FIA makes last-minute cuts to radio message ban

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

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The FIA has drastically reduced the scope of its ban on team radio messages just hours before it was due to come into force.

Formula One drivers will continue to receive information about how to adjust their car’s settings, which had formed a significant part of the FIA’s intended clamp down on radio communications.

However the FIA still intends to enforce a restriction on driving advice being given over the radio this weekend. The sport’s governing body has given further details about which messages will be outlawed as of today’s first practice session in Singapore.

The FIA has postponed a ban on messages relating to the adjustment of power unit settings, the car’s state of charge, clutch maps, brake-by-wire settings, differential settings, start modes, fuel saving and other technical parameters will remain legal. Such messages were frequently used by teams in previous races.

The forbidden messages include those relating to:

  • Driving lines on the circuit
  • Contact with kerbs
  • Car set up parameters for specific corners
  • Comparative or absolute sector time detail of another driver
  • Speeds in corners compared to another driver
  • Gear selection compared with another driver
  • Gear selection in general
  • Braking points
  • Rate of braking compared to another driver
  • Rate of braking or application of brakes in general
  • Car stability under braking
  • Throttle application compared to another driver
  • Throttle application in general
  • Use of DRS compared with another driver
  • Use of any overtake button
  • Driving technique in general

The FIA now intends to introduce a ban on messages relating relating to car performance from next season.

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Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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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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73 comments on “FIA makes last-minute cuts to radio message ban”

  1. That’s much more like it

    1. The sport is going absolutely nowhere, it’s getting extremely complicated to follow even for a fan aware of latest news. They, the FIA, constantly change the rules in the middle of the season, in a middle of the night even.

      What should I think about my passion..?

      1. I’m with you. I’ve been following F1 since 88 and I never thought that I could get tired of it but I’ve to admit that my interest is on an all time low.

        1. +1 essentially you’re telling a group of adults what they can and can’t say or you’ll get in trouble. It’s not a playground!

          1. Have you not been watching the racing this year? i am getting so fed up with people dissing the sport. When Schumacher was dominating and the racing was awful where you moaning then?

            I agree with the radio ban, in my opinion it should be banned completely, and only using pitboards but i understanding the reasons behind this not happening.

          2. @Jose B

            It has absolutely nothing to do with that. Yes the racing has improved, but like the above my patience is wearing incrediably thin with the sport as a whole.

            There are so many stakeholders with so many vested interests in the sport that its simply getting stupid:

            – CVCs presence in the sport is to derive a profit
            – Bernie is there to serve CVCs best interests
            – Car manufacturers are there to develop techonology to pass onto their road cars and also get great marketing out of participating in the sport
            – FIA is there to facilitate the racing, improve safety in the racing which in turn can be transferred to safety with road cars.

            That is all well and good, but lets not forget that this is a sport. There are 23 drivers and 11 teams that show up on a set date simply to win. From a fans perspective thats all we really care about.

            Its at the point where its a poorly constructed soap drama, with a race to focus on from time to time.

          3. jose b – The problem with the MSC/FER years wasn’t even the domination, as boring as that could be (this is coming from an MSC fan), it was the FIA relationship with FER and then the crazy rule changes to try to stop FER after it went on “too long.” Single set of tires, points system changes..

            This is not the same as saying remove X points of downforce for next season, which is how all major rule changes should be. This is saying, you know that basic technology you all use and which the FIA uses in the feed to spice up the show, yeah, you can’t use it in a sensible way any more.

            It’s like saying the drivers can only use the brakes to 50% of their stopping power, why? And in that odd example, the change would be to implement new braking restrictions (in terms of material, size, etc) to take effect the following season.

            In this instance, even that doesn’t work because the radio can’t be pared back. I would have thought the FIA learned this with the team orders ban/unban fiasco. You either ban radio or everything is allowed. You can’t do the former. So go look at actual problems (closer racing, reduced cost of viewing/attending races, online HD streaming for a reasonable fee), instead of making ones up that don’t make sense and disrupt the season.

    2. @pking008 if you mean this is much more like it, an organization making a fool of themselves, then yeah.

      Not only they make knee-jerk decisions mid-season, they make knee-jerk decisions over decisions.

    3. Give the driver a car, make him drive it himself with absolutely no outside help apart from pit boards.
      Throw the car to pit radios away, they should be able to drive the car, they are supposed to be professionals and not puppets

    4. +1000
      Just should not have been mid-season.

  2. News just in: FIA still not realised that tinkering mid season annoys teams and fans.

  3. Gear selection in general

    I hope it means drivers won’t hear those “beeps”.

    1. @f1mre I don’t see why that would be affected. A car automatically playing an audio tone to a driver is not a radio message.

      1. “20.1 The driver must drive the car alone and unaided.”

        Beeps are definitely an aid.

        1. I think the point here is the car makes the beebs. They could have put the beebs on the display, but it was more convenient to make a audio signal.

          The beebs have nothing to do with radio at all.

        2. What about the gear change lights then? It’s the same…. Or any kind info on the dashboard..

        3. @proesterchen I know what the rule says, we’re talking about what the clarification says. The beeps have not previously been forbidden under the rules and there’s nothing in the clarification which indicates that’s about to change.

          1. What I’m saying is that all cars on the grid are illegal, the rules are written to be abused, and the licensing body has just shown (again) to be fully capable and willing to turn on a dime and do just that.

            In other words, this “sport” might as well be wrestling.

        4. Agreed @proesterchen, but that’s for another day by the sound of it. It sounds like Bernie is going to go after ‘driver aids’ next anyway. Hard to draw a line, with all the information that ‘aids’ the driver, from revs onwards, coloured lights… but no doubt he’ll draw it controversially.

          1. I can’t believe they even allow the drivers to use a steering wheel as an aid for getting round the corners. They should have to reach out and turn the from wheels manually!
            Of course that’s silly, but the point is you have to draw the line somewhere, and don’t forget that they’re always keen show that there’s relevance to technology in cars.

          2. What about the street lights……Now thats a drivers aid if I have ever seen one.

        5. @proesterchen Unaided means not aided by another person.

        6. So we should get rid of the speedometer, any screens showing fuel, current gear, heck, even kerbs on the side of the road.

          1. Don’t forget the steering wheel and brakes, they are definitely driver aids.

        7. Define aid.

          If those beeps are an aid, then even the engine noise is an aid, because you can use the tone to know when to shift to the next gear. So they should ban engine noises.

          1. I thought, with the switch to this year’s turbo V6s, they had?

  4. This is a joke, right. We all know the FIA never do anything that makes sense to normal people.

  5. Good start…

  6. Under the original ban I estimated 27 of the 74 radio messages during the Italian Grand Prix (36.5%) would have been forbidden.

    Under the new limits I believe that has fallen to just 9 (12.2%): For reference it looks like messages on laps 6, 13, 15 (two), 18, 33, 37, 42 and 48 would have been illegal. These are mostly about engine overtaking modes and driving style.

    This gives some indication of how big a climbdown this is by the FIA – the vast majority of team radio messages that were broadcast during the last race will be legal this weekend.

    1. It would be interesting to see how many of the messages not broadcasted would remain legal. I wonder if instructional messages (i.e. the ones the FIA is banning) are deemed less interesting by FOM and are therefore not broadcast in the first place? It could mean that the total impact of the ban would be higher than what we currently assume given the data you have.

      1. I would think the routine messages like modes and temperatures are even less interesting as most of the time they won’t have a clear consequence on strategy or pace.

        Not that the percentage of messages is necessarily a particularly useful measure of the impact of the ban.

    2. @keithcollantine, I think this is about right, although I am a little disappointed with the inclusion of differential settings being allowed as I feel this is something the driver should decide for himself, but I see no reason why the engineers should not alert a driver to a potential problem eg.”You have high temperatures on rear brakes” the solution should then be left to the driver.

  7. Typical. Just another epsiode ion the long list.

    F1 is very good at making a mockery out of itself. Although this is right (or better) decision, its just stupid how F1 goes about its business, its always so hap hazard.

  8. This is what they should have focused on instead of the earlier stupid directive.
    They should stop listening to those old drivers who drove very fast bicycles, these recent cars are a quantum leap from the 70s era cars.
    ERS alone and all the sub systems associated with the deployment is a nightmare for even the engineers who designed them, and they want the drivers to suddenly be able to troubleshoot any problem that occcurs.

    1. Oh boo hoo. I’m perfectly ok with drivers needing to troubleshoot problems, and forcing the engineers to provide a package simple enough to get the job done. It’s not impossible by any stretch.

      1. @tigen, that is a very good point, the cars should not need a support team of dozens of engineers in order to race for for 90/100 minutes, but it is not something that can happen overnight, next year it should be made to happen.

  9. The FIA really don’t come across as a very effective and suitable organisation for governing Formula 1 when they constantly introduce rules which end up being revoked when they realise how impractical and ridiculous their very own decisions are.

    1. @willwood The problem with it is this was introduced by Bernie via the Strategy Group – he steamed in, bold as brass from his ‘court victory’ and wanted to effect some sort of change to be seen as ‘in control’.
      He managed to talk some of the teams around, likely those with the PCU8 on their steering wheels into supporting him and as a result the FIA had to throw some regs together in short notice because they were essentially outnumbered.

      1. Hm, you are probably right there @optimaximal, although when you take all of that together, it rather confirmes what @willwood wrote about the FIA not being very effective at governing F1 if they can’t do as they see fit and in the best interest of the sport without this kind of thing.

      2. Was it Bernie himself, or did this originate with his friend Flavio, whom Bernie has brought back to spice up the sport after his ban for the way he did it last time.

    2. @willwood Those more sympathetic to the FIA might paint this as being what they intended to happen all along – press for a wide-ranging ban, then respond to the predictable opposition from teams by trimming it back to a ban on just few elements that matter the most, i.e the driver instructions.

      I don’t buy this, however. Clearly the FIA wanted the wide-ranging ban to begin with, as evidenced by the fact it’s still intended for introduction in 2015.

      1. Surely the FIA must realise the gigantic headache they have created for themselves to actually enforce this?

        1. Have you met/observed the FIA before?

          Of course they didn’t.

  10. Good news indeed but what an absolutely disgraceful farce by the governing body. All this should have been discussed and decided behind closed doors. Upon the consultation reaching similar conclusions to what we have now, only then announce it to the world at large.

    Or could what has transpired be described as a totally transparent process? Fair warning would go a long way towards removing this feeling of a lack of consistency and a lack of strong leadership.

  11. Still silly.

  12. It’s Bernie isn’t it? Todt has taken a back seat so now Charlie just does whatever Bernie says, and Bernie’s agenda is controversy, change, drama.

    Airtime, column inches, clicks. Certainly not boring, predictable good governance.

    1. Bernie introduced this via the Strategy Group that he convinced Todt to agree to. The FIA were forced to implement the rules on short notice.

      1. Yeah @optimaximal but the whole strategy group thing is a setup. Who represents the FIA on it? Charlie is Bernie’s man. Then Bernie only needs 3 of his tame teams anyway, because he only gave them one collective vote. One vaguely worded motion, job done.

        It’s pretty clear the teams weren’t really consulted at all. But at the end of the day they know they benefit from the evil genius’ cunning machinations :)

  13. Is this what is meant by “a sudden outbreak of common sense”?

    In the spirit of positive reinforcement: Well done FIA! Now, about the super-duper-double-whammy-bonus-points thing in Abu Dhabi….

    1. @jimg you mean all the half-point races leading up to the abu dhabi?

      I wonder how much oil they had to sell to buy 25 points from all the other races

  14. lol – FIA cover themselves in glory yet again.

  15. I wonder how these farcical mid season rule reinterpretations come about. First FRIC and now radio ban. Would that be based on a team protest or just someone in FIA suddenly feeling a knee jerk?

    Or would it be a result from a FIA brain storming session on how they think they could hinder Mercedes in their domination in order to “improve the show”?

  16. I see quite a lot of negative comments about this decision, which I really don’t understand – the FIA came to sense (even if after advice from the teams) for once(?), that’s a good thing, we should be glad about it. And the change now from the last race is what most people wanted and also not something technical mid-season. So please don’t be so negative about it when they did something right.

    1. I can’t find myself relieved because it’s just the same spiel again:

      (a) put forward / implement / force insufferable change
      (b) let everyone complain
      (c) climb down a tiny bit from the extra-stupid and plain unworkable ideas you put forward in (a) just for that very pupose

      It gets old, and I decline to get excited about (c) because the state of affairs after (c) is always worse than before (a).

      1. @proesterchen, but obviously it’s a lot easier than wasting a lot of time consulting the teams and thinking about potential problems. ;-)

  17. Common sense prevails, I think this is a workable compromise that doesn’t detract from the show.

    I will be disappointed if it changes much for next year, the cars will still be prototypes and technically complex. The drivers drive, the engineers went to college to learn how to look after the whirly bits. Having that combination and making it work effectively is a dimension that separates F1 from other formula.

  18. petebaldwin (@)
    19th September 2014, 9:40

    This is fair. I hate the idea of major changes being made and the initial ban would have resulted in huge changes to make in a very short space of time.

    The new rules will be effective in removing specific driving advice but allows teams and drivers time to learn how to best manage the cars going forward next season.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      19th September 2014, 9:41

      ….meant to say I hate the idea of major changes being made mid-season.

  19. Until I saw it explicitly in the list here, I hadn’t thought as far as the overtake button. I’ve grown tired of the engine micromanagement that we’ve been seeing with drivers being “given permission” to press the overtake.

    We might see a few more engine blow-ups if drivers’ sense of when, and how often, to press the overtake button is a little less conservative than those staring at the telemetry. However, I think that the occasional smoky engine as a result of over-exuberant use of the overtake may add another interesting dimension to the engine restriction & management game.

    1. Chances are exuberant drivers would produce hunks of toxic waste rather than blown engines. So yeah for environmental consciousness!

  20. I can live with that. It was more urgent to stop driving the drivers(if you’d excuse the pun ) from the pits like puppets. So as long as they do implement the full clampdown from the start of 2015, it’s a good decision. Changing the technical goalposts mid-season is never a good thing. Those messages that are still gonna be banned are those that should’ve been banned years ago, let alone yesterday

  21. Do the people running the sport actually have any idea what they’re doing. They’ve come up with a radio ban between two race weekends and on the morning of the first practice session they’ve decided to change the limits of the radio ban. Teams should have a little more time to prepare for such a big rule change, especially when its in the middle of the season.

  22. A little bit better except use of the overtake button. Something happen to Sebs car in Austria because he used overtake, the team then reacted and told Daniel not to use overtake, if he had he would have likely had the same problem as Seb. I feel that if an issue can occur because of using the overtake button then the team should warn the driver not to use it. However if its working fine and there are no issues then they should not be able to tell them where to use it.

  23. I find it amazing how we have progressed so little in F1 as far as rulemaking and governing goes. This isn’t the 70s anymore, but the FIA, FOM and Bernie don’t care.

    Unimaginable corporations need corporate governance, but apparently, F1 can just run amok.

    If the racing dives back to 2002/2004 levels of boredom and the institutions keep flailing like this, I’m out.

  24. Jonathan Sarginson
    19th September 2014, 10:55

    …seems to me that the WEC is taking over at the forefront of motorsport..their live web site and information broadcasts in particular, and, of course, the much more liberal rules as to engine and hybrid systems…It would be interesting to know their limits (if any) to pit to car radio…roll on Texas this weekend…show Bernie how it really should be done…

  25. Don’t really see why everyone’s getting their unmentionables in a bunch over this. Scaling back in-race driver management from the pitwall is a good thing, no matter which way you slice it. So they’ve tweaked a rule overnight – what you’ve never seen the FIA in action before?

    1. I think we have all seen the FIA at it’s best/worse before. But tinkering with the interpretation of the rules at this stage looks a bit like amending the offside rule as the players are running onto the field.
      Sometimes I wonder if sometimes they deliberately do things badly, so that we will all applaud loudly when they do something well!

  26. The forbidden messages include those relating to:

    Driving lines on the circuit
    Contact with kerbs

    Am I reading this correctly; if an engineer says “Stay off the kerbs” that’s illegal?

  27. Jonathan Sarginson
    19th September 2014, 13:57

    …so why is F1 in such a mess right now, whilst WEC is going from good to better?..they are both run by the FIA…but, oh I forgot, the FIA doesn’t run F1…Bernie does!…

  28. I expressed my opinion on this via the Twittersphere.

  29. This is becoming a joke. How are they doing to enforce this? What are the drivers and engineers going to talk about during a race? Details from last night’s dinner? Living room decoration? Last trends in footwear? The NO vote in Scotland?
    Or you let the radio channels go or you close them, but to distribute a list of what you CAN’T say is just silly. Are we going to be pestered again with coded messages every race? “OK, Kimi, for lunch the pizza needs to stay two more seconds in the oven at 250 degrees, capisce?, but the beer will come with TWO olives in it so you can drink it with your left hand?”
    What a joke.

  30. I’ve commented a couple of times in the past that I thought that F1 was no longer a single-driver formula but instead had evolved into one onboard driver with a committee of pit-wall co-drivers. I think the simplest solution to this ‘problem’ is to drastically reduce the flow of information from the car to the pits. If there’s no information the team can’t coach the drivers on how to improve their lap times. I would also have thought it a much simpler problem to enforce a limited flow of information from the car via pre-race checks than to attempt real-time monitoring of radio communications.

  31. F1 has always been full of “ridiculous” regulations, that’s a fact. And much of its rapid development has come from the teams trying to overcome those obstacles. Are you really gonna believe that the teams and the drivers are gonna stay with their arms down. Also, it is bad to have this mid-season changes, but look at what what happened with the FRIC suspension ban… do you notice any slowdown?? Or are we in fact watching the most exciting F1 season in decades??

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