Mercedes blamed Formula One’s radio regulations after a technical problem dented Briton Lewis Hamilton’s title hopes at the European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan on Sunday.
Hamilton vented his frustration to the team as he battled with the settings on his car and, although Mercedes engineers knew how to fix the problem, F1 rules prevented them from telling him.
It hampered his attempts to overtake Force India’s Sergio Perez, having battled from 10th on the grid to fifth, and allowed winner Nico Rosberg to extend his lead in the drivers’ standings to 24 points.
“Lewis had the setting from start of race and it was not obvious that this setting was causing the problem,” Mercedes said.
“The fundamental problem is on our heads as it was a configuration not working properly, not the driver’s fault. But the radio rules complicated things drastically: without this, it would have been solved immediately.”
Mercedes were able to advise Rosberg when he encountered the same problem because, unlike Hamilton, he had switched to the unfavourable setting after the race had started.
It allowed the German, who was lapping a second faster than his rivals, to claim a routine fifth win of the season – and a first since the Russian Grand Prix on 1 May.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel earned successive second-place finishes after disregarding instructions to pit early, while Perez notched his second podium appearance in three races.
Vettel’s colleague Kimi Raikkonen took fourth and England’s Jenson Button was 11th in an inaugural race on Baku’s street circuit, which lacked much of the predicted drama.