Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monza, 2014

Who will gain – and lose – from radio rule change?

2014 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monza, 2014When the 2014 season began it was clear we were about to see an increase in the amount of team radio traffic due to the demands placed on drivers by their considerably more complicated cars.

The FIA has now decided to impose limits on what drivers may be told by their teams with the intention of preventing them from getting too much assistance with driving their cars. The changes will come into effect from the first practice session on Friday at Singapore.

This is significant because the FIA is attempting to do something it had previously indicated wasn’t possible. At the end of 2010 a ban on teams issuing orders to their drivers – for example, to relinquish a position to their team mate – was lifted. Earlier in the season Felipe Massa had given up victory to Fernando Alonso in the German Grand Prix after being given the now-infamous radio message “Fernando is faster than you”.

The FIA now proposes to forbid a much broader range of team radio messages and also prevent teams from getting around the ban by using code words. Ironically, team orders will not be part of the new ban.

Nor will instructions for drivers to make a pit stop or traffic information relating to other cars. However driving style advice, instructions on car settings and information about tyre and brake wear will be forbidden.

At a stroke the FIA has created a huge new area to police. All radio traffic between each of the 22 cars could now be grounds for an infringement and subject to a protest. A review of some of the common messages heard in recent races gives insight into who stands to benefit and lose from the new policy, how much radio traffic will now be illegal, and where potential grey areas could cause the kind of “controversies” teams have already warned about.

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Driving style

Following the increase in the use of team radio broadcasts in recent seasons, some commentators have criticised messages to drivers telling them how to alter their driving style. Stopping this appears to be one of the main focuses of the new approach.

Here are some examples of messages like this we’ve heard in recent races:

Austria21Angel BaenaMarcus EricssonKamui braking later two, three and five. You can improve exit nine.
Austria64Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonGuys give me some updates on where I can be quicker.
Austria64Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonYeah copy that Lewis we’ll just get a couple of clean laps, mostly traffic that’s been hurting you. Mainly turns five and six, we’ll give you more information soon. So braking at turn two and three, where you are managing, and turn five and six.
Germany6Gianpiero LambiaseSergio PerezCheco, focus on the exit of turn 12. We’re losing two tenths on the exit of turn 12 alone, OK? That’s where our time loss is at the moment.
Britain13Tony RossNico RosbergBe more progressive with the steering, turns one and two.
Hungary8Gianpiero LambiaseSergio PerezCheco, use shorter gears at all apexes, please. Use a lower gear at all apexes. Too slow on the throttle down to turn two as well, OK? Nico far more aggressive on the throttle down to turn two. Stop the car a bit earlier for the apex of turn one and get on the power.

However clamping down on this type of radio message could go beyond giving information on how a driver should take a certain corner.

It could include telling them whether they should be conserving their tyres or pushing, and whether they should attack a rival or hold position. Even general words of encouragement like “just keep it up” could be interpreted as an instruction to maintain the current pace instead of lapping more quickly or slowly.

There are other potential grey areas as well. For example, can drivers be given information about the status of an area of the track from a safety point of view, as they were in Canada? And if so how much can they be told without it being considered excessive assistance?

Canada2Brad JoyceSergio PerezCheco, the information we have, or that we can give you, is that there is less debris off-line in those corners. Stay off-line if you can. And more brake temperature.
Canada3Guillaume RocquelinSebastian VettelOK Sebastian, if you go through the chicane again – turn three and turn four – just have a good look at the track conditions. There’s fluid on the exit of turn four, which we think is on-line. Just have a good look, you know better.
Canada7Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonNeed someone to keep an eye out at the restart to see what people do in turn four, please. If people clean it up, I can attack there.
Canada8Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonYeah Lewis, I’m sure you’ve seen it, but the outside of turn four does look bad, so you are going to have to modify your line, obviously.

And will team members be allowed to remind drivers about specific rules? If not we could see an increase in penalties as drivers struggle to recall the more obscure parts of F1’s 55-page Sporting Regulations.

Britain2Guillaume RocquelinSebastian VettelAnd remember, ten car lengths behind Safety Car.
Hungary10Guillaume RocquelinSebastian VettelAnd remember, you’re racing to Safety Car line two. You’re racing to Safety Car line two, which is at pit exit. Box, box.

These are the kinds of details teams will want to clear up before this weekend’s track action begins.

Car operation

In 2003 the FIA banned teams from using pit-to-car telemetry to adjust their cars without any input from the driver while they were on the circuit. Since then, teams have replicated that approach by giving drivers instructions on the radio to make the necessary changes in the cockpit via the multi-function dials on their steering wheels.

Judging by the sheer volume of messages drivers receive relating to car settings, having to master their car controls without assistance from the pit wall is going to be a significant challenge.

Some drivers have already had problems navigating the myriad options available to them in their cars’ menus. Here’s a small sample of the kind of messages we already hear along these lines:

Canada6Guillaume RocquelinSebastian VettelRight Sebastian, think about bias for restart. You’re currently minus-two, which would be good for on-track, but could be a bit short for first lap. And ten car lengths, if you can.
Canada16Kimi RaikkonenAntonio SpagnoloI don’t know what is ‘P4’?
Canada16Antonio SpagnoloKimi RaikkonenOK, so it’s 12 clicks on the ’10’-button, and four clicks on the ‘1’-button.
Canada32Tony RossNico RosbergNico, we need to increase fuel saving again. Fuel is increasing at the moment. So where you can, longer gears and a little bit more Hoagys.
Austria23Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonOK Lewis let’s lay off the overtake for a bit. We’ll just get that ESS up, get this battery charge back up.
Austria23Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonI have plenty of pace. Can I charge it more?
Austria23Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonYeah we’ll look into it Lewis, we are on the limit though at the moment.
Britain5Brad JoyceNico HulkenbergWe’re on the bottom of the state of store, no overtake. No overtake.
Germany23Mark TempleKevin MagnussenAnd Kevin, you’ll have to switch to ‘golf three’, where you would’ve used the overtake, and then switch back to ‘golf six’.
Germany23Kevin MagnussenMark TempleIt doesn’t work. It doesn’t switch on when you switch these.
Germany23Mark TempleKevin MagnussenSo, it won’t make the overtake button work, but if you switch to ‘golf six’ on the start fin– ‘golf three’ on the start/finish line and then leave it there until turn six, that will give the extra power.

It’s not hard to see how this might lead some teams to simplify the control systems on their cars. There isn’t much room in an F1 cockpit for a user’s manual so they may have to reduce the functionality available to their drivers.

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2014This could have interesting consequences for how drivers use their cars’ high performance settings. Access to these is restricted because of the extra strain they place upon the car.

Teams try to limit how frequently drivers use them in the heat of battle, but haven’t always been successful. Both Mercedes drivers are known to have made unauthorised use of their car’s high power settings on occasions this year, and Sebastian Vettel did the same during his battle with Mark Webber in Malaysia last year.

Teams may give their drivers a pre-defined maximum number of presses on their overtake button, or add another signal on their display which shows when it is available.

Preventing teams from giving instructions on how to change settings on their cars could be to the detriment of less experienced drivers, who are more likely to need this sort of assistance. And those teams without their own simulator, such as Sauber, will have less opportunity to prepare for this significant change in policy.

Tyre and brake management

The FIA is normally very wary of making any change which might be seen as a compromise on safety standards. Removing the ability for teams to warn their drivers about the extent of their brake and tyre wear could be seen as that, although drivers are likely to be given access to this information through their steering wheel displays.

That means no more messages like this:

Austria8Andrew MurdochFelipe MassaKeep looking after the rear-left, we have to look after the rear-left tyre. Try diff entry four.
Austria9Andrew MurdochFelipe MassaWe need to keep looking after the rear-left exit turns one, two and three. Obviously keep short-shifting where possible.
Austria10Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonFront brakes again over limit. Just have a think about the compromises.
Austria23Gary GannonMax ChiltonLet’s try and use the tyre to keep Kobayashi behind, use the tyre. We’ll adjust our plan and use the tyre.
Austria33Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonBrake info please.
Austria33Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonLast lap you were over target. Not by much. It doesn’t take much management.
Canada34Nico RosbergTony RossWhere is my team mate on brake balance, forwards or rearwards?
Canada35Tony RossNico RosbergHe’s more rearwards of you, you’re more forwards.
Austria20Francesco NenciJules BianchiWe have hot front brake temperatures. Brake balance minus four clicks on the dash.
Hungary2Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonMy brakes are still not working, it’s still on ‘passive’.
Hungary2Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonOK, so we just need to get some brake temperature into the front-right. It is starting to come up.
Hungary2Lewis HamiltonPeter BonningtonIt’s still in ‘passive’ though.
Hungary2Peter BonningtonLewis HamiltonYeah, copy that Lewis. As soon as we get the temperature up, we can go driver default one-zero again.
Hungary22Guillaume RocquelinSebastian VettelSebastian, your front caliper is a little warm. Rearwards on bias if you can. Rearwards on bias if you can.

It remains to be seen what degree of car damage teams are allowed to warn their drivers about. It’s hard to imagine the FIA forbidding a team from instructing a driver to retire a car on safety grounds – for example, if they noticed an imminent rear wing failure.

The need to warn a driver about a potential brake failure is sure to be a concern as this weekend’s race is being held at one of the toughest tracks on the calendar for brake wear.

Big brother’s listening

Toro Rosso radio buttons, Monza, 2014Television viewers are played some radio messages on the main world feed and more are heard via the pit wall channel. During each race the total number played has varied from less than 100 to almost 300 over the past months, with a conspicuous fall in the last two races.

However it’s likely the vast majority of race traffic to F1 drivers is never broadcast in the first place. Additional messages are often added to FOM’s post-race highlights videos and the end-of-season reviews. This season we have tended to hear many messages involving the Mercedes drivers, who have usually been leading, but far few from other teams – such as Ferrari, from whom we heard only one message during the last race.

While the FIA has the ability to listen to and record all radio communications, for the purposes of prompt enforcement of the rules they would have to do so in real-time for every car – which would presumably involved having one delegate assigned to listening to all the communications from each driver.

The messages above are only a small sample of those broadcast so far this year and are not representative of how many communications are made between each team and their drivers. As we only hear a portion of the messages from each team, that make it very hard to judge who has been using their radios the most and therefore who stands to lose more from the new interpretation of the rules.

For example, because the two Mercedes drivers are usually in contention for victory this year, we hear much more from their radio than we did in previous recent seasons.

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As for the question of whether some teams will be tempted to try to get around the ban using code words, note that this is already being done to an extent to disguise certain radio messages. Red Bull’s team orders code ‘Multi 21’ became notorious after the events of Malaysia that year, and in Japan Ferrari gave Massa the order “Multifunction Strategy A”, which was an instruction to let team mate Fernando Alonso past.

Over to you

How do you think the FIA’s new restrictions on radio messages will affect this weekend’s race – and the rest of the championship? Which drivers and teams stand to gain and lose the most?

Have your say in the comments.

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Images © Red Bull/Getty, Mercedes/Hoch Zwei

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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111 comments on “Who will gain – and lose – from radio rule change?”

  1. I am especially hopeful that the restrictions will prevent those questions by drivers on ‘how team-mates are doing at the moment’ or the ‘what do I have to do to be quicker’-messages. More so if they are in a straight fight with their team-mate at that exact moment.

    1. @gdewilde – I agree. Frankly, I think anything that makes F1 harder is a good thing! At the moment, it’s all far too easy for them.

    2. @gdewilde I agree. They already have the telemetry on the pits, all the diagrams and stuff to see where they are losing time.

      They don’t need instant information about it. Deal with it.

      Maybe because of the radio ban things become simpler in terms of car management because the drivers will struggle a lot more to make specific changes. I don’t see anything wrong with that IMO

      1. So, notification of “Yellow flags, blue flags, Safety Car deployment or other cautions” banned? Doesn’t that sound like a backwards step in terms of track safety?

        1. Nope, that is in the list of “Messages permitted (for the avoidance of doubt)”, so those are allowed.

    3. Surely that is exactly what new drivers are going to need. For example if Pascal Wehrlein has to drive a practice session this week it seems only right that he should be allowed some coaching on where he could do better..

      F1 is going to be the only sport I can think of that will forbid coaching a team member during practice. It is bizarre.

      1. Indeed @ians. I would think that especially during TRAINING sessions there shouldn’t be any ban on radio. First of all, it is exactly what enables the driver to get the most out of his car and optimize setup in the limited time available.
        And apart from that, watching FP sessions is only interesting because we hear what they are doing (and not having radio might also mean having to take longer breaks in between runs to discuss things, meaning even less on track action)

  2. Are there any rules for what can be shown on the pitboards? I was wondering if it might be possible to give car settings to the driver.

    1. @ninefiveasn From what I have heard there will be restrictions on those too.

      1. @strontium @ninefiveasn I have been wondering since the start of this year if the teams have the capability to send a sorta ‘text message’ to the driver to display on their LCD panel. It would be a way to get around the radio ban until the FIA discovers it and likely bans it as well.

    2. @ninefiveasn Yes it does extend to pit boards according to Autosport

  3. Looking at the amount of messages it is pretty clear that those who had more will lose more. So the biggest losers will probably be the Merc boys, followed by RB. This should even the playing field quite a lot :)

    1. But as was pointed out, we don’t get all the messages. Just because we hear more from those guys doesn’t mean they talk more on the radio than Marussia or Caterham. I was in the back of the Lotus garage for the start of the race in Spa, with a headset plugged into the radio, and trust me, there is a huge amount of radio traffic!!

    2. That’s just messages broadcast, which are only a fraction of actual messages sent. We hear more from the Mercedes drivers as they’re normally the drivers fighting for wins.

    3. @nmsi As I said in the article, we only hear what FOM choose to broadcast. You’re treating the data as if it’s based on every message sent by every team, which it isn’t.

    4. Are you serious or just joking with this comment? lol

      Mercedes and RedBull are BROADCASTED more often because they are more relevant for the viewers than the other teams. They do not actually communicate more over the radio than say Marussia. We just don’t get to hear Marussia for obvious reasons.

      1. And yet, we’ve heard almost as many messages from Marussia over the past five races as we have from Ferrari. Even taking into consideration we may not hear so many of Alonso’s messages because they tend not to be in English, this still seems odd to me.

        1. Given that there is the chance of a team protesting based on seeing/hearing a rival team broadcast it seems to me that the issue of which messages are broadcast becomes a bigger issue with the teams most broadcast more likely to be picked up for a complaint/protest.

          This is the case even if an FIA delegate is monitoring a driver’s radio unless they can guarantee each delegate is fluent in every language which the driver speaks since coded messages could otherwise be difficult to pick up. In this case will the FIA be forced into publishing full radio transcripts in order to ensure openness and equality.

          1. I’m pretty sure that:
            a) The FIA record and monitor all radio, whether broadcast or not, and
            b) They will have people fluent in all the languages spoken by the teams. Any team which suddenly changes which language they speak, especially if it’s obscure, will likely trigger an investigation on it’s own, as it’s kinda suspicious.

          2. Maybe this is key – if its forbidden, we can be completely sure that the teams will have people closely monitoring everything that is broadcast and file complaints, so maybe the FIA itself will not have to listen in real time?

            Still its quite a task reviewing a thousand (or possibly far more for the whole weekend) radio messages.

  4. Re: Mercedes, Lewis seems to want to know what’s happening with his race, Nico wants to know what’s happening with his race and Lewis’s (presumably so he can react).

    This could decide the next few races, if not the championship…

    1. Austria 64 Lewis Hamilton Peter Bonnington Guys give me some updates on where I can be quicker.
      Austria 64 Peter Bonnington Lewis Hamilton Yeah copy that Lewis we’ll just get a couple of clean laps, mostly traffic that’s been hurting you. Mainly turns five and six, we’ll give you more information soon. So braking at turn two and three, where you are managing, and turn five and six.

      What do you think the ‘quicker’-part means here? Being quicker then Rosberg of course, it was in the final stages of the Austrian GP when he was chasing him.

      I don’t think either of them is less or more focused on each other during a race/ close battle.

      1. AGAIN…you guys need to listen to what Keith said in the article: You’re hearing what FOM has chosen to broadcast. The other drivers are asking the same questions.

        1. that’s what I was implying….

      2. Quicker can mean quicker but your right they will be comparing information with Rosberg and tell Lewis. The thing is you have to react if your team mate is getting your info and going faster if you don’t he will beat you. Thats why I think they keep asking about their team mates.

  5. Definitely going to hurt Mercedes most, that much was obvious, and I believe it’s their total misuse of the medium which has brought about this move, long overdue. They can use the pit-boards and the drivers will have to learn the systems. Teams can also make their on-board systems more intuitive, or “Raikonnen Friendly” for 2015.

    1. @baron How are Mercedes ‘misusing’ it?

      1. Just the sheer amount of instructions to and from the pit wall on every conceivable parameter. For me it has taken away the skill of the driver to say nothing of the confusion it has caused many of them. Mercedes have gone too far with it which is why I suspect they have clamped down on the practice for all. Some of the instructions appear to have left drivers floundering and I really believe that they (the drivers) would probably prefer just to be able to get on with it, knowing that the team have maximised the car for the circuit. Put it this way, it seems that the essential target for Mercedes is the Constructors title, and nothing else really matters for them, not even the drivers sensibilities, and I have long argued that the pit wall messages have ended up detracting, not adding to the competition for this reason.

        1. @baron

          Just the sheer amount of instructions

          But, again, we don’t know that Mercedes are sending more instruction than the other teams are. We only know FOM have played more of their messages this year.

          When you look at the content of the messages, other teams are also giving their drivers information about driving style, settings adjustments and so on.

          1. I agree abut perhaps Mercedes messages featured more. Having said that, I would have expected such a team to rely LESS on such messages..

          2. It features more because they have been leading a lot more races. Its the same as all the brake messages we have been hearing on Hamiltons side since he had the brake failure, they broadcast it more now than they did before, its not like the messages were not there its just that its now being broadcast more. I think the FIA wouldnt broadcast a lot of messages from other teams like the Caterhams because they are in the back and no one will care about what their radio says, but the Mercs especially if they are asking about each other creates drama which is good for TV

      2. @keithcollantine great piece Keith but I think the above illustrates perhaps a mistake in publishing the chart that shows the frequency of radio messages WE GET TO HEAR – rather than a sum-total of ALL radio messages.
        Many readers will skim the article, find themselves drawn to the graph and base their conclusions on this glimpse alone…

        1. @psynrg

          rather than a sum-total of all radio messages

          If I had that data of course I would have used it here. But I thought it was important to point out that the perception and reality may not match up.

          I think the reaction in the comments has shown was worthwhile. Clearly a lot of people assume that because we hear Mercedes on the radio more that means they’re using it a lot more than their rivals. That may be so, but it doesn’t seem likely, and at the moment we have no way of knowing whether it’s the case.

          1. my guess is that there would be so much radio traffic that if it was all played Brundle would not get a word in !

          2. my guess is that there would be so much radio traffic that if it was all played Brundle would not get a word in !

            The perfect argument for giving fans specific driver radio feeds to choose from @greg-c!

            I would think its likely that we hear about 15-20% of the radio messages at Mercedes at most currently (average 1-2 a lap, more during pre race could mean over 100 messages per car per race, not counting practice sessions)

    2. Nobody was misusing it, just fully utilising the system.

    3. In my opinion, the Massa/Smedley pair were the worst abusers of radio coaching. Maybe Massa was allowed to get away with it because he wasn’t dominant, or maybe Ferrari had too much power.

      The major FIA mid-season changes this season have been introduced to reduce Mercedes dominance; so why didn’t they do that during the Red Bull years? We had year after year of boring races, yet the FIA took no action to pull them back to the rest of the pack.

      It really makes you wonder who’s pulling whose strings here, and whether the FIA will only be happy when Red Bull are back in front.

  6. Its pretty easy. Ban them. Pitboards only. No policing, no extra cost. I watch f1 for the racing not for the chatting.

    1. @antonyob – I think you need to keep the radio for safety reasons but I would certainly extend the ban on radio to strategy and team orders. The radio should be for safety issues only. In effect, only things that cannot wait until the driver passes the pit straight… I wouldn’t limit comms from the car to the pits though.

      1. I’d just make it so the FIA are the only ones who can broadcast to drivers, and only safety messages. Teams can pass messages to the FIA, for instance if they want the car retired if they see a problem, but these should be broadcast as announcements to all drivers at the same time. Job done!

    2. I always enjoy listening to team radio.

      1. Yeah I agree, gives insight to what is going on in the cockpit. I always notch up the volume as soon as I see the ‘radio’ graphic appear!

        1. This is my biggest disappointment with this change: I love the team radaio, almost as much as the live timing screens etc. When I watch a GP, I tend to have at least 3 screens on the go, sometimes more (Race on TV, timing on tablet, driver tracker on phone, then sometimes a laptop or tablet with some onboard feeds). Team radio will be non-existent, which will loose us all a valuable part of the action :(

    3. If someone crashes at a blind corner it would be great if the team could tell warn the driver about it dont you think?

    4. Michael Brown (@)
      16th September 2014, 2:30

      Yes let’s go back to the 60’s.

    5. @antonyob

      I watch F1 for the racing, not for the colourful helmets, therefore they should all be forced to have uniform grey helmets.

      I watch F1 for the racing, not for the collection of data, therefore they should be banned from having any sensors on the car.

      I watch F1 for the racing, not for the spraying of champagne on the podium so they should scrap the podium ceremony.

  7. In the graph above, I’m wondering what percentage of the Red Bull/Ferrari message totals were from the Vettel/Alonso fight at Silverstone: Alonso: “Track limits!”; Vettel, “…and another one!”

  8. So hard to know right now. I can understand the temptation to say Merc will be hurt the most as they appear to do the most chatter, but that is not necessarily true as we might just be allowed to hear more from them than the others. Merc could be hurt the least because they are dominant anyway, and if one were to argue this rule change is the same for everyone then perhaps it will be status quo, or if anything, the lesser teams that need all the help they can get didn’t need this taken away from them.

    I just find it baffling that they introduced to the teams 3 years ago the new technical regs for 2014 with the sweeping changes to the power units, and after all the time and money spent the first words out of BE’s mouth is ‘they’re too quiet’, and now, as complex as these cars have been made, by FIA/FOM/team decision, they decide mid-season the complexity forces too much radio chatter. I’m not against simplifying, but my goodness F1 has become an entity akin to a dog chasing it’s own tail. At this point one can reasonably ask…what out-of-the-blue thing will be next? Tweaking these twerps tweets?

    1. @robbie I’d be inclined to agree that Mercedes will be least affected because of their dominant package. A lot of the chatter is so that the teams can push to the edge of the performance envelope without too much risk, if the communications are scaled back then either the drivers need to become extremely well trained in the engineering side or, more likely, the available systems/options will be significantly reduced. Assuming the later is the case then the remaining options and their usage are likely to be more conservative.

      As the dominant manufacturer Mercedes have probably been less inclined to push the limits because it hasn’t been necessary so they may already have a bit more margin. For the chasing teams they are probably closer to the edge and will need to introduce greater safety margin when the drivers lose the radio updates and instructions from the engineers.

  9. If drivers can attach their smart phones to the steering wheels, engineers can tweet them all the information – no radio messages, everything legal.

    1. Pit to car data transmission ie text messages are already banned and have been for a while. Car to pit isnt, which is why teams like merc have a dial to tell the pits how worn their tires are. Also unmentioned in the article, teams will be able to answer with a simple yes or no to questions from the driver.

      1. Answering a driver’s direction question (E.g. “Am I using the right torque map?”) – Banned

    2. Sure, vjm, it would be really easy to read a tweet at 200 mph in an open cockpit race car with rock hard suspension.

      1. heard of this new thing, sarcasm?

  10. I have another spanner to chuck in the works. I don’t know if many here remember the advent of car to pit wall telemetry via radio during the 80’s/ early 90’s I think. Ferrari often accused others of tampering with their car as it appeared to misfire every time it came past the pits and people were seen lurking around circuits with black boxes festooned with wires etc. It was suspected that teams could alter the basic parameters of the cars from the pits and a furorore developed as a result. It all quietly faded away as it was considered “unsporting” but in my mind it has continued unabated since. And that’s the point, they don’t REALLY need the driver to do anything – it could all be done from the pit wall without a word being spoken, however, at present, it could only happen when the car passes the pits, but the strategic placement of transmitters around the circuit could ensure that any possible changeable parameter could be modified in real time.

    It will not be long before drivers will be rendered obsolete..

    1. That will be a cost saving !

    2. It was suspected that teams could alter the basic parameters of the cars from the pits and a furorore developed as a result.

      That was available, known about by all, and banned (I think in 2003?)

      This is no longer possible, which is why the engineers tell the drivers what to change.

  11. It’s almost impossible to say who will gain and who will lose because I suspect the teams themselves will be most concerned about how individual race stewards will interpret the rules and possibly even more importantly hand out the penalties. We have debated this on the forums for a few days now, they will only have minutes or even seconds to make their minds up. As we know from Spa, some don’t give the evidence more than a seconds consideration before making up their mind, it’s recipe for disaster.

    Ball games are well known for ‘playing the referee’, ie establishing what that person, on that day, is prepared to tolerate, F1 is in danger of going the same way.

    Why not split the issue into two, allow recommendations for control system settings and overall pace, but exclude advice on the basics of driving, ie braking points, corner lines and use of throttle. Much easier to police.

  12. Personally I think the “clarification” should have been about enhancing the performance of the driver, rather than car and driver. If they wanted, things like fuel consumption and tyre wear could still be included in this as that could be argued as being down to “driving technique”, but the engineers could then still advise drivers on settings of the car, which, as far as I’m aware, is not really what people have a problem with. For example, part of the reason the Merc battle in Bahrain was so good was that each side of the garage was advising the driver on when to charge the battery, and what power setting to use, which, for me, added to the battle, and probably contributed to it being so close.

    What a lot of commenters/commentators have been complaining about it instructions like “brake later into T1” or “watch rear tyre slip”, and the reason people have a problem with that is that they think this is the job of the driver.

    1. I totally agree.

      I think the main issue is with telling the drivers how to drive fast i.e. “brake later into T7 and more apex speed in T11”

      All the other stuff, and I think the Bahrain battle is a great example, really added to the show imho.

      To hear what teams and drivers are doing with strategies, managing their tyres and fuel loads was interesting to me. The harvesting and engine mode and being able to use ‘overtake’ or not was super interesting to me, especially in close battle.

      The only thing I personally really didn’t like to hear was the moaning in the hope the stewards would give the other guy a penalty. It’s as unsportsmanlike as asking the ref to give an opponent a yellow or red card. Blegh!

      But yea, other than that it was a really good featture and I’m gonna miss the insight it provided.

  13. I dont think it will necesarily benefit anyone, per se. One driver might benefit at one race but not the next.

    Problems may also arise from situations where, like in Monza, Hamilton had an issue on his formation start-prep and now they cannot ask for assistence. I can also see many arguements where drivers have asked for/recieved help in such situations.

  14. I think this is too short notice, this needs to happen between seasons so the teams can deal with it and simplify the systems. I foresee a few tantrums from drivers who get frustrated when they need to know something, mainly in the race as in other sessions they can just pit. If ferrari don’t manage to simplify their system i can see Raikkonen getting frustrated and he will just leave if he wants to.
    Also this is very unfair to teams without the new steering wheel display as this will prove to be very useful if it is programmed right. All the different sensors can be used to display the information such as brake temps getting too high could show up a warning to the driver.
    I would like to see the drivers managing their own ERS power levels and stuff using the steering wheel display but I think this is just too rushed and ambiguous.

  15. The messages above are only a small sample of those broadcast so far this year and are not representative of how many communications are made between each team and their drivers. As we only hear a portion of the messages from each team, that make it very hard to judge who has been using their radios the most and therefore who stands to lose more from the new interpretation of the rules.

    @KeithCollantine As you rightly mentioned this is a very small sample and might not be indicative of all the messages. Like there are always very few of Alonso’s messages. It could be mostly because they are speaking in Spanish or Italian over the radio.

    1. @tmax Makes me wonder if they’re going to keep a German/Italian/Spanish/Finnish/etc. translator on duty at all times…

      1. @maarten-f1 +1 Interesting thought I never looked in that angle. Don’t forget the Hindi from Force India (I am sure Hulkenberg and Perez are out practising hindi for the Motoring Key Words in Hindi) .

        I am hoping Jenson has learnt some Japanese through his Girl Friend. The Honda engineers would be able to help him out that way next year. Tough luck this year for him though.

        1. @tmax yes!
          Encoded Japanese for the winner!

  16. Formula Indonesia (@)
    15th September 2014, 16:19

    Merc could cost a lot, their drivers will be less controlled, which means we could see another Spa, but it just a estimation, i dont think my view is 100% correct. but it seemed disadvantage most teams, because small teams also need it even though only few radio

  17. Personaly I want more pit radio not less. It adds to the concept of F1 being a team sport and shines a light on the great work the rest of the team are doing. Knowing the context of what’s going on behind the scenes makes a lot of situations, that would otherwise be boring, quite interesting. To know that a driver is going to “attack at the end” adds suspense to the mix.

    So while I agree that messages concerning the actual driving (braking points, lines etc.) should go, I believe the chatter about settings, strategy and the condition of a cars systems would be missed. If they want the show, why ban this?

    Hoping for a live stream here ;-)

    1. Absolutely agree, I feel like we are stepping backwards here. Driver coaching doesn’t bother me, I do it from the passenger seat all the time. :)

      Team radio during the broadcast is also one way to get the TV announcers to shut their mouthes for a moment. But not usually.

    2. I agree. The days are long gone when it was a race between drivers – it is all about the teams now. The teams enter the cars, the teams get all FIA communications, and the team gets the prize money.

      F1 is a technical sport, and it is only right that we should hear how they are working as a team. This change is being made by FIA dinosaurs trying to live in the past.

    3. yeah, I agree as well @bcrh. It adds hugely to understanding what is going on to hear as much as possible. Afterall the target is to get as much as they can out of the cars on track, and on top it shows this really is a team effort.

      If they would be seriously worried about drivers being coached through every corner, they should have called in Massa and Smedley years ago, at times it was almost comical to see how the WDC contender was guided during races!

    4. Agree with all these replys

  18. Fans will lose and FIA in their try to monitor that!

    I´m really curious to see how all this will evolve from now on.

    Anyway, I sense FIA has been anachronistic on this decision. Those cars are really, really complex machines. So, FIA should provide a way to drivers have access to all information available and take decisions basead on reall information not only on guesses.

    It´s a step back.

  19. Reading these, it makes me think one big factor in what the FOM decide to broadcast is length of message. Shorter are obviously better for them.
    As has been said before, this rule enforcement is going to make this weekend _dead_ interesting.
    I wonder if we’ll get an idea how the race will unfold after seeing how Free practices and qualifying unfold?
    And I was also thinking, what chance is there that this will actually have little impact on the pecking order, a la FRICS?

    If anyone stands to benefit I’d say it’s drivers like Kimi ‘just let me drive’ Raikkonnen.

  20. Great piece as always, but still not in favor of the change, especially in-season. But frankly, I’m misanthropic enough to not even articulate my arguments when the FIA simply throws in a new rule in-season these days, as these don’t seem to come from a place of reason.

    Also, @keithcollantine, Dutch F1 commentator Olav Mol linked to the article earlier as well:

  21. Imo – it is a stupid change. If they had banned it for next season fine – this would have given the teams enough time to adapt and the FIA enough time to come up with clear instructions – but to change it between races where SW needs to be rewritten and procedures changed is too much to bear. And considering that they also ban messages about tyre conditions and other things there is also a safety concern. Not allowing them to inform a driver about temperatures or slow punctures or other potential threats is just plain reckless.

  22. I’m sure raikkonen is thrilled…the less they can bother him the better lol

  23. I completely disagree with this change, particularly mid season.

    These new powertrains they’re using this year are complicated beasts, and have been designed to run in umpteen different modes with who knows how many parameters. There’s no way a driver will know exactly when to use what mode without assistance from the pit wall. This should have been introduced for next season in order to allow the teams more time to simplify the software and the steering wheel mounted controls.

    Having said that, I disagree with the extent of the ban anyway. A driver asking where he is losing time (much like Hamilton does in qualifying) and getting a response along the lines of “a tenth in sector one, and two tenths in sector three”, I think is fine. It’s then up to the driver to figure out how to find that time.

    Similarly, even a more specific message such as, “losing time turn 2, carry more entry speed”, I think is fine too. Car setups are often slightly different, and in many cases just throwing the car in at higher speed won’t work. The driver will probably need to adjust his line on corner entry and obviously adjust his braking point.

    A message like Massa got that says “stop overlapping your throttle and braking”, I agree with being over the top. A driver should know not to do that, and that it’s horribly inefficient.

    I understand distinguishing these messages is perhaps tricky, hence the extent of the ban, but I’d rather not see it happen at all. I like hearing the messages, as it gives a greater understanding of just how complicated these cars are, and also reminds us that this is a team game. In my view anything that can help one teammate get on terms with the other, then great. The more closely matched, the closer the racing.

  24. These things are banned in practice too, which is stupid as that is really what practice is for right?!

  25. I don’t think there will be any particular team/driver losing (or gaining) more.

    Many people are ready to point at certain teams based on their preference or poorly understanding the table presented in the article.

    There are various reasons why we hear more/less from specific drivers/teams.
    – Being a front runners;
    – Championship contenders;
    – Interesting characters/comments;
    But we will also hear more from teams with well-tuned and better developed cars. For them to get the extra split second there is nothing else to do than to deeply analyse their own race and driving style and that of others.
    Therefore, it might very well be that the Merc drivers are actually talking more about driving style, not because they need it, but simple because there is nothing else to focus on!

  26. Good for the more instinctive, more “feel of the car” drivers (best of them is easily Jenson Button, also Kimi “I know what am doing” Raikonnen) who average things out, as well as those who are able to wring the stuff out of a car (Alonso, Lewis “No more feedback guys” Hamilton). Bad for those who need constant feedback to know how the car is doing, what to do with which button, etc.
    This will be purer racing. Of course, the best would be to ban all radio communications save for pit calls and accident issues (“Nico hit me, Nico hit me!”).

  27. I’d have liked to see some data on whether any drivers’ laptimes actually improved after getting the radio coaching.

  28. I noticed at Le Mans and in WEC this year that the race director often contacts the entire field to warn of them of danger, saftey cars, corner-cutting etc, so why not mike up Charlie Whiting and allow him and ONLY him to be able to speak to the drivers ??

    This would leave us with something that could still be braodcast on TV to keep fans up-to-date with what’s going on, but in effect this would be similar to having the referee miked up in Rugby Union, in the sense that the man in the middle still has the greatest authority rather than the men on the touchline dictating the game.

    1. That is mainly because the way that the ACO organises certain events, such as safety cars, is more complicated (at longer circuits, such as Spa, the pack is split up behind two safety cars) and therefore requires considerably more intervention from race control to keep that under control.

  29. I think he will use codes.

  30. Am I the only one that views banning driver coaching from the pit wall as it is now as a step forward? Those that want “live streaming” – simple, just broadcast limited parameters for the car, just like G Force , brake energy, ERS discharge etc, you knowledgeable fans can get excited by diff torsion bias, and air/fuel ratios all without comment from would be radio stars in the garage. You can work out what’s going on and so can the driver. To have a barrage of “instructions” in the drivers ear all the time is so low tech it beggars belief and I fail to see how banning this inane prehistoric method of comms is a backward step. No-one has said that the driver doesn’t need to know it, it’s just the delivery system that is archaic. A high tech solution is to beam messages to the car for the driver to decide on, not rabbit away in the guys ear causing him to miss braking points etc..

    Good riddance…

    1. No-one has said that the driver doesn’t need to know it, it’s just the delivery system that is archaic.

      Hm, but listening to what is said allows you to keep your eyes on the road far better than if you have to read something.
      As for giving information only when the driver needs it – that is exactly what we see most of the time from the top guys: the likes of Alonso, Vettel, and more and more Hamilton, Rosberg and Ricciardo (to name a few we have heard on the radio doing so) instead request information from their team to better understand the whole situation and use their own mind to decide how to approach the race.

    2. Am I the only one that views banning driver coaching from the pit wall as it is now as a step forward?

      You probably aren’t the only one, but I, for one, disagree.

      The cars, as they are currently designed, require mode changes from one lap to the next (or from one corner to the next), and require constant tweaks to ensure they are running at their best. The driver cannot be expected to understand and remember all that: It is the engineers job. The cars are immensely complicated.

      A high tech solution is to beam messages to the car for the driver to decide on

      For one, that is also disallowed. The car can show data from it’s own internal systems, but sending data streams like that would count as pit-to-car telemetry.

      For another, hearing is far less distracting than reading. As an example, the drivers have 2 feedback mechanisms to tell them when to change gear. The first is the shift lights on the wheel. The second is a set of beeps in their ear. The beeps are far more useful, as the driver can keep his eyes on the road. This is exactly the same as the reasoning behind car kits for phones including spoken words when selecting things: You can keep your attention on the road better if being spoken to.

      A real high tech solution is pit-to-car telemetry, allowing the engineers to adjust settings as needed. Unfortunately, this is not allowed.

  31. To be honest the more I read about the change, The more analysis I see & the more I think about it the less convinced I am that its going to be a good move.

    If we look at fuel, The driver will get a figure on how much he’s used but if at lap 20 he can see he’s used 30% how is he supposed to calculate if that means he’s got enough to get to the end or not & if he needs to save a bit or is able to use a bit more? On the pit walls the team can see how much is used & can calculate if thats enough to get to the end or not, The drivers won’t be able to do that anywhere near as precisely.
    This could mean drivers been more cautious with fuel, Been less willing to turn the power up to attack & could also mean drivers running out in the closing laps (As we used to see in the 80s/early 90s).

    Moving on to the tyres, Lets not forget that since Pirelli came into F1 in 2011 one of the main things we keep hearing from teams/drivers is that there incredibly hard to feel/read for the drivers because of the way they go through the degredation. One of the main reasons we saw teams start to put more tyre related sensors/Thermal cameras on the cars since 2011 (In Friday practice at least) is because of that.
    With drivers unable to get a proper feel for what the tyres are doing & now not been able to get information from the teams again I fear we could see drivers been more conservative not knowing what the wear rates are & not knowing if how there driving is enough to get to the next stop/end of race without the tyres falling off the cliff.

    There’s also other concerns such as what happens if a problem with the car comes up which is hurting driver/car performance but which could be resolved by he team telling the driver to change a setting.
    For instance what happened with Lewis at Monza at the start when he had the start mode glitch which needed to be fixed. Is he going to be stuck with the problem all race, Does he have to pit for the team to tell him how to alter the setting over the cockpit?
    I’d much rather the team be able to tell him how to fix it so he can stay in the race & be competitive which at the end of the day is better for the race & better for us fans watching.

    I also think we will now see less running through practice with drivers having to pit more often for the team to give them the information or so they can look over the data traces to see the time loss etc….

    Additionally surely divers been told where there losing time, How they can find time ends up been better for the racing & better for the viewers as if a car in 2nd is able to be told where to find time to catch the guy in 1st & that gives us a good race then again surely thats better for us watching.

    Also is it really safe for drivers to be spending more time looking down at the wheel displays?

    And finally F1 is a team sport, Yes the drivers are the one’s out there driving the cars but if the team can see from telemetry or the timing data that a driver is losing time in a specific sector/corner then for the benefit of the team why should they not be allowed to tell a driver where he’s losing time. And why should they be expected to sit back when they can see a car is going to run out of fuel, Blow a tyre, suffer a brake failure etc…

    The drivers are still the one’s driving the cars, Even when told where there losing time the drivers are still the one’s who have to go out there & put the data into practice by braking later, carrying more speed & getting on the throttle sooner. By been told he needs to brake later into turn 1 or whatever Max Chilton is not suddenly on the same level as Hamilton, Its still down to driver skill to figure out how to improve where there told they need to.

    It happens in other categories so I don’t see why it should suddenly be banned in F1, Especially Mid-season during a very tight championship fight.

    1. And regarding the comments about banning radio altogether, I’d also disagree with that.

      The team radio communications are one aspect of the coverage which I’ve always enjoyed listening to, I feel it can add a lot to the coverage at times (The Mercedes ERS issues at Montreal for example which we would have known nothing about without the radio clips).

      I’ve always felt we should be hearing more team radio, Not less. Especially now that they have the Pit Lane channel & Mobile app which both play out some extra radio messages.

    2. For sure a lot of interesting insight is going to disappear from fan’s experience, as data gets transferred to the car information system instead of being broadcast or us to hear.

  32. Why all the fuzz???,
    This is a gift for the fans! We want the drivers to figure out how to drive, not the engeneers.
    I really don’t know who made the decision to alter the rules mid-season, but frankly, that’s for the teams to cry about….

    1. NO!

      F1 is a team sport and we want to understand how they work together. Tell a driver he is slower in turn 1 than his teammate. Then we can see whether/how he can do something about it, or in ROS’s case fail to take turn 1 altogether. It gives the drivers more challenges, not less.

      1. Almost every sport is a team sport, in some sort. That doesn’t mean that every member of a team is involved in every decision during an event.
        If you ask any driver on the grid if they prefer the input from their engeneer- I’ll et they do. And why do you think? Because it makes their life easyer.
        I want my drivers be set on the ultimate tasks. The best driver should make the difference, not the best engeneer….. and it’s the same for everyone.

  33. It’s just so wrong. I would ban explicit suggestions, and that’be it. Let the teams go crazy with coded messages. Every time I hear “It’s hammer time” I get massive goosebumps on my back, and that is likely to never happen again any soon…

  34. Michael Brown (@)
    16th September 2014, 2:34

    Someone tell the FIA that we live in the year 2014. Team radio is a part of motorsport.

  35. Michael Brown (@)
    16th September 2014, 2:35

    Somebody tell the FIA that we live in the year 2014. Team radio is a part of motorsport.

  36. My concern is when there are technical issues such as an engine component which needs to be re-set or an engine sensor which needs to be overridden. Without this information the driver could lose an engine or damage an essential component. Given drivers only have five engines this year, and four for next year, preventing drivers/teams from rectifying a problem which prevents them from racing, or worse losing and engine or more seems to go agains the spirit of the competition, and the cost savings the FIA always talk about. A good example of what I’m talking about was Ricciardo in Hungry when he had an engine surge due to a faulty sensor. He was able to override the sensor with input from his engineer, and win the race. The alternative could have been a damaged engine and a retirement. Critical functions must be able to be passed onto the driver when they relate to components which are rationed.

    1. The teams can make an engine that lasts a whole season if they want. It’s all down to the last hp they want to extract. If the stakes are high- the reliability will get better. It’s the same for everyone.

  37. Clarification (!!!) from the FIA just now…..

    “Among the message types now banned – either by radio or pit board – include information about a competitor’s sector times,…..”

    “The full list is as follows:
    Message types allowed
    – Acknowledgement that a driver message has been heard.
    – Lap or sector time detail.
    – Lap time detail of a competitor.

    – Gaps to a competitor during a practice session or race.”

    ERRR??! Clarification?

    1. @bsnaylor a sector time is not a lap time

  38. By next year the cars will probably be programmed to gather the information and verbally provide it to the drivers. Nothing against talking cars in the regulations.

    1. @velocityboy That could be the way it goes – it’s the next stage up from changing gear on the beeps.

      Regardless of whether the information is provided verbally or visually though the big challenge is will be designing a system which filters the information and provides only the highlights. At the moment there are tens of engineers receiving thousands of pieces of data, they then decide based on that what, if anything, the driver needs to change.

      It won’t be possible to provide all of the information gathered to the driver and therefore a clever computer which is able to decide what to display (or say!) and when will be required to stop the driver being overwhelmed by information.

  39. I find the hysteria around this topic interesting. I believe that the FIA are taking away information from the fans, which I don’t believe to be a good thing. While I agree that tedious messages between ALO and VET at silverstone were not to everyones cup of tea, it certainly showed the passion on track, and the desire exhibited from both drivers. Post race both drivers were sheepish about the communications, as the world effectively sternly frowned upon them. I haven’t heard a similar communication from ALO or VET since, and that didn’t require an FIA rule change.
    Additionally, the fans response is interesting, some calling for total radio bans, others suggesting we’ll have talking F1 cars. Others on the other hand are thinking that because Mercedes are broadcast the most, that they have the most to lose from the ban… With or without the communications, Mercedes are still by far the fastest car on the track, and no amount of communication is going to change that fact.
    In terms of the direct competition between Hamilton and Rosberg, I think currently both drivers are using all their resources to best effect, and both will equally lose this outlet to better their performance. However, this will not stop them thinking of doing other things to increase performance, within the rules.
    So to sum up, the selected bans to radio communications will not cause the world will not cave in, nor will it result in F1 collapsing in a heap, nor will it result in drivers not trying to get the most out of their cars on the track… However, what we will lose, is the insight into what it is that drivers alter within the car, and think about while on they battle on the track.

  40. I believe that it will hurt the Mercedes Drivers the most, not because of the amount of driving instruction WE hear, but because they ALWAYS seem to have to manage problems with brake temps. I am sure that we will see more Mercedes rear brake failures during the remainder of the season. GO RICCIARDO!!

  41. Regarding the new team radio rules, to be honest I am not really fussed about the restrictions themselves, although I do think they will be hard to enforce. On the one hand I had no desire for any sort of ban before this was announced but if I had to choose one way or the other I probably would prefer it if drivers didn’t get as much coaching on how to drive the car during the race.

    My main problem with this issue is that it is another mid-season rule change from the FIA on something that has been around for quite a while.

    Apart from on matters of safety the only mid-season rule changes that should be permitted are if something was new for that season and it took the FIA a few races to understand it, this is not the case with what has been banned on team radio.

    Teams have designed their cars and developed their systems for this season in the knowledge that team radio was available to them to communicate information to the driver, for the FIA to suddenly introduce new restrictions part way through the season just isn’t right in my opinion.

    If this rule had been in place before the season teams may have decided to change the layout of the steering wheel or the information shown on the screen.

    For example a team may have thought there was no point in displaying on the steering wheel full details of fuel levels or fuel saving needed as space is limited and it would be easier to tell the driver over the radio.

    Some people have complained about the extent of what drivers are told via team radio, but drivers should use everything available to them within the rules to maximise their performance and I would expect them to want to hear every small piece or information available if it can make them go faster.

    If a driver has the opportunity to be told where he is losing time each lap of course he would want to be told about it, and I would have thought it is easier to be told of any adjustments required rather than have to rely on checking the steering wheel all the time to see if everything is okay and then have to remember the exact sequence of buttons needed to fix any problem that arises.

    There are other areas of F1 that many fans don’t like and would like to see changed but while they are allowed drivers should take advantage of them. For example would you expect drivers not to use DRS out of principle, or not to use as much of the run off as was allowed because it is something they don’t agree with?

    Do you think that if back in the “good old days” teams and drivers had the modern radios and all the data available to them that they too wouldn’t also be saying the same sort of things on radio?

  42. these rule changes are extremely stupid !!!!!!

  43. Obviously Hamilton has the most to lose because of this rule change, and not because he is any more reliant on the radio communications than his team-mate or the other competitors. It’s because Rosberg can afford to stall on the grid for 3 races and still keep the championship lead while Hamilton cannot afford to stall on the grid even once. It’s going to require perfection from Hamilton and some might say this is what is expected from a champion but it’s a hard task nonetheless.

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