Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Imola, 2021

Team radio problems contributed to collision between Perez and Ocon

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez have been cleared of responsibility for the collision between the pair which caused first practice for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix to be red flagged.

The two drivers collided at the first part of Imola’s Villeneuve chicane. Little was shown of the incident due a broadcasting problem at the track.

Teams’ radio communications were also disrupted, which contributed to the Red Bull and Alpine pair making contact. The incident left Perez with a left-rear puncture and Ocon with damage to the front-right of his car.

After speaking to both drivers, the stewards ruled neither was at fault and issued no penalties.

“Ocon slowed before turn five in order to let Perez by, as well as moving entirely to the inside of the turn,” they explained in a statement. “Perez was on a fast lap.

“The two cars reached the apex at the same time, and just barely touched wheels. In the end, both drivers agreed in the hearing that it was an unfortunate miscommunication of timing between them, not helped by the fact that both drivers had limited or no communications with their teams at the time.

“Both drivers agreed that neither was at fault. The stewards therefore take no further action.”

New Red Bull signing Perez and Alpine’s Ocon ended the session in 16th and 17th place, as lap times improved significantly in the restarted session when they were unable to go back on track.

Each of them had been at the top of the timesheet earlier on, when the circuit surface was particularly cool and 19 of the 20 cars were on track to gain crucial mileage of a circuit that, prior to 2020, had not been used by F1 in 14 years.

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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35 comments on “Team radio problems contributed to collision between Perez and Ocon”

  1. No it was just normal procedure for Ocon.
    Business as usual.

  2. someone or something
    16th April 2021, 12:40

    Okay, wait … Does this means that a power outage in Biggin Hill, some 1000 miles away from the racetrack, actually affected radio communication?!
    If that’s the case, who came up with that? A setup like that is just asking for trouble.

    1. Because F1 is going ‘green’ – not taking all their OB equipment everywhere.

      1. someone or something
        16th April 2021, 12:47

        That sounds far-fetched, tbh.

        1. F1 is a series of bad fantasies.

          1. someone or something
            16th April 2021, 13:28

            Nah, man. This sounds like you’re bothered about that subject in particular. However, there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that ‘going green’ has anything to do with this.

          2. If they were doing all the FOM OB and data processing at the track – this wouldn’t have happened.
            The reasons they don’t take all the required people and stuff is due to the virus and the push to be more environmentally friendly – as in leaving tons of stuff at a central location and handling it remotely.

            Believe me or don’t believe me as you want, but it doesn’t change what’s actually happening and why.

          3. If they were doing all the FOM OB and data processing at the track – this wouldn’t have happened.

            Indeed, @S, we all know that all power outages during race weekends are limited to Biggin Hill :P

            “Believe me or don’t believe me as you want, but it doesn’t change what’s actually happening and why.”
            Sounds very much like the favourite argument of a QAnon devotee ;)

  3. Have typed this in the other comments section but will repeat since it’s more directly applicable to the contents of this article…

    I didn’t get round to seeing FP1 but according to BBC’s write up the power outage also led to there being “no radio between pits and car”. If that is indeed the case and, I suspect, is the reason why Perez and Ocon came together, surely that’s a quite considerable safety concern? It’s impossible to stay off the racing line at all times when on a slow lap and there’s only so much a driver can look out for from their limited viewpoint.

    1. Given that FP1 and FP2 at the Eifel GP was cancelled over the fact that a helicopter couldn’t safely fly, I am shocked that if radios couldn’t function that they were allowed to drive.

      Teams and drivers have always sited safety when any proposals over radio use are tabled to get they knocked back.

      Whilst F1 should take blame for allowing green flag running, F1 teams could have proactively not allowed their drivers out if safety is truly important as they do have a duty-of-care.

      1. The helicopter needs to fly for medical evacuation.
        Drivers can driver perfectly well without being coached. Well, they are supposed to be able to, but they never actually do in F1.

        And while the teams always play the safety card in that situation, it’s ultimately just because they lose control.

    2. I don’t get that drivers can blame ‘no radio’ for colliding on a bright day, @Ninjenius

      How can we ever expect them to race ‘alone and unaided’ as required in F1?

      1. F1 doesn’t really expect them to race alone and unaided. There would be no pit-to-car communication at all if that were the case.
        Just like track limits, many regulations aren’t worth the paper they are printed on and are conveniently ignored.

      2. I don’t get that drivers can blame ‘no radio’ for colliding on a bright day

        @coldfly It’s understandable that it’s hard to “get” from an armchair POV. Granted I have and will never experience what F1 drivers experience in the car either, but if the drivers place a lack of radio comms as one of the contributing factors in an incident then I’d be inclined to trust and understand their viewpoint.

        How can we ever expect them to race ‘alone and unaided’ as required in F1?

        There’s a difference between helping a driver optimise their car’s setup, or coaching, on quali or raceday and making drivers aware of potential hazards and speed differences on track. Going down the route of alone and unaided would inevitably lead to a higher risk of serious accidents, no matter how aware the drivers are, and would be a slap in the face to those putting in the efforts to improve safety standards in other areas of the sport.

        I’m definitely of the viewpoint that drivers should be given less non-safety-related advice and coaching during a race though.

        1. I think you missed the ‘understatement’ in my comment; just read it as “it’s unacceptable”, @Ninjenius.

          If you collide then just owe up to it (in this case) rather than blame the (lack of) radio.

      3. @coldfly I think you are overthinking this. I don’t think SP and EO were necessarily ‘entirely’ blaming their collision on lack of radio, as you are saying, but do claim that had a hand in it. Sometimes these things happen in practice even with no power outages affecting anything.

        I think that you are trying to compare a practice session to a race session. In a practice session it is common for a driver to need to get out of the way of another driver, and that is aided by teams having their GPS working as well as their radios. When those aren’t, it makes things more difficult out there, in a practice session particularly, when cars can come up on other cars at vastly different speeds.

        When you compare to a race, even if they had no GPS, nor radio comm, at least all the cars would be running at their racing speeds, and would only be needing to let another car by if being blue flagged. Otherwise cars are going at predictable speeds, not vastly different speeds, and any racing incidents would be a result of passing and/or defending attempts, but not from one driver trying to respectfully get out of another’s way.

        I’m not sure what kind of diminished radio assistance you are envisioning for the future, but I’m sure some will always be present at a minimum for the purposes of safety, and that to me is far more crucial for practice sessions when there could be no two cars on the track with identical fuel, tire, and engine mode strategies in play, as opposed to a race when they are usually all on quite similar plans and are all running at quite predictable speeds.

    3. I wonder how drivers like Fangio managed to finish races without radio communication :O

      1. @paeschli I don’t think referencing an era with such high mortality rates is the best way to demonstrate that a lack of radio communication would have a negligible effect on drivers ability to safely finish a race. If that is what you’re implying.

        1. Indeed Ninjenius, and in addition to that, at the time the time between then tended not to be thousands, so maybe there was a bit more margin for errors in this respect at the time.

        2. Drivers died because of unsafe cars and unsafe tracks. Not a single driver has died because of “a lack of radio communication”

  4. What I find weird (or not*) is that last time Vettel was punished harshly with penalty points due to something he could not see or know (double waved, rather than single yellow), and here we have two drivers who can see each other and still collide and they get no penalty whatsoever.

    * maybe not so weird as F1 Stewarding and Race Management now seems to try to be as inconsistent as possible.

    1. @coldfly I don’t see the connection between SV and flags, and today’s incident between SP and EO. Are you saying SV saw no yellow at all? I thought the issue was that he did not slow enough to show that he was heeding a flag (regardless of the debate as to whether it was single or double yellow). Obviously he could not convince the stewards (assuming he/the team had the opportunity to challenge them) that he was in the right do not slow enough.

      It seems to me when SP and EO were asked to explain themselves re their collision in practice, it became obvious it was a miscommunication between them on their part not helped by having no radio nor by the fact that EO was trying to get out of the way respectfully (there was obviously no malice detected) and this was just a case of one car coming upon another car at vastly different speeds, which can sometimes leave little time to react, especially when said driver EO didn’t get the usual warning from the pits that would normally aid drivers in knowing they were about to be in a situation of vastly different speeds.

      Had EO had the normal amount of warning he likely would have done something different enough that there would not have been a collision. He was likely contrite about that to the stewards which would have reassured them that he certainly had no intention of being in SP’s way, and similarly SP would have been able to express that he was a bit caught out by the speed difference to EO without the usual warning he’d have had that he was coming up on a car that he may not have necessarily known until it was too late was going vastly more slowly. It can all happen so fast. Having that warning via teams GPS and radio communication is a great safety tool in practice sessions with cars going very different speeds any given time.

      1. SV was not shown a flag (he passed the light panel and the marshals were slow) when he drove through the marshalling sector.
        He did slow down as required though when he saw smoke.

        He could not have known that it was a double yellow as it was not shown to him on track, and his dash only showed a yellow flag (not double waved). So he could not know that he had to abandon his lap (as per double waved) and assumed that slowing down in the sector (as per single yellow) was sufficient.

        I only compare it to this incident as I find that Vettel was punished harshly when he did nothing wrong based on what he could see from the cockpit, and the guys today get a free pass partly due to the excuse that there was no radio.
        I opinion strongly that drivers should first and foremost be judged based on what they see on track and how they (re)act.

        On a clear day and in an open corner during testing there should never be an accident like this. I didn’t see what happened, but it can’t be that nobody was to blame.

  5. They should have called off the practice session. Unplanned lack of telemetry, radio, and other communication tools is cause enough for suspending a session on safety grounds, I would think.

  6. For those wondering how problems in the UK can cause problems at the circuit. Everything goes through the FOM system now, The teams no longer have there own systems on the cars for transmitting radio/telemetry.

    All that data coming from the cars goes through the FOM control box on the cars & is transmitted via the T-cam antenna through the FOM fibre optic network setup around the circuit which is now all run remotely from the UK. You lose that link & you lose all of the data that is usually transmitted through it.

    In the past the full network wouldn’t have gone down like this as the fibre ring was run from the track, However the Covid situation caused them to further reduce staff/equipment at the circuit last year (A few years sooner than planned) so now most of the systems are been run remotely from F1’s base at Biggin Hill. There is a network setup from circuit to Biggin Hill via a high speed (And usually exceptionally reliable) fibre optic network.

    The decision to run the radio/telemetry through the FOM system was done to not only ensure the FIA & FOM have full access to all of the data but also as it provided teams with full coverage around the circuit as well as cut back on the amount of RF signals required. Previously when everyone was running there own radio/telemetry systems it was harder for the FIA/FOM to access it, Teams would suffer black spots around some tracks that would impact data coverage & radio clarity & you would also suffer from issues with the amount of RF frequencies been used. The teams all voted in favour of this given the benefits of this arrangement under normal circumstances.

    To my knowledge this is the first time that the system has gone down in this way & it will of course be something that is looked at to prevent it going down in this way again.

    Aside from the team radio/telemetry all of the onboard camera feeds, timing data, operation of some of the remote cameras, F1TV production & all of the additional video feeds provided to broadcasters among other things are also now been handled from Biggin Hill.

    1. @gt-racer F1 uploaded this video to Youtube recently detailing the remote operations setup.

      1. Thanks for that useful extra info @gt-racer, and @stefmeister, certainly adds a bit to our understanding of what happened. Do have to say, it all working during FP2 certainly is a good recovery.

  7. Is there no footage of this incident? Can’t find it anywhere.

    1. @carbon_fibre This is all we got for now.

      I think all the cars carry 360 degree cameras now which record to onboard storage so they should be able to download that footage at some point.

  8. Perez is like ” not fighting with you for position. We’re not even teammates anymore!”
    Verstappen is like “yes mate, I know the feeling”
    Vettel is like “See, it was his fault last race!”
    Alonso is like “tell him to stay away from me!”
    Grosjean is like “France still well represented after my departure!”
    Wolff is like “And I made Abiteboul think he was stealing him from us…hehehe”

    1. someone or something
      16th April 2021, 13:33

      I know this means a lot to you, so I’ll admit that you are indeed successfully and continuously t-rolling me, with your nickname and your comments. Often to the verge of making me want to call you out on all that nonsense, but I’ve thankfully become better at biting my tongue.

      1. Tell him to troll me. I never read replies.

  9. Happened at that same corner where Verstappen got sabotaged last year.

  10. lol Perez and Max are gonna hit each other sooner than I thought.

    1. A fallout would happen.

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