Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, Albert Park, 2016

FIA reveals details of new driver radio ban

2016 F1 season

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The FIA has confirmed details of the new restrictions which are being placed on driver radio messages from the start of the 2016 season.

The sport’s governing body will enforce the ban by more strictly interpreting the existing article 27.1 of the sporting regulations which states “the driver must drive the car alone and unaided”. The FIA has issued a list of which messages the teams can give their drivers without breaking the rule.

The new limits prevent teams from giving drivers assistance on improving their lap times, understanding the performance of their tyres and optimising the performance of their cars. There are also tighter restrictions on how drivers perform race starts and alter their cars’ torque maps.

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.
– At all times the car is out of the garage with the engine running and the driver on board (with the exception of any time the car is in the pit lane on the day of the race prior to or between reconnaissance laps).

The following is a list of the permitted messages. Any other message, including any of those below which we suspect has been used as a coded message for a different purpose (including a prompt to a driver). is likely to be considered a breach of Article 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations and will be reported to the stewards accordingly.

1. Acknowledgement that a driver’s message has been heard, this may include repeating the message back to the driver for the sole purpose of confirmation.
2. Indication of a critical problem with the car. Any message of this sort may only be used if failure of a component or system is imminent and potentially terminal.
3. Information concerning damage to the car.
4. Instructions to select driver defaults for the sole purpose of mitigating loss of function of a sensor, actuator or controller whose degradation or failure was not detected and handled by the on-board software. In accordance with Article 8.2.4, any new setting chosen in this way must not enhance the performance of the car beyond that prior to the loss of function.
5. Instruction to enter the pit lane in order to fix or retire the car.
6. Indication of a problem with a competitor’s car.
7. Marshalling information (yellow flag, red flag, blue flag, Safety Car, Virtual Safety Car, race start aborted or other similar instructions or information from race control). This would include a reminder to switch off the SC ‘delta time’ function after crossing the first safety car line twice from the time the SC was deployed.
8. Passing on messages from race control (this would include a countdown to the start of the formation lap and telling a driver that the last car has taken up position on the grid at the end of the formation lap).
9. Wet track, oil or debris in certain corners.
10. Weather information.
11. Information concerning the driver’s own lap time or sector times.
12. Lap time of a competitor.
13. Helping with warning of traffic and gaps to other competitors during a practice session or race.
14. Instructions to swap position with other drivers.
15. Number of laps or time remaining during a practice session or race.
16. Position during a practice session or race.
17. ‘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).
18. When to enter the pits (or go to the grid during reconnaissance laps), any message of this sort may only be used if the driver is to enter the pits on that lap. Having been told when to enter the pits drivers may also be told to stay out if there has been a change of circumstances.
19. Reminders to use the pit speed limiter, change tyre settings to match the tyres fitted to the car orto check for white lines, bollards, weighbridge lights when entering or leaving the pits.
20. Driving breaches by team driver or competitor, e.g. missing chicanes, running off track, time penalty will be applied etc.
21. Notification that DRS is enabled or disabled.
22. Dealing with a DRS system failure.
23. Oil transfer.
24. Test sequence information during practice sessions (P1 and P2 only), e.g. aero-mapping.

B. Driver torque demand map freeze when the car is on the track

1. From the beginning of qualifying changes to the driver torque demand map will be inhibited when the car is on the track. This will exclude the portion of the map below 5% throttle pedal that may be adjusted for engine braking or power unit management.
2. The ability for the torque coordinator to change the min and max lines of the driver torque demand map will be retained to match the power unit operating envelope.
3. A command from race control will unfreeze the driver torque demand map selection if weather conditions demand it. The map will be frozen again for each individual car after he has pitted and left the pit lane or when the race control command is removed.
4. Only a single throttle pedal shaping map will be retained.

C. Clutch control

1. Unless a steady identified fault arises during the start procedure, the driver may only use one hand to operate a single clutch pull-paddle for the start. This will however not preclude the fitting of a second pull-paddle but only one may be used for the start itself. Where two paddles are fitted no interaction between them or the associated SECU inputs will be permitted and, furthermore, competitors must be able to demonstrate beyond any doubt that each of the paddles may only be operated with only one hand.

Each competitor is required to submit details of their steering wheel designs to the FIA for approval, particular attention should be given to demonstrating compliance with Article 9.2 of the Technical Regulations [clutch control restriction].

2. A clutch torque controller will be implemented in the standard ECU software with a target race use in 2017. It may be used for validation during 2016 tests and free practice sessions.
Associated with the clutch torque controller, the shape of the clutch paddle to target map will be standardised, or at least restricted in order to enforce a minimum gradient over a defined range.

D. Clutch bite point (stricter enforcement in 2016)

1. As enforced starting at the Belgian Grand Prix 2015, the clutch bite point may not be changed from the time the car leaves the garage for the first time after the pit lane is open on the day of the race until the end of the start lockout period after the race has started. For the avoidance of doubt, it will still be permissible to use a manual bite point offset switch for use after the race start lockout period.
2. The FIA standard ECU will automatically inhibit the use of the bite point finder on the day of the race.

2016 F1 season

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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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47 comments on “FIA reveals details of new driver radio ban”

  1. Button is right. They won’t be able to enforce all these bans!

    1. Re these rules ‘Any other message, including any of those below which we suspect has been used as a coded message for a different purpose (including a prompt to a driver). is likely to be considered a breach of Article 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations and will be reported to the stewards accordingly.’
      What is the penalty going to be? i have not seen anything about them has anyone else?

  2. Redundant regulation is excessive.

  3. I’m all for it really. Buttons argument of “it can’t be enforced all the time” could similarly be applied to drugs, doesn’t make the rules any less right.

    1. Actually the argument is just as valid with drugs, taxes and traffic regulations. If its impossible/unwanted to enforce they are a farce and will hurt society (or the sport in this case)

      1. Honestly I really can’t see how these regulations hurt the sport in the slightest. Where is the great gain to the sport in hearing a team tell a driver to activate 28-c-6 then press the green button 4 times?

        1. For me @Tristan, as I said below, that they are affecting how fast he goes, what strategy to go etc. and so I’d prefer to know about them, and it provides a window into drivers and team thinking – now we won’t get that.

          1. Well I can agree we should get more information about the cars via graphics for fuel loads etc. I think strategy will be left largely untouched by these regs though. They can still a driver generally when to push or coast, when to pit etc…

            It’s important to note these regs aren’t for us, or to “improve the show” or other effects that they’ve been discussing lately. It’s more to prevent the recent trend of the team actually driving the cars, ie telling the driver they should short shift on turn 3 to improve their times.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        18th March 2016, 18:40

        I agree to a point but traffic regulations don’t hurt society. If you could drive at whatever speed you wanted on any roads, it’d be bad news considering some of the idiots out there.

        Drugs is a different story as it all gets pushed underground instead. You could argue the same will happen here but not to the same extent. Someone telling Hamilton to slow down and back away from Rosberg is one thing. He may or may not listen. Someone giving Hamilton some sort of coded message will make no difference though- he’ll just pretend he misunderstood and will push like hell!

  4. Apex Assassin
    18th March 2016, 5:02

    Someone please explain to me why we need a halo but having 22 uninformed and possibly confused drivers is safe?

    Yet another smoke-and-mirrors gimmick to draw focus away from more important issues.

    1. RaceProUK (@)
      18th March 2016, 14:54

      Well done on conflating two totally unrelated issues there. Oh, and building the ‘confused drivers’ strawman.

    2. Many of the exceptions are phrased exactly to prevent actual safety issues from resulting from the concept of radio restriction.

  5. I wonder if we see at some point:

    Car xx under investigation – illegal team radio message

    1. No more “Felipe baby, stay cool”, I guess :P

  6. I hate these new restrictions because i have always liked listening to all of the team radio chatter & have always felt that it add’s a lot of extra insight to the sport.

    The fact that there was practically no radio communications on any of the tv feeds during FP1 (including the pit channel that was pretty much built as a platform for extra radio communications) is a sign of things to come sadly :(

    I waited for years for f1 to catch up to other categories & actually play out more team radio & now just because some ‘fans’ didn’t like what they heard they have to ruin it for the rest of us & take F1 a dozen steps behind every other category who happily play out lots of great team radio for fans!

    1. Have agree @RogerA, I also mostly liked the radio chatter as it gave me a better window into what the team was thinking. Now most technical stuff and strategy will go under the radar again.

      These cars need careful managing of tyres and fuel anyway, I’d rather hear about it than have to guess why a driver is slower/faster at that moment. If only we could trust FOM to provide a good info graphic of settings on the car (but they don’t even show fuel,gearing consistently enough to really follow that, so I don’t think we will get that).

  7. On the bright side, “hammer time” is still allowed

      1. 11. Information concerning the driver’s own lap time or sector times.

        That should cover the “Hurry Up Hami” part of the conversation.

      2. 17. ‘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).

  8. I don’t mind a lot of these in principle as they could make things easier to understand for drivers and viewers alike, my problem is that they’re not getting rid of the gimmicks that are already twice as confusing plus the fact that it’s FOM that decide which messages are broadcast. Simple answer to criticism that the engineers are driving the cars is to limit the engine modes/settings or just not broadcast those messages, instead we’ve got the same number of engine modes and the drivers gluing the instruction manual around the cockpit and too busy to say anything interesting in the radio for fans to engage with.

    1. @alec-glen

      Simple answer to criticism that the engineers are driving the cars is to… just not broadcast those messages

      That would be a fudge and a cover-up, not a solution.

      1. @keithcollantine
        A fudge and a cover up? Definitely got the right sport!

        As far as a solution that depends on the problem, was the problem that the engineers were driving the cars or that it was devaluing the tv coverage? I’d argue the latter as even without real-time communication the engineers are still dictating how the cars are driven, pre race briefings will now be of higher value and those drivers that can take more from their engineers into the race will have an advantage. If the complaint was that engineers shouldn’t be advising drivers on gears to take on corner entry and exit why haven’t they reduced the level of telemetry provided? Engineers have been able to provide that type of information for ages but with the previous engine regs it wasn’t a factor as there was no torgue. The change in engine regs gave the engineers fresh impetus to coach drivers, FOM duly broadcast it and received complaints about it from commercial stakeholders which prompted the change…

  9. Why? This is supposed to make things more competitive? And they want to attract more fans? Any newbie will immediately see this as adding unnecessary complexity and an organization that has nothing better to do than perpetuate it’s own bureaucracy and arrogance. What a complete waste of time and energy.

    1. Any NEWBIE will obviously see that, only that… because he/she is a NEWBIE.

      1. More reason not to like this sport. Arrogant schmucks like you. Good luck to your dying sport.

    2. maybe because the drivers 2 years ago were literally told where to brake and how to take the corner on the radio. A lot of fans didn’t like that, so this is an evolution of last years restrictions.

    3. F1 is not supposed to be a driver coaching series. By this point drivers are meant to be figuring some things out themselves without so much hand-holding as used in junior series. I agree with the reasoning, however much I believe this sort of rule simply takes this sort of thing underground.

  10. Do I see it correctly that it is no longer allowed to tell drivers how many laps they have to do on the current set of tyres for the strategy chosen? It seems that they can’t even be told whether they are on Plan A, Plan B, etc. So how will the drivers know whether they need to drive faster or conserve tyres?

    It seems the only thing allowed is to say “pit at the end of this lap”. Ridiculous!

    1. They can know whether to drive faster or slower through the Code 17 messages – such things as “hurry up” and “take it easy” are permitted. Drivers can simply be told to follow the instruction until told to do something contradicting this before the season, and then you just use the “hurry up”/”take it easy” pairing to indicate what is needed at a given moment.

      You shouldn’t need to know which plan you are on if you are being told what (general) pace to run it at.

  11. This is just ridiculous, how hard is it to go around the rules and use codes instead? “Lower track temperatures on track in 5 minutes”, can mean: change engine mapping to setting 5, or something along those lines

    1. That would be a possible method of avoiding the problem, but it is a crude method of doing it, and probably the sort the FIA could police.

      If, on the other hand (for example), one uses a sharper tone when “more” of something is wanted (something people tend to do, especially in racing, unless they’re like Nico Rosberg’s engineer Tony Ross), use a specific corner (say Turn 2) for engine mapping-related messages (that is to say, any message given in Turn 2 is to change engine mapping, in addition to its usual meaning) and emphasise the second word to indicate something should be changed by 2, then:

      a) you can communicate that the engine map should be increased by 2 (which is easier for a driver to do than select engine map 5 if they’re not focused on the dashboard or if there are electronic glitches – the pit can see the driver is on map 3 and the important thing is for the car to get to map 5, not that the driver knows which map they are in)

      b) you can communicate multiple messages at once, provided at least one is a permitted message. Of course, the more simultaneous messages, the more sophistication needed and the more risk of a hilarious-to-anyone-not-actually-involved misunderstanding…

      c) the main message is still a straightforwardly permitted one, reducing the risk of investigation and providing plausible deniability – provided that either the driver follows the main message or the handling of the disobedience is, at least on the surface, naturalistic.

      d) if someone complained, only someone who knew the codes could realistically explain what the “coded” part could have been. Nobody else would have a clue about what happened, and could only guess.

      e) it would take a huge amount of effort to determine that such a code had ever been used, let alone in the specific message in question. You’d probably need linguistics experts, of which the FIA appears to have none, and you’d expect such an investigation to occur for weeks per message. When teams get serious about their information management, and there are hundreds of illegal messages per session (as I expect to happen), the sheer volume of work would become impossible.

      Of course, it would take some effort to train a communication crew in such a code. But to the team that figured this, there are no real obstacles in the rules for either this or most other methods of restricting radio message.

  12. See rule 17, no coded messages.

    1. Yeah, I saw that too, but how hard is it to make it sound non-coded? It’s not like the FIA is going to sit and listen to every radio communication and see what actions the driver takes after it

  13. I hope that the people who cheered on plans to allow the FIA to meddle in the team’s affairs are happy with the result of their campaign.

  14. I am very disappointed. When I do not watch a race on tv live and sometimes fast forward portions I allways stop to hear the radio. It is the best bit.

  15. They still have pit boards for passing messages.
    “TYRES B” to change strategies
    “HAMMER” for Hamilton
    “OUT 10” to stretch till the next stop

    Driver hits the OK/Ack button. If pits don’t get that, pit board repeats msg next lap.

    It’s a cumbersome throwback, but messages can still be passed without the radio.

    1. The radio rules are also applied to the pit boards.

      Fortunately for Hammertime fans, that sort of message is permitted as a “pace” message in Category 17.

  16. It is comically straightforward to circumvent this plan. For a team and driver with decent information management skills, this should present no restriction to what can be communicated. Even subtle word choices, tone, timing and emphasis change what words mean, whether it’s in regular conversation or the restricted-etymology languages the FIA are imposing. There is no way that the FIA is going to be able to decode even a half-competently-done conversation with subtext when classic writings get academics arguing over subtexts for decades. (There is a rule that prevents rule breaches from being carried across calendar years, except under rare circumstances – all of which require the case to be opened and for the time since the case was opened to be short). The quiet of FP1 simply means teams don’t see the point of revealing how good they are at this while there is relatively little at stake and a very long time to provide a race-altering judgment.

    The only plausible method of restricting what is said over the radio is to remove the pit-to-car connection. Keep them in if the FIA wants, but make it a one way race control-to-drivers channel. The moment pit lanes and drivers may communicate, it is possible (at least in theory) to communicate whatever is wanted in a way that would evade casual notice.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      18th March 2016, 18:30

      So rather than learning how their car actually works, they are going to learn a series of codes? You try picking up a subtle tone when strapped inside an F1 car – it’s not as though the driver can clarify it if he’s unsure! What if the driver mistakes the code and goes faster when he should be going slower? How do you get him to slow down?! With more codes!?

      I’m delighted that things are back in the hands of the drivers personally!

      1. It is most likely quicker than learning how the car works, and I see no reason why the more talented members of the F1 fraternity could not learn both the way their car works and the codes.

        The indifferent nature of radio quality means that there is some risk, but then there was risk in the explicitly-stated messages too. If a driver mistakes the codes… …well, that’s the same as mistaking the codes in the earlier days. The example you cite could be fixed by doing a legal-under-rule-17 “take it easy”, justifiable as the team thought the driver was going too fast. If it was something that was definitely against the rules, then a code for “reverse” would do the trick.

  17. Driver radio had gone too far when teams were telling drivers when to brake or how to take a corner but I fear the ban may go too far the other way.

    Considering how complex an F1 car is now especially all the controls and setting on the steering wheel I have no problem with a team telling a driver that option A on menu 5 needs to be changed to setting 2 rather than the driver having to manage all that type of thing during the race with no help whatsoever.

    If drivers aren’t allowed any help with all the different car settings I would much rather the FIA ban most of them and just leave the driver able to change relatively basic things and then say the team can’t help.

    Having read the list I am still not completely sure what is and what is not allowed, I read in a different article that Rosberg has said the drivers aren’t even allowed to be told if the team changes their strategy for example from a three stop to a two stop, if that is true I can’t see any logic behind that decision at all.

    Here is the quote

    Regarding the radio ban he said: “It has a big influence. It’s great, because we’re not Muppets any more. It’s down to us to get the job done on our own. It’s very good. It’s gone to the extent of not even being able to tell us that strategies have changed, so if I change from a three stop to a two-stop, I’m driving flat-out thinking I’m stopping in two laps time, and then they’re just not going to pull me into the box. And then my tyres are done.

    Also what are the punishments for breaking the ban, is it just up to the stewards to decide how big an affect it had and so the size of the penalty?

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      18th March 2016, 18:34

      The FIA don’t need to ban settings though – that’s up to the teams. Do we need cars with thousands of different settings? I know this will start the old “F1 is supposed to be complicated and advanced” argument but it could easily be more advanced and complicated if some of the restrictive regs were removed so that doesn’t make sense.

      If what we are saying is that a modern day F1 car is too complicated for a human to drive then we may have overstepped the mark somewhere….

  18. Another pathetic decision.

  19. I guess McLaren broke the rules when they told Jenson that Fernando & Esteban were OK after their collision. That is not on the permitted list.

  20. Lizbeth Jackson
    24th July 2016, 15:40

    I have been watching F1 for over 40yrs and seen many changes in those years but none as ridiculous as the Fia not allowing driver/ engineer having discussions regarding a technical problem with the car!! If the cars are going to be produced with such technology then for gods sake allow the guy who is the technical expert to help the driver (who is not the technical expert) with any problem as it occurs!! You at the Fia are not driving the cars nor are you a tech expert so butt out making these rules and regs that I’m sure very few fans agree with, you are spoiling the sport for me and I’m sure many others!!

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