director, Pat Symonds, has weighed into the debate, charging Whiting and FIA with being ‘negligent’.

The nature of the pit wall has fundamentally changed since Whiting’s intervention on radio Symonds reveals. Races are dominated by debates about what is and isn’t allowed.

“Poor old Perez in Austria, how ridiculous,” observes Symonds. “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.”

Williams have discussed the very scenario Force India found themselves in with Sergio Perez in Austria and have decided they will ignore Whiting’s regulation whatever the penalty because risking driver injury is not something they will countenance.

It could be perceived Charlie Whiting is once again on the wrong end of a conflict of interest. He is the FIA’s F1 safety officer, yet his role as interpreter of regulatory matters has led to the technical directives on radio conversations – now seen as anti-safety.

Yet it is different conflict of interest Whiting is in. His relationship with Bernie Ecclestone is driving the current radio regulations, because unreliable F1 cars spice up the show.

This very same relationship weighed on decisions Whiting made in Suzuka 2014, the events of which led to the death of Jules Bianchi.

Symonds has upped the anti with the charge of negligence over the radio ban, and the pressure is rising on Whiting to concede once again – as he was forced to do over the ridiculous qualifying format introduced earlier this year.

How many U-Turns must Whiting make before his position is untenable?

18 responses to “Charlie Whiting accused of negligence

  1. Sorry, but this is bull. The rules explicitly allow the teams to give an ‘Indication of a critical problem with the car.’ That the teams are unwilling to test the limits of this rule, but let their drivers crash, is on the teams, not on Whiting. Come back to me once Whiting has actually penalized a team for telling a driver: “your brakes are about to fail,” then I’ll condemn him, but not before.

    • So are you suggesting that Bianchi’s accident is on the teams, because they haven’t refused to race in the middle of a typhoon? Instead of on the safety delegate, who MUST ensure safe conditions for the competitors?

      • I’m talking about Perez’s brakes failing, not about Bianchi. Last time I checked, Bianchi’s accident didn’t have anything to do with the radio rules. But I do wonder if this story would have run like this without that accident. A lot of media have a nasty tendency to quickly create a narrative and then force new incidents into that narrative, regardless of it making sense. I’ve noticed that TJ13 has a tendency to do this, as well.

  2. Symonds has upped the anti with the charge of negligence over the radio ban, and the pressure is rising on Whiting to concede once again – as he was forced to do over the ridiculous qualifying format introduced earlier this year.

    The standing restarts after SC as well…

  3. This features stuff is not working well… or am I the only one who has to scroll down 6 articles from last weekend to get to a new one? Or is it only on phones?

  4. Basically, I see three possibilities:

    1. It was clear that the brakes were going to fail very soon, but FI was asleep or unaware of the rules. In that case, it’s 100% the fault of FI.

    2. It was unclear when/if the brakes were going to fail, but they looked bad. In that case, FI is partly to blame for not recognizing their inability to properly judge the brakes before the race (it happened at race 9, so they had enough time to figure that out!) and petitioning Whiting for an exception to allow more information about the brakes (and the brakes only). Then they are even more to blame for not petitioning Whiting after the race.

    3. The team thought that Perez was managing the brakes and they were very surprised by the failure. In that case, abolishing the radio ban wouldn’t have helped, since FI couldn’t have instructed Perez properly anyway.

    But frankly, the way that Horner and Symonds are playing the media, without actually addressing the details of the issue, looks more like they are playing games with driver safety to get rid of the restrictions completely. It feels very disingenuous.

    • 1. It was clear that the brakes were going to fail very soon, but FI was asleep or unaware of the rules. In that case, it’s 100% the fault of FI.

      They knew brakes were failing, asked for permission from the FIA to tell the driver, got denied. Then Perez crashed.

      • I read the article at and that wasn’t said, but I now looked at the article from, and that says that they were denied permission. If that is correct, it is the fault of race control. But then proper reporting is still to ask about the specific case and why this message wasn’t allowed, not just attack the rule in general.

        That may look like tough reporting, but it’s actually very weak, because it doesn’t actually force Whiting to explain the discrepancy between the rules and what race control ordered.

      • You are not a proper human being if you cannot decide for yourself that your driver is more important than those rules. The “but we asked permission and were denied” is like a camp guard who tells ‘yes I selected the ones to be killed, but I had to, it was what I was told to do, what was I supposed to do?’. Humans suck.

    • From what I understood of the Autosport article where this was revealed, it started as 4) – Force India knew the brakes were bad, but thought that action short of pitting would suffice to get the car over the line… …if they could convey that information. In other words, the same situation as Nico Rosberg in Britain, but affecting a different car component. Far closer than any of the three scenarios Aapje envisaged.

      Race Control refused this. It’s not clear if they were contacted by Force India first, given that Nico Hulkenberg had already retired with the same problem. It’s possible, at least in theory, that Race Control’s statement might have been pre-emptive. Force India decided to trust Perez’s abilities to figure out what was going on – not necessarily a silly call given that Sergio is one of the better drivers at sensing subtle car changes (arguably more so than his team-mate), but this turned out to be insufficient.

      Force India became aware that the brakes were about to fail at a point where it was too late to do anything to avoid the crash that happened. Given that this happened less than a lap from home, it is not much of a leap to suggest that the different interpretation between what it was given in Austria and what happened to Nico in Britain made the entire difference between the one finishing and the other not. It is possible that simply telling Sergio there was a brake problem – without even attempting to offer advice – would have changed the course of the race, but that wasn’t open to FIF1.

      What makes me really annoyed is that the radio restrictions were never going to work in the first place, because it’s fairly easy to code messages in ways that wouldn’t be detected by the system (and therefore not investigated). It does not limit driver coaching or any other illicit message any more than the limits of one’s creativity – unless you’re the sort of competitor who plays to the rules instead of trying to legitimately sidestep them at every turn. (Maybe that is part of the reason why Force India has never been close to Mercedes’ level of success, aside from the gulf in finances). As such, anything that sounds like a code is immediately suspect because it makes one think somebody *wanted* that message investigated and penalised.

      The radio rules, in their current form, post-date Jules’ accident and therefore cannot be a contributing factor. This is just as well given how many other things may well have been…

      • The article is saying it’s the different caps Whiting is wearing and his relationship with Ecclestone that create situations like the ban on driver support via radio, AND not cancelling or starting earlier in Japan because of bad weather. All of these are commercial rules/decisions in a way. Not the thing you may expect from somebody who is responsible for safety

  5. But the whole point of the radio ban is to give drivers responsibility. It is the team’s job to provide the driver with appropriate instrumentation so they can make decisions. Maybe its the telemetry that needs banning rather than the radio??? Let the car collect data by all means. Let the team analyse the data after the race. Without telemetry, then the radio can be free.

    • I’ve written similar to this many times.
      All teams use standard data collection and telemetry systems.
      Full telemetry FP1 through FP3.
      During qualy and race all data collected and stored on the car for post session analysis, but only critical info passed by telemetry.

  6. crazy how there aren’t basic instruments on the steering wheel or lights on the cockpit edge indicating basic system status. with how incredibly complex and detailed the telemetry is, I can’t believe the software techies can’t make a simple page on the LCD where u can see fuel, temp, brake pressure, water level, etc. super basic stuff that the driver can quickly see and assess as needed.

    • The issue is there is just so much with these cars that you can’t show it in a simple format that can be understood while going 200+mph.

  7. Fia rule 22.11 If a driver has serious mechanical difficulties he must leave the track as soon as it is safe to do so.
    Furthermore just like AAPJE said, critical messages are always allowed.
    Considering these two rules, it seems to me a very clever from Symonds to get more speed back to the car, via an overruling of the radio ban. And replace his problem to Charlie. Personally I like the radio ban, some of the current drivers are really lost with all the buttons on the steering wheel. The need to step up, to pick these skills.

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