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In the days leading up the Spanish Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg told Autosport (h/t Eurosport) why he felt the increased team radio restrictions have been a success in 2016.
After several years of the drivers being dismissed as “muppets” spoon-fed information by their engineers, the championship leader believes the new “direction” has provided them with “a real challenge” to work “more on [their] own.”
While it might be true the drivers now face a “more intense and complex” test, the positives of the new radio rules are lost on the watching world.
Over the first five races, there has been no indication the restrictions have led to any “freak results”—as Mercedes’ Toto Wolff predicted, per Motorsport.com Jonathan Noble—and, if anything, they have robbed spectators of the valuable insight provided by frequent pit-to-car radio messages.
The kind of insight, in fact, that would have been more than welcome as Max Verstappen became the youngest-ever driver to win a race in Spain.
It would have been fascinating to hear the 18-year-old’s innermost thoughts as he withstood pressure from Kimi Raikkonen in the closing laps or—at the very least—to hear him call for blue flags as he flawlessly navigated lapped traffic, as team principal Christian Horner later told Noble.
Yet the only time we were allowed to tune in to Radio Verstappen all afternoon was when the Red Bull driver crossed the finish line.
“Yes, yes!” cried one voice from the pit wall.
“Unbelievable, Max. Unbelievable,” commented another.
“I can’t believe it,” Verstappen replied before Horner congratulated his new driver in a similar fashion to the way he celebrated Sebastian Vettel’s maiden title triumph in 2010.
“Max Verstappen, you are a race winner! Fantastic, what a great debut! What a debut, fantastic! Great, great job!”
Interestingly, Verstappen’s celebrations over pit-to-car radio—despite his tender age—couldn’t be more distinguishable from those of Vettel, who once dominated the Red Bull airwaves with ear-piercing screeches of excitement and Crazy Frog impressions.
“Thank you very much, Christian,” he responded, absorbing victory in the same remarkably calm, composed manner he has handled almost everything else since making his F1 debut exactly 14 months ago.
It offered a small glimpse into Verstappen’s mindset on a landmark afternoon, but it would have been nice to have received a few more over the course of the preceding 66 laps.