F1 teams ‘thinking twice’ about complaining on radio due to TV broadcasts

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 teams are less willing to complain about their rivals because they know their messages may be broadcast on television, race director Michael Masi believes.

Communications between drivers and teams have been played during races for years. However radio traffic between the race director and the teams was only opened up for the first time earlier this season.

The innovation debuted at the Spanish Grand Prix, where Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was heard complaining to race director Michael Masi that Lewis Hamilton was being held up by Nikita Mazepin.

Further messages have been broadcast from other teams over the past five races. However Masi believes teams are becoming more selective in their communications with him because they know they could be shared with the watching world.

“Each sporting team, and it’s no different in F1, will utilise the radio knowing that it’s there,” said Masi. “It’s been there for many years, obviously it’s just broadcast now.

“If anything, now that the teams know that it’s broadcast, it’s actually probably reduced the radio traffic in race control and, from a team’s perspective, making them probably think twice before they ask a question.”

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During the Austrian Grand Prix weekend Wolff accused McLaren of exaggerating the degree of danger which occured when Valtteri Bottas spun in the pit lane. McLaren’s team manage Paul James was heard telling Masi the Mercedes “could have taken our guys out there, and the pit wall.”

Wolff dismissed the “Armageddon scenario” which had been described to Masi. “It’s good that these channels are now opened up so we can all have a laugh,” he said.

Masi said the incident would have been investigated irrespective of whether any team had complained about it.

“In those types of situations, when incidents like that happen, we go straight up on the screen and put that it’s ‘under investigation’ or ‘noted’ or whatever it may be to tell everyone in the pit lane what’s happening. But to be fair with what that incident was, even if McLaren hadn’t said anything, I would have asked the stewards to investigate that.”

The discussions between Masi and the teams do not factor into stewards’ deliberations, he added. “The stewards don’t actually hear any of those communications between myself and the teams, and don’t hear the commentary of the races either. So they’re not aware of that side of it in any way, shape or form.”

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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19 comments on “F1 teams ‘thinking twice’ about complaining on radio due to TV broadcasts”

  1. Good – there are some team principles who need to learn to keep it buttoned up to be honest. I think they have realised that unless there is a serious reason to complain – they just sound like spoiled brats.

  2. I’ve liked this addition that debuted in Spain, although some of the ones broadcasted thus far have been pointless. The complaint about Mazepin because Hamilton wasn’t within the necessary window of 1.2 seconds yet. Mazepin let him by on the first suitable opportunity after getting blue lights on his steering wheel.
    Also, Mclaren’s unfair singling out of Tsunoda, even though most approached Max’s car fast, including their drivers.
    Mercedes and RB on the small yellow bumps at Paul Ricard T2 exit were somewhat redundant as well.

    1. Absolutely @jerejj – nice insight to the shenanigans that take place on the radio.

      1. And they will do exactly what they do with the drivers radio. Edit them, play them out of sequence to tell a different story, or select one driver to ‘star’ to create another false narrative. And as we have seen with the F1 sanctioned Netflix series, they have no problem with placing radio traffic from one race onto a completely different one.
        Although saying that, I would be well up for a dedicated youtube channel broadcasting all this stuff live.

        1. It’s absurd to conflate the liberties taken with DtS with live race coverage. I have zero problems with using whatever audio is deemed appropriate by the editors of DtS to create an entertaining narrative. Playing a radio clip from another race during a live race broadcast would be beyond the pale.

  3. It is a nice addition. And so far the only team that has been made to look a bit silly off of the back of it is Mercedes. McLaren was well within their right to complain about that spin and Toto trying to ridicule them for it has not done him or his team any favors.

    Granted, Mercedes this year have been pretty hard to like for a neutral observer, but that comment in particular really rubbed me the wrong way.

    1. McLaren were within their rights; but to claim that Bottas could have first taken out the pit crew then jumped the prat perch ledge to take out them as well seems a little far fetched to say the least.
      Are we going to penalise drivers the next time the front jack man jumps out the way because of what might happen, rather than what did?

      1. Coventry Climax
        1st July 2021, 1:55

        Oh yes, Mr. Masi has already set the example of stepping in on the basis of what might happen, instead of what did.
        When something really does happen, he takes all the time of the world before he reacts, but when nothing happened, he’s all too quick saying it won’t be tolerated again.

    2. Must say I didn’t care much for McLaren’s attempt to hit Tsunoda with a penalty in Baku either. For all the criticism Masi is taking, I think he handled that one pretty well.

    3. If it keeps them from bitching even a little, it’s worth the change.

  4. A concern I would have with this is that teams may not be raising concerns which are things that should or need to be discussed because they don’t want to be seen as complaining or bringing up things that may be seen as unpopular opinions.

    It reminds me of something that came up when FOM started airing stuff from the drivers briefing a few years ago. It subsequently came out that having cameras there had completely changed the dynamic of those meetings in a way that was eventually seen as unhelpful which is why that ended up going away.

    I also think another, Maybe bigger issue is that fans are far too quick to jump on teams/drivers for raising any concerns regardless of how valid those concerns may actually be. A team raising an issue which they believe is a very valid concern isn’t whining or acting like a spoilt child… It’s simply asking a question & looking to ensure that everyone is following the rules as they should be. They all do, Always have & always will & let us not also ignore that over the years this practice has also caught people going a bit too far with certain things so it isn’t something that should be vilified or discouraged in any way.

    1. @stefmeister Some drivers still were vocal in those 2017 briefings that were filmed.

  5. It’s useful to be broadcast even if it can be totally cringe and hearing Wolff complain in that awful Austrian accent is something I can do without. At least it rules out the worst of the time-wasters or nepotists.

  6. It was fun while it lasted but yeah I suppose it had to end once the teams caught on that it can make them look bad. So I would think the use of the radio will be become more ‘professional’, and with that much more sedate except for the occasional slip.

  7. I think its more of a case of the broadcaster cherry picking conversations to cause the most controversy that annoys me the most.
    It’s exactly the same with the driver feeds – they just broadcast what they think will make things more “interesting” for fans.
    Frankly the conversations with Masi should be kept private & not broadcast at all – he seems hell bent on making himself centre of attention instead of quietly getting the job done.

    1. Coventry Climax
      1st July 2021, 1:59

      Agree – again.

  8. We already (or should’ve) know about this. I guess most fans just close their eyes and pretend f1 is not like this. I hope Masi is right on this one.

  9. Forget the radios and use scooters. Come on guys!

  10. Demanding red flags after a crash would be no problem at all. Just look at Baku…

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