Safety concerns will prevent telemetry ban – Chester

2014 F1 season

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Lotus technical director Nick Chester doubts the FIA will go as far as banning telemetry as they seek to reduce the level of assistance drivers receive from the pit wall.

The FIA announced a wide-ranging ban on team radio communications for the Singapore Grand Prix weekend but abandoned many of the planned restrictions, mostly relating to car performance.

Although the FIA now intends to ban those radio messages next year, Chester doubts they will go as far as cutting off the telemetry which gives teams the information in the first place because of safety concerns.

“I think telemetry won’t be banned,” he said. “It would be tricky to know if for example the car has a puncture or something is about to fail.”

“You would have no way of telling if the car is safe or not. To make that move would be a step backwards. In terms of the radio communications changes we will have to adapt to the FIA guidelines.”

Chester added Lotus will probably adopt the larger format steering wheel display next year, which some teams are already using, to help their drivers obtain information which they can no longer receive via the radios.

“On the positive side, you can get a lot more information to the driver with a large display and that’s very helpful with complicated cars,” he explained. “The downside is that the wheel will be heavier, which is one of the considerations for staying with the smaller display.”

“Next year we will likely go for a larger display steering wheel. You would be at a disadvantage if you stayed with the smaller display with the radio communications changes planned for 2015.”

He also revealed Lotus are planning big changes for their E23 chassis which will race this year. Amid rumours the team will switch from using Renault to Mercedes power units, Chester confirmed “our engine installation and cooling layout will change quite a lot meaning that the car will be significantly different under the bodywork”.

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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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31 comments on “Safety concerns will prevent telemetry ban – Chester”

  1. Now it’s the new trend? Ban technology in F1? Seems to me “war on tech” is Bernie’s new gospel so don’t get too excited Mr. Chester because large steering wheels will be his next target.

    1. @jcost
      There’s nothing new about it, the FIA have been banning technology for decades, and thank whatever God you believe in that they have as F1 would have died long ago if they hadn’t.

      If the teams had their way F1 cars would have automatic gears, traction control, stability control and a whole load of other technology that would mean anyone could drive them.

      1. F-22 fighter aircraft has whole load of technology. But I don’t think anyone could flight it easily.

    2. There’s nothing wrong with the “war on tech”. Technology, electronics especially, is clearly not adding anything to the appeal of motorsport where the human factor should still reign supreme.

      1. There’s a difference between technology such as driver aids & technology such as telemetry & some of the other systems they have on the cars now.

        Additionally to a lot of people the technology aspect is something they enjoy about F1 & a key reason they prefer F1 over many of the other categories out there. Its true you don’t want technology to go too far, Especially with regards to driver aids but there should continue to be an element of technology in F1.

        I would also suggest that banning the radio messages, banning telemetry & making the cars more challenging to drive (Which will inevitably also make them slower) will not bring people back to F1 because none of those things are the reason many have been turning F1 off over the past few years.

      2. Appeal? This is motorSPORT, not a reality show.

  2. Didn’t schumi experiment with a head up display projected onto the inside of his visor for a while? Is that still allowed. If so it may become useful in the absence of team radio.

    1. only the shift lights, but it was too much of a distraction i think it was in the late 90s or so

  3. I’m looking forward to the first team to opt for an in visor head up display. There are some really impressive startups doing HUDs for all sorts of industries, such as Areo Glass for pilots ( Motorsport is an obvious candidate.

    1. That would actually be really cool if TV viewers could actually see the HUD.

    2. Stuff like that has been tested in both F1 & Indycar a couple times over the past 20 years.

      Penske did a lot of testing at Indianapolis back around 1994/95 & Williams did even more testing with Hud’s on the visor in 2002/2003. Been more teams that have done some work with Hud’s in both categories in that time as well.

  4. It would seem a good solution for the drivers if it’s allowed. The only problem with them all driving around in augmented reality is we won’t be able to see any of it, unlike hearing the radio feeds

  5. Nick Chester and more importantly Alan Permaine will lead Lotus to ruin. Even with the Mercedes engine the car should suffer from elementary flaws. Lotus needs not only money but a staff refresh, thankfully Permain no longer works on the cars but manages the team.

    1. There is no much left to ruin, the only way is up ;-)
      I don’t share your opinion about Alan because he did a great job trough the couple of last seasons. When it comes to Nick I think he is a very good engineer. Very experienced as well. He proved himself in various rolles of car’s development. However he seems to be perplexed by the pressure of challanges specific to the role of technical director, his body language is kind of: ‘what the … I’m doing here…?!’ He’s obviously lacking the ability to embrace the huge knowledge of the engineering squad and direct it by profound understanding of technical issues they’re facing. He’s not to blame because it’s a gift posesed by verry few – Newey, Brawn, Bell… However, I find it very odd when it comes to their comments about power unit choice for the next year. Maybe they’re having a hard time deciding about staying with Renault for one more season before they switch to Honda in 2016 and the other option – using Mercedes power unit for a single season before they switch to Honda. Not an easy choice indeed.

  6. So this mean they are indeed ditching Renault!!

  7. Although I also think that Lotus will most likely switch the engine supplier, Chester’s confirmation of a big change of installation and cooling layout would most likely occur too even if they stay with Renault, IMO.

  8. You would have no way of telling if the car is safe or not.

    Is Pastor Maldonado in the car? Then it’s not safe.

  9. telemetry ban WILL NOT make things less safe, teams will just have to make their machinery work safer to avoid having to make telemetry data transmissions to the driver – look at motogo and other series.

    1. If you read the details of the regulations that the FIM produces, the MotoGP bikes actually have extremely liberal regulations on data logging.

      In fact, the Open class regulations, which uses an FIM specified ECU, actually explicitly states that telemetry is compulsory to ensure that the engines are being operated in the correct way: d) Datalogging of certain specified “maintenance” channels on the internal datalogger is compulsory, in order for the supplier to check for correct operation (no confidential team data will be included). To achieve this, an approved ECU data download connector is compulsory (refer to Table 8 in the Appendix).

      So long as you are not modifying the ECU hardware or software, you can essentially run whatever sensors you like.

      1. FIM. Is that the unholy stepchild of FIA and FOM? 😀

        1. It’s the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, or the motorcyclists version of the FIA.

          Still, the principles of telemetry are hardly new and are actually used a lot more extensively in series such as MotoGP than most realise.
          The use of telemetry systems in motorsport is also a lot older than most think – Jim Clark tested out cars equipped with early telemetry systems back in 1963, and even some relatively small teams in F1 were already routinely running telemetry systems in testing back in the 1970’s.

    2. So you don’t think that teams been unable to monitor/inform the driver about tyre pressures/punctures or brake wear is less safe?

      But I guess for many fans tyres exploding, Cars crashing big time with brake & other failures is more entertaining.

  10. At what point will more and more information and settings on the steering wheel introduce safety concerns? I think a voice in your ear would be less distracting than having to glance down often – especially if you need to press a button to change the display mode. If the pertinent information is only needed once a lap then I guess you’d take that glance on a long straight but if you need it while approaching a braking point…

  11. I think this whole recent push to take radios, telemetry & other technical stuff away from F1 is a complete & utter joke!

    F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of open wheel/single seater racing in terms of performance & technology yet there taking stuff away which is basically turning F1 into a series below not just other top-tier series like Indycar but also below some of the junior formula.

    There are no radio restrictions in any other category so F1 is already below everything else there.
    If F1 bans telemetry this will be another area where F1 will be below everything else & equally importantly a big chunk of information no longer available to fans as we currently get telemetry data on the main Tv feed & in-car channel.

    There now talking about doing things to make the cars more of a challenge which while good in theory stands to make F1 slower which could put it below things like Indycar in terms of outright performance, Is this really where we want F1 to go?

    I am not calling for tech like traction control, abs, auto gears etc. to be introduced but the technology we have like the radio, telemetry & such should remain as they have been & should remain something we get on the Tv feeds as they both add a lot to the coverage.

    The people who don’t want this sort of technology should perhaps go & watch historical racing or something as F1 as well as modern hi-tech racing in general is clearly not for them.

    1. All the changes they have made for ‘The show’ in the past 3-4 years (DRS, Pirelli tyres, radio restrictions etc.) has done nothing but reduce F1’s popularity around the world, These other proposals will just continue the downward trend.

      They need to take F1 back up a step, Ban DRS, Allow a tyre-war or at least open up tyre regulations to allow teams full & open tyre strategies & go back to been a sport with proper racing in it instead of the artificial, Gimmick ‘show’ we have now.

      1. Compulsory use of both compounds should go, it’s not so necessary now the tyres have become more reliable.

  12. Banning telemetry would backfire. If you take managing and monitoring technology away from the teams and engine manufacturers then it means they have to bring less advanced but more proven technology to their cars. It will be hard for manufacturers who emphasis motorsport as a development platform, to make the case why they should remain in F1. It would be 1 more thing they can’t do there what they can do in other series.

  13. I think that the telemetry should go the other way. Why can’t teams have control over certain aspects of the car, and reduce the complexity of driving the car. The regulations will have a list of variables that the driver alone must control, and the rest can be controlled by the pitwall. This would allow the cars to become more complex, and open up new opportunities for variable components.

    The pitwall can control things like engine parameters (including the ability to control individual things like mix, boost, valve timing, throttle maps, gearbox settings)

    The driver would still have to control the usual car control stuff (steering, throttle, brake, clutch and gear shift) as well as a couple of things that are dependent on feel (brake bias) for example.

    The division of labour would allow new levels of control. The team might be able to finely tune suspension settings on the fly, and the driver may be given control over a more complicated active aero system.

    The use of the radio to verbally communicate desired settings to the driver to manually adjust is an outdated concept.

  14. I agree with COTD to be honest.

    The introduction of DRS has lessened the need for drivers to be aggressive & really go for an overtaking move as we used to see from drivers like Kamui Kobayashi, Juan Montoya, Lewis Hamilton & others.

    You compare Hamilton coming up behind Kimi Raikkonen at Monza in 2007 & throwing it up the inside brakes locked for 2nd place to how he came up behind Vettel, Pushed his DRS button & got by without any issue & it just makes me depressed at how the excitement overtaking moves used to generate has for the most part gone.
    No overtake for the lead should ever be as easy as many have been in the DRS times.

  15. The only problem I see is: people older than 65 trying to force pinnacle of the motorsport back to the sixties. Consequently the only good measure would be to ban people older than 65 to make decisions about the future of F1.

    1. I fear they’re actually listening to the nostalgia blind fans.

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