Christian Horner, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

F1 may have “gone too far” with radio ban – Horner

2016 F1 season

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is concerned the sport may have “gone too far” with its clampdown on radio communications.

Speaking in today’s team principals’ press conference Horner warned F1 risked losing the entertainment value of team radio discussions.

“I think it’s going to be a bit of a voyage of discovery,” he said. “I hope we haven’t gone too far on the radio stuff because that’s taking away an element of dialogue between the race engineer and the driver and some of that for the fans from behind the scenes can be quite entertaining and some of it X-rated.”

Teams have been given a list of approved radio message types in a bid to reduce the amount of ‘coaching’ which goes on during races. However Horner warned it might have unforeseen consequences.

“I think out of well intention sometimes we don’t think through the consequences,” he said. “The intention of restricting the radio is that the drivers need to drive the car. And I don’t think anybody enjoys hearing a driver to be told how to operate his car.”

“I think the problem we have is the complexity of these cars is so great now, the assistance that is required from the pit wall and behind the scenes is very different to Formula One of even three, four years ago. And it’s finding that line: Is it right to help the driver find clear space in traffic? Or to pit now, and so on?”

Horner added that some of the more revealing dialogue does not involve the drivers.

“I think there’s entertainment through the radio and I think what’s fascinating is to hear these guys communicating at the speeds they’re achieving and the heat of the battle. That radio content can produce good entertainment behind the scenes for the fans.”

“The bit you should really hear is the intercom because there’s a far more interesting discussion going on on the pit wall on the intercom than there is on the radio. We, for sure, would love to hear the Mercedes intercom.”

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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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  • 50 comments on “F1 may have “gone too far” with radio ban – Horner”

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      18th March 2016, 8:47

      ““I think out of well intention sometimes we don’t think through the consequences,”

      This guy must be Sherlock Holmes, no?

      1. Hornlock Holmes a Legend.

        This is another typical F1 rule, any benefit teams will work a procedure to bypass the rule… Any real result will be nullified… What remains is a cumbersome rule, making teams spend more money for same end result.

      2. Fans complained a lot saying Mercedes were ‘coaching’ their drivers. They often said ‘Let them race’.
        What they did not consider, as I have come to realise in our age of social media and outbursts, is that ‘coaching’ and team radio has been a vital and informative part of F1 for a long time. Every team does it, not just Mercedes.
        The quick attempt to curtail Merceses has unfortunately led to teams, the sport authorities and unfortunately fans coming up with and accepting ridiculous rules and decisions which sounds good when initially proposed but on a closer look is in fact detrimental to the health of the sport.
        It was indeed weird to watch 3 hours of 1st and 2nd practise sessions this morning with less than 3 radio comms broadcast.
        I can’t say exactly how the new raft of rules will affect Horner and Co but as a fan, it deadens the sport to me. Radio comms -especially the ‘coaching’ ones- helped me to understand a lot more what goes on behind just the screen. It increased the excitement of the sport as it made me see who was in trouble or not and what decisions were being made.
        Without the necessary comms, I might as well watch the cars run around, kill my TV volume, and then wait for something to happen. That my friends is akin to watching paint dry.

    2. I agree with Horner. If team radio is so evil then simply get rid of it completely but these restrictions are getting ridiculous. I do not know if I am looking forward to team radio transcripts if they will consist of lame messages, drivers’ complaints and ‘sorry, can’t tell you anything mate’. Horner is also right by saying that the current cars are much more complicated than they used to be so it is reasonable to give drivers some advice. The teams had obviously gone too far by regularly telling their drivers what lines they should take but now we are probably at the opposite extreme. I do not think it will make the racing better.

      1. This is exactly why this team radio ban will ultimately fail. They either need to ban team radio altogether or allow it freely. All these regulations about what can and cannot be said are completely pointless because teams will always find code words to compensate.

        This ban will probably end up just like the team orders ban from 2002 to 2010. It was completely impractical, vague, and ultimately failed.

    3. Blimey.. You might be on to something here Christian.

      This kind of thing only happens in F1.

      Here’s a thought.. Just ban radio all together, how about that? Only allowed in the pits and during emergencies.

      1. Honestly, I’d be up for that.

      2. I had the same thought.

      3. Let’s ban the engineers too. And computers. And make the drivers change their own tires.

        After all, this is supposed to be the pinnacle of motor racing, and that shouldn’t involve technology, right? Or a team, for that matter… just a driver and a really fast car. All that teamwork and technology crap has no place in racing!

    4. So, the restrictions on radio is too far but the new qualifying format is fine? I think that qualifying was fine… now it’s too far…

    5. I don’t see why there is a fuss over the ban. The list of permitted messages contain all that are required to run a race, starting from info about one’s own laptime to competitors as well.

      They are to inform of any failure that might be disastrous to the driver and also of oil/wet patches on the track.

      They also inform about any penalties etc. Seems like Multi-21 is also allowed.

      What exactly is banned? Other than the hand holding of the drivers that was done in the past?

      1. Agree. All the essentials to race are covered , in fact, quite a bit of information regarding competitor tyre stints are available as well. I think the main thing they have banned is coaching the driver on driving style, which I’m glad has been banned.

      2. Mhmm, totally agree.

        People in these comments are hilarious, the partial ban is ridiculous, but they’re calling for radio to be banned altogether as a better solution? People really are (and I’m sorry to say it) dumb.

        1. Michael Brown
          18th March 2016, 12:59

          Well the 70’s were great so let’s go back to them. I’ve heard people arguing for the H shifter to come back as well. Who cares if it’s slower?

          1. I think they should require the engineer to ride in the car with the driver.

            Also, go back to chain drive and full-loss lubrication systems.

      3. Strategy messages are banned. Some of the most interesting races recently have been when a team and driver have come up with a new strategy on the fly, during the race (instead of sticking to Plan A or B chosen before the race).

        This can only happen now if the team decide to change strategy and tells the driver to pit early and then possibly also give the driver different tyres to those he was expecting. They can’t discuss this with the driver, they can’t tell him about his own strategy, or about a rival’s strategy. If the driver wants to consider changing strategy himself he can’t obtain any information from his team about a rival’s tyre choices, stint lengths etc, as they are not allowed to tell him, the result will be him having too little information to make a decision of his own.

        How is this putting decisions in the hands of the driver? It removes the driver from the decision making loop, and will result in the team dictating any change of strategy to the driver. I expect to see drivers having to stick to their pre arranged race plans far more than before, with any in race strategy changes mostly being the result of drivers blindly following the teams instructions in to which they have had no input.

        1. “‘Push hard’, ‘push now’, ‘you will be racing xx’, ‘take it easy’ or similar (you are reminded about suspected use of coded messages when giving these messages or any words of encouragement).”

          I am not sure but this looks like planning a strategy to me. Although the sentence inside the brackets confuses me. If one can be told when to enter the pits and if one needs to push or ease etc, then doesn’t it constitute as strategy planning.

          The only thing that we might not see is the Mercedes drivers squabbling over whether both are on the same strategy. That is a welcome relief IMO.

          1. Actually, picture races where the conditions are mixed, and the driver and the engineer are discussing tire strategies (Australia 2010, Canada 2011, Silverstone 2015, to pick three random ones)… And forget it, because that’s banned under the new rules.

            1. Well, now it’s up to the driver to gamble and try to judge what will be the best strategy during the race without relying on 20 engineers running all kind of algorithms to determine the prime strategy. I think this might show how clever the drivers are, and also this might add more of a gamble factor during the races. Getting rid of these radio messages + coaching the drivers to short shift the 3rd gear on turns 8 and 9 doesn’t detract the racing experience to me! We haven’t banned the interesting radio messages. On the other hand, I’m only concerned on how this will be implemented, it looks over complicated.

          2. @evered7 Strategy messages that are now banned:

            Tyre choice at the next pit stop.
            Number of laps a competitor has done on a set of tyres during a race.
            Tyre specification of a competitors.
            Information concerning a competitors’ likely race strategy.


            How does banning these messages improve the racing, or help a driver to make their own decisions? It puts the control of all strategy in the hands of the team. The driver could make a suggestion (“think about doing X”), or give feedback on tyre performance (“I can extend the stint” or “I preferred X tyres”) but his engineer can not then discuss the possible options with him, so the team will have to make the choice for the driver as the driver does not have all the information required to do so. All that they can do is tell a driver to pit or to stay out.

    6. I saw an interview Vettel did on Wednesday and he was absolutely spot on. Compared to the 80’s or 90’s you hear more radio communications about how the driver should operate the car, but that is because (a) the cars are way more complex now and need more input and adjustments to keep them running and (b) the teams have better communication tools open to them.

      I personally don’t care if the driver is told to switch to “strat mode 3” or “Yellow G7” and I don’t see that as “coaching”. I did mind drivers being told on track “brake 5m later into turn 4 because your team mate is”, because the drivers have data to look at in the pits to tell them how to do that.

      The new rules are typical of what comes out of the FIA lawmakers, heavy handed and misguided.

    7. Use the pit boards you know like they used to for many years.

      1. There is nothing teams are allowed to write on a pit board that they aren’t allowed to say on the radio, and vice versa.

        1. There is a rule that you are restricted on what can be put on pit boards?

          1. Indeed there is..
            A. Restrictions on team-to-driver communications: These restrictions will apply:

            – To all communications to the driver including, but not limited to, radio and *pit boards*.

            1. Wow that’s daft, rules out smoke signals and personal mobiles.

              Moto GP are allowed pit boards, all race cars have had pit boards for info.

    8. The core issue is indeed the complexity of this formula. Not just the engines, but the tires play into this for a huge part. If F1 wants to have that divide between driver and team when racing, we need to rethink what F1 is all about. The underlying problem being that the best driver is fast becoming the one who can manage the complexity of the car, rather than who is the fastest. The FIA is more concerned about hiding the messages between teams and drivers, than addressing the underlying issue of having created an over-complicated formula where this type of communication has become critical. People are not sick of the radio communication in general. It has much more to do with the underlying reasons as to why these messages are sent out in the first place, it is no longer real racing if the driver is powerless to really control the car when needed. And people complained about active suspension… Seems archaic compared to today’s cars for all the wrong reasons.

      1. It used to be about who could manage the reliability of the car as well as being fast so I see no difference, F1 is more multifaceted than just a driver with tunnel vision hammering out qualifying laps for a whole race. What does F1 stand for….Different things to different people so sometimes some people are happy other times they are not. There will always be people who are unhappy and they will be heard more than those who are content so all the time the perception of an issue is created. Off track I think most agree the money distribution is dodgy.

        1. I completely agree with you, but having to manage en engine which can not be used to 100% at all, or tires which cannot be used for 100% at all, is handicapping the drivers in a way which has never been the case. Even back in the 70s and 80s, one driver could go tunnel-vision, whilst another could preserve the car to see where they would end up. They had the material to do it, but it was up to the driver to decide how to handle the equipment. Nowadays, everyone has to preserve the cars regardless of the potential the car might have, so there is no difference in driving styles or overall driving strategies anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I think managing the car is a vital asset to the quality of a driver (Prost comes to mind), but I believe that these cars are over complex, and that management of the car is now in the wrong areas. As a driver you are forced to coast the engine for 40% of the time, save the tires at all times, which for a sprint-race format should never be the case, UNLESS you have been overusing the material in previous moments. The balance between risk/reward is no longer focused in the right area imo, as the playing field has been handicapped by the technology being so complicated. I think the multifaceted assets of F1 would be stronger, if the cars were not so limiting in the way they utilize their potential. Think about it, back in the mid 80s we had quali tires which would work for 1-2 laps and then fall off the cliff. Nowadays we have the same type of tires, but teams are forced to use them during the race. Its a handicap which should not be necessary because it is artificial. Adding complexity does not offer better racing, as teams will work around the problem, thus handicapping the drivers.

          1. I agree with many points you make, I do feel current managing is not that different to the past but is a little too much. In the past however if anyone went 100 per cent the whole race the car would break nearly all the time, the idea of 100 percent speed all race is a myth they just pushed the car more than others in the hope it would beat someone looking after their car and that the car held together. When you make fast tyres, powerful engines they will always have to be managed to a degree but I agree 100 percent with you that it is too much now, the management element should be a natural product of the physics involved in going fast and not artificially tampered with.

          2. I don’t think I agree with this.

            In my view the complexity of the car and the tyre and fuel saving is not the underlying problem. It’s the computing power of the teams.

            In the 80’s there was fuel saving, but drivers had to make do with a small, mechanical guage on the dashboard. This is a very imprecise method and they probably got it wrong all the time, going too slow or too quick, even running out of fuel. Nowadays teams calculate and simulate the fuel use real time, so there are no errors. If the drivers do what they’re told, they use exactly the right amount of fuel.

            This goes for every area of the car. Teams calculate the optimal performance of the car and as long as the drivers sticks to the instructions, he’s getting the most out of his machine. There is just too little margin to compensate for a good driver, who ignores the team calculations (think Hamilton in Abu Dhabi last year).

            So maybe the simplest way of making races more unpredictable is to limit the number of microprocessors a team can use in and out of a car during the race.

            1. Your reply backs up my earlier comment that F1 is different things to different people, what some are happy with others would not be and vice versa. F1 is a conundrum and with the increase in social media we all get to know what others think.

    9. An uncharacteristically sensible comment from the perpetual whinge bag…

    10. Does this mean we will hear less team radio on TV? Also, how are they going to police it.

      1. Yes, we should hear less because there will be less radio traffic between the teams.

        Charlie Whiting has a team of people monitoring the radios at all times according to this article (

    11. 22 Loxton Road

    12. I’d rather see action on track than hear a few mildly entertaining quips

      1. Drivers could still signal like David Coulthard that time to Michael Schumacher during the French Grand Prix?

        1. Maybe they should restrict it to just one radio channel for all the drivers and teams instead of one for each driver. One big voice-chat for all drivers and race-engineers, and the drivers can talk to each other.

          1. I can imagine Kimi pressing the silence button directly from FP1 until the podium ceremony.

          2. Oh yes. Make it just one single channel for all teams and cars and allow them to talk as much as they want :)

    13. I’m sorry this isn’t news – if Horner had problem with it maybe the day before it all kicks off is a bit late to have a whinge. Get your head down and get on with it – when it all goes tits up get on your high horse. All this whinging is detrimental to F1 as the other problems of rule making – If left to the teams nothing happens as they are too self interested. Those who make up rules that are not teams try to do it for bums on seats and entertaiment only not really understanding anything and fans requests always fall on deaf ears.
      But Horner should get a grip – when I see ‘RedBull gives you wings’ I actually read ‘Redbull makes you whinge!’

      1. you and a lot of other people seem to think the people who are being quote run out to the press and tell how they feel about things. What really happens is that RB had a press conference, Horner was asked about radio and he gave a good answer:

        “I think it’s going to be a bit of a voyage of discovery, I hope we haven’t gone too far on the radio stuff because that’s taking away an element of dialogue between the race engineer and the driver and some of that for the fans from behind the scenes can be quite entertaining and some of it X-rated.”

        this get changed into a very juicy headline:”Horner thinks FIA has gone to far” and they add a subtle “may have” in there, which people usually read over.

        then a lot of people don’t bother to read the article and comment that Horner is a whiner.

        1. F1 used to be “X-Rated” – Horner.

        2. You are absolutely right – Horner’s answer was a good one. But I guess seeing him actually speak race weekend after race weekend last year and before and his bosses comments he set a president and now it will be hard to shake the image he has created of RBR……
          I can’t imagine any team principle has time to run to the press unless he has an egg to lay….
          I hope they are in the fight for the title as it will make F1 better and richer viewing for all – but I doubt it some how….

    14. Something not quoted in the article from the conference is he actually says “we’re working by text” and “maybe we’ll SMS the driver instead” which really puts that “voyage of discovery” statement in to context.

      I’m very excited by that possibility! More technology in the cars really excites me. Helmet HUD’s are my dream.

    15. as i said in an article yesterday i hate these new restrictions because they are taking away an element of the tv coverage that i have always really loved, that been the team radio chatter.

      watching fp1 & fp2 yesterday there was virtually no team radio messages on any of the tv feeds, the past few years i’ve put the pit lane feed up on my ipad via the sky app and been able to hear a lot of insight into setup changes with all sorts of really cool & insightful chatter between team & driver. so far this weekend due to the new restrictions there has been nothing and its a real shame that we have now lost something that genuinely added to the coverage.

      you watch an indycar, grand-am sportscar or nascar broadcast and you get to hear tons of radio messages because they see it for what it is, a great additional insight into the sport but f1 with its over-regulation just ban/restrict everything to make the sport far less interesting & insightful for the viewer.

    16. I did feel that it was getting a little bit silly when drivers were quite literally being told how to drive over the team radio, but these new banned messages are just ridiculous. I had no issue with what was being broadcast throughout last year. What I do fear will happen is that it will give us more coded messages on the strategy front, which won’t exactly help matters much.

      Perhaps some of us actually want to know what sort of strategy drivers are on during a race?

    17. Apex Assassin
      18th March 2016, 17:24

      Still waiting for the explanation on how this ban saves Jules life.

    18. I’m just waiting for the exasperated engineer to say “I heard you the first time (insert name)”, you know I can’t answer that”.

      We’ll still get a fair bit of radio chatter, just this year it will be more one sided.

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