Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Albert Park, 2016

Drivers say radio ban made little difference

2016 Australian Grand Prix

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F1’s new restrictions on radio messages made little difference to yesterday’s Australian Grand Prix according to drivers.

The FIA planed wide-ranging new restrictions on what information drivers could receive during races this year. But on the morning of yesterday’s race the ban was partially relaxed allowing teams to give their drivers greater information about strategies.

“I don’t think it changed much in the end,” said Sebastian Vettel. “There’s a lot more for us to remember but you can argue that we’re here to race as hard as possible, not to play some memory games.”

“I had a bit of an issue somewhere halfway through the race, because we had an issue with the software. But I don’t think that’s very exciting for the crowd when I’m struggling with software issues and then don’t get displayed what I should have on the display, so I asked and fortunately we were able to fix it but it didn’t change much for the racing side of things.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2016
“It made no difference whatsoever” – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton also appeared to run afoul of the new restrictions: his engineer told him “I can’t say” when Hamilton asked “how do I turn the alarm off?” during the race. Information on how to operate the car is among the details no longer allowed by the rules.

“For me it made no difference whatsoever,” said Hamilton. “Didn’t enhance the race.”

However Hamilton said he appreciated the greater freedom drivers now have to adjust their car performance. “It’s cool that we can, just for example with our engine we can control and decide what we’re going to do with it for once,” he said.

Hamilton urged the sport’s rule-makers to focus on ways to make it easier for cars to follow each other closely.

“Otherwise, I don’t think the changes are necessary in that area,” he added, “it’s more with the car, to enable us to follow each other.”

“Sebastian was right behind me on a better tyre but just because of the aero… that’s why he went wide, I guess. It’s just so hard to get close and that’s what we want to do, we want to be able to get and close and not have to use the DRS on the straight but be tucked up because you’re slip-streaming someone because you’re close enough.”

Nico Rosberg was more positive about the changes to the radio rules.

“It was a good challenge because now it’s more down to us on track so that was cool,” said the race winner. “You also feel more in control and it was more of a challenge like that.”

“They did make another change just before the race so we did get more information on strategy, just need to review whether that’s the way to go forward now or if there’s an even better way to do it.”

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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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15 comments on “Drivers say radio ban made little difference”

  1. for me the restrictions made things a bit less interesting as there were hardly any radio clips played out during the race on the main tv feed or the pit lane feed that plays out extra radio bits so there is an added insight & element that add’s greatly to the coverage which we have now lost.

    meanwhile we can listen to tons of radio call’s that are completely unrestricted in other categories, heck in nascar i believe fans have access to all team’s radio communications via a website app and before verizon hid all the incycar on car camera feeds behind there app we used to have access to all indycar team radio on there website.

    f1 is taking a step backwards with these restrictions as all its doing is giving fans less access and less insight, we shoudl be getting access to more team radio… not less!

    1. Well, it seems like the inevitable upshot of the complaints from the fans that there was too much radio traffic between the pit wall and the driver that lead to this ban in the first place. With the fans having pressurised the FIA to clamp down on radio transmissions, it’s perhaps not surprising that there is consequently a marked reduction in the amount of radio traffic which is being broadcast.

      1. Are you honestly saying that the FIA listened to fans complaints and did something? The FIA listens to nobody, they are fools tinkering with things to justify their jobs. F1 is a team activity not just a man in car. There needs to be communication with the pitwall, that is what it takes to manage the car. F1 going back in time one stupid rule at a time.

        I’ve made a rule to never give a single penny to F1 until they stop acting like extras from the Walking Dead.

        1. How do you watch F1?

  2. Good man, Lewis. Well said, and keep on about it until something gets done.

    But the rule-makers need a little help – they’ve shown they’re pretty incompetent when it comes to making rules… maybe suggestions from drivers and engineers from Formula E and sportscars and guys like Haas would help.

    1. Careful suggesting anything related to Formula E, fanboost is pretty derided (and rightfully so) around these parts. It seems to be the #1 fear of F1 fans that it will be introduced.

  3. Radio ban? Oh It made a difference.. To my enjoyment of a race!

    I really do not want to hear the engineers offering driving tips but when you can’t tell someone how to turn off a beeping alarm? Thus perhaps causing an Alonso moment? Plain stupid.

    Frankly it’s ridiculous to have such in practice and qualifying. As Rosberg showed us. Anyone who has raced in anyway whatsoever knows that, for example, a blanket ban on blasted pit boards that are barely decipherable in a wet race and have a hugely restricted ‘driver tip ability’ knows these rules are made up by the same idiots that came up with the new ‘qualifying format’

    In other words people that should never be let near deciphering and then ruling the difference between what is audience enjoyment, mixing up the grid and driving assistance.

  4. Imagine somebody hacking the team radio and telling the driver to box…

    1. @mulsanne While not specifically calling a driver into the pits; Somebody tapping into a team’s radio frequency & talking to driver & crew isn’t completely unheard of.

      I’ve seen in occur both intentionally & by accident where things like local taxi firms radio communication has been heard by team & driver during street circuit events.

    2. @mulsanne Ah, so that’s what happened to the Toro Rosso-drivers ;)

  5. As far as the radio clampdown goes, I don’t really mind a lot of the coaching been removed but I do think that the extra bits they banned for this year are unnecessary as it felt like we had the right balance through 2015 & I don’t believe they really needed to go any further.

    I myself always enjoyed hearing the radio snippets & it did feel over the Australia weekend that we were getting noticeably less which in my opinion is a shame.

  6. No surprises there then. Nico gives the PR-tastic answer while Seb and Hamilton speak their minds…

  7. I think it’s great, and Hamilton is spot on with his assessment that the drivers should be able to set their own engine settings. I can understand why they had to tow the FOM PR line and not mention that much as it’s supposed to be about racing not engine settings, and F1F puts Vettels comment first for the headline of it not changing anything at all because it wants less regulation.

    But not hearing once “okay driver, you’re allowed to use engine mapping whatever now” and knowing that the drivers were fully in control of when they wanted to push or when to save, and is greatly beneficial to the sport as a whole. Tyre strategy and when to pit sure, I’m glad they added that back in too, because that’s the bit that adds great radio to listen to, and we still got that!

    Some drivers are going to really hit out against it too coming up. There is no doubt Raikkonen’s “technical” issue was due to messing up an engine setting. “sorry I broke it” isn’t something you say when something just breaks on its own. The drivers who are committing everything to not only being the best racers, but actually understanding how to operate the car they are driving, deserve to be the ones getting the best results.

    I think these 2 modified regulations (tyres and radios) are a great move for F1, and with the removal of the failed elimination qualifying, the regulations are in a good place for the season to come.

    1. I agree with you. More variables, more responsibility for the driver, more opportunity for mistakes. I wouldn’t mind the teams making the cars a little less complicated to manage either, it looks like they’re trying to send a particularly difficult text message sometimes.

  8. I believe it was changed the morning of the race (when all the Team principal’s got together about the qualifying issue), but teams were allowed to talk strategy with the drivers over the radio. That would have made a huge difference. We saw how being on different tires at different times impacted the race. The tire choices, and the timing of those calls, would have vastly different had the drivers made those calls themselves. Lewis would probably have chosen to pit earlier and put on the soft tires. Raikkonen would have pitted earlier in the first stint as well.

    We may not have seen consequences of these choices played out over the race because the Red Flag clearly reset everything to zero. But we know Verstappen and Sainz probably both would have pitted earlier in the first stint after the stoppage.

    I’d like to see the drivers make more of their own strategy calls – THAT is racing too. If they do, teams should be able to some strategy information to the drivers – in fact it’d be critical to do so, you need to know as much as possible about where your competitors are, what tires they are using, how fast they are lapping, etc. Right now though, teams still have massive computers and strategists crunching all the numbers for them.

    I’m reminded of Bobby Fischer. He came to dislike modern chess because it was all too predictable. He felt the was dominated by the sheer brute force of the team that analyzed every aspect of the game, with computers and seconds and so on. Sounds a bit familiar to F1.

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