Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

Unheard team radio highlights from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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The radio waves were filled with drivers scheming, strategising and complaining during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Aside from Fernando Alonso and George Russell both engaging in a shadow battle over whether the gap between them at the chequered flag would sit at more or fewer than five seconds, there was an interesting discussion at McLaren as they tried to avoid Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris both holding each other up at different points in the race.

Here are some of the team radio highlights you may not have heard from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Tsunoda ‘passes’ Ocon under the Safety Car

During the Safety Car period, Yuki Tsunoda emerged from the pits as Esteban Ocon was passing by in his Alpine. Ocon went by the AlphaTauri, but Tsunoda re-passed him, leading to some confusion over which driver should be ahead.

Lap: 13/50
Tsunoda Tyres are quite consistent.
Lap: 17/50
Spini Box, box, Safety Car, follow the reference, box now.
Lap: 18/50
Ocon I’ve been overtaken by the AlphaTauri just now. Spini We are fighting pit exit, so full throttle until Safety Car line.
Peckett Okay, copy that. We’ll have a look. Spini And now you follow the reference, follow the reference. Mode 14, mode 10.
Peckett We’ll advise accordingly Spini Okay Yuki, at the restart the struggle with the front tyres with this compound, so we need weaving as much as possible, and offset four, please.
Peckett Okay mate so we’re going to hold position where we are. Think Tsunoda was just ahead so hold position please. Tsunoda I was close there, Ocon, so please check, make sure I was [ahead]
Spini We are checking now.
Tsunoda I was in the front though, I think.
Spini Yuki we were ahead, so keep the position.

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McLaren manage their battling drivers

Lando Norris, McLaren, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
It was a frustrating day for McLaren as first Oscar Piastri, then Lando Norris had to pit early in the race for repairs. That left both near the tail of the field.

The team ensured the pair didn’t get in each other’s way, first by telling Piastri (engineer Tom Stallard) not to hold up his team mate when Norris (engineer Will Joseph) was on fresher tyres:

Lap: 23/50
Joseph DRS enabled, DRS enabled. Stallard We want to get de Vries. If we can’t get de Vries, we’ll have to let Lando have a go, so let’s try to get de Vries now.
Stallard And if Lando attacks, do not make it too difficult.
Lap: 24/50
Joseph Oscar is trying to get de Vries, but he would not make it difficult for you Stallard Strat seven.
Stallard Oscar, do you think we’ll be able to overtake?
Piastri If he drops out of DRS, yes.
Lap: 25/50
Joseph De Vries next on a seven-lap-old hard. Stallard Lando’s on new mediums from the safety car, that’s not a problem. We’re [unclear] de Vries, we’ll give you a chance.

Later on as Norris’ tyres began to fade, Piastri moved to pass his team mate who defended his positions. McLaren then told Norris not to lose more time holding his team mate back, and Piastri soon re-passed him:

Lap: 45/50
Joseph Lando, do not make it too difficult for Oscar. Stallard Oscar, Lando has now been told not to make it too difficult. Five laps to go

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Engine drama strikes Stroll

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
Lance Stroll was leaning on his power unit hard while trying to ensure he got ahead of Carlos Sainz Jnr when he suffered a race-engine failure which led to an urgent call for him to retire.

Lap: 14/50
Michell Okay Sainz is in our pit window so push
Stroll Need more strat
Michell No energy Lance, you need K0, you need to use K0 to come up the pack.
Lap: 15/50
Michell Lance, we have an issue, so stop pressing energy and use K0 when you can.
Michell Sainz is pitting, we need everything.
Stroll I [unclear] deployment
Lap: 16/50
Michell We know mate, we’re monitoring, do the K0 when you can in the middle of the lap, do what you can. No energy presses, Lance.
Michell Do what you can with the K0 Lance, we’re monitoring.
Michell Keep doing what you’re doing, Lance, keep trying to do what you’re doing. We’re monitoring.
Michell Sainz three seconds ahead is on his new hard tyre, and you’re clear of Albon DRS, he’s 1.3 behind.
Lap: 17/50
Michell And Lance, you can K0 22 and 27, and 13.
Michell Stop the car. Lance, stop the car. Stop on track, Lance, stop the car.
Stroll Okay.
Michell Lance, stop in a safe position on track, we see smoke, stop in a safe position on track. Stop the car. Stop the car. And then P0 reminder, we must have P0 when you get out of the car. I’m sorry, mate. Sorry, mate. But we must have P0 when you stop the car, please.
Michell Okay Lance, car is safe. Car is safe

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Leclerc’s exasperation

The Safety Car triggered by Stroll’s retirement was bad news for Charles Leclerc, who had already pitted. He was then infuriated by a late instruction from his race engineer to stay close to Lewis Hamilton, who got ahead of him through the pits:

Lap: 17/50
Automated message Safety Car deployed, stay positive.
Marcos Padros And stay out, stay out. Stroll stopped at turn 13. Stay out. Charge button on. Charge on.
Leclerc Agh..
Lap: 18/50
Leclerc Tell Carlos to stay close to the delta.
Marcos Padros Copy.
Marcos Padros And the only car we will lose to is Max, okay. And we need mode Safety Car.
Marcos Padros Double yellow turn 13.
Leclerc Who is behind us, who will be behind us?
Marcos Padros I will come back to you.
Marcos Padros So it will be Ocon behind us.
Marcos Padros Charles, at the moment behind us will be Sargeant, 17 lap-old hards for Sargeant.
Marcos Padros And try to push from Safety Car line one for Hamilton, he just pitted.
Lap: 19/50
Leclerc Xavi, you should have told me that before!
Marcos Padros Copy.
Leclerc No, but come on!
Marcos Padros And charge button off. So Hamilton is on the medium

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Hulkenberg’s balance struggles

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
Nico Hulkenberg was another driver grappling with a damaged car after the start of the race.

Lap: 1/50
Hulkenberg There’s some big piece of carbon went into my front wing. Check front wing
Gannon Understood, checking front wing. Mode push when you can.
Gannon Aero is all okay for now.
Lap: 2/50
Gannon Possible debris turn two to turn five.
Gannon Okay, you’re P12. That’s Verstappen behind, let’s get into a rhythm.
Lap: 3/50
Gannon DRS enabled.
Gannon Tyres are looking good. Both McLarens had to pit for nose changes, they’re both on hard now.
Lap: 18/50
Hulkenberg Low speed is funny. Turn one I feel very light on the rear at entry, then a lot of understeer mid-corner.
Gannon Okay. Yeah. Copy that. We’ll look at it. Anywhere else you need help? Special problems
Hulkenberg Well turn 13 just feels very low-grip. I can’t push the entry, I’m just sliding. It’s not easy to get early on the power of the exit.
Gannon Yeah. Copy that.
Lap: 25/50
Hulkenberg I need stability at turn 13
Gannon Understood, we’ll get you something.
Hulkenberg On entry, especially on entry.
Gannon Shape three, and you can use right toggle.
Lap: 27/50
Hulkenberg I have a crazy amount of understeer in turn nine.
Gannon The biggest loss to Kevin is six, seven. Nine you are a little slower, but 10 you’re gaining.
Gannon Func[tion] two could help nine.
Lap: 28/50
Hulkenberg Six and seven I’m managing a lot, I’m saving my tyres. But nine is just understeer-crazy.
Gannon Understood.
Gannon We think you can use the tyre in six-seven for lap time.
Race end
Gannon Good lap there Nico and good job. Didn’t get any luck with the Safety Car timing. But holding off Sergeant was really impressive with no DRS, that was a good run. Kevin got 10th, So we got that first point for Haas today.
Hulkenberg Yeah. Great. Good job guys. Happy for that. Kevin did a good race. Not bad for us either. A couple of things didn’t go as good as they should, maybe, but all fun and learning, eh? I felt it was not a bad effort. Let’s do it again.
Steiner Good job Nico, it’s Guenther. Next time we have got both in the points, it’s possible. Good job. Thank you for hanging in there.
Hulkenberg No worries Guenther, that’s what we’re here for. Thank you. Good job.

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Mercedes pressure Alonso

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
In the final laps of the race Mercedes told their fourth and fifth-placed drivers to push on in pursuit of third-placed Fernando Alonso, hoping he would get a penalty. George Russell’s new engineer, Marcus Dudley, encourages his driver to “push like a madman”.

Lap: 44/50
Dudley So gap ahead 4.7, let’s not let that grow.
Lap: 45/50
Cronin Last lap, Russell was a tenth quicker. Gap to him is 4.9 seconds. Six more laps, six.
Cronin Last lap Russell same pace.
Alonso Copy. Let’s go to six seconds between us.
Cronin Copy that. So Russell currently 4.9.
Cronin So Fernando it’s five to go. All Safety Car windows are closed. All Safety Car windows are closed. Five more laps.
Lap: 46/50
Alonso Copy.
Cronin Keeping tyre temp is good, but you have got five… four-and-a-half… 4.7 seconds to Russell.
Lap: 47/50
Dudley So gap ahead 4.6, Alonso has just been given the hurry-up, so let’s push on hard, close up to him. Cronin Last lap Russell similar pace. Russell similar place.
Dudley Four to go. So it could be a possible five-second penalty for Alonso end of the race. Gap 4.5.
Russell Maximise battery
Lap: 48/50
Hamilton What is the fastest lap currently? Dudley Yeah copy that we’ll let you know on Strat modes. Cronin So that’s Bottas ahead he should get blue flags, you’re 2.1 behind him, Russell 4.6 behind, three more laps, three more laps.
Bonnington And that’s a 32.2. And just think about running a bit more speed entry turn 27, late entry, more speed Dudley Gap ahead 4.4. Got Valtteri in between the two of you now. Cronin So currently Russell is 4.3 behind. Be nice to have five seconds just in case. But we think we’re all clean.
Dudley Gap to Valtteri ahead 2.7.
Russell Let’s get [unclear].
Lap: 49/50
Hamilton What position am I in? Dudley Fastest lap is a 32.2. Gap 2.8 to Valtteri. Cronin You can go to strat [unclear] couple of tenths. Strat five gives you a couple of tenths.
Bonnington Currently P5. Dudley 4.8. Alonso I think we’re okay. How many laps?
Bonnington And George a 32.8 last lap. Russell Is he getting a penalty or not? I’m pushing like a [unclear] Cronin Two more to go. Two more laps.
Hamilton Time Dudley There’ll be one to go at the end of this. Just keep pushing like a madman. Cronin Russell 4.7 behind, 4.7.
Bonnington You’ve got 5.2 behind. Dudley Gap 0.6. Alonso He will find Bottas as well.
Hamilton My front’s pretty bad.

George Russell narrowly fell short of staying within five seconds of the Aston Martin and Lewis Hamilton didn’t manage to keep inside 10 seconds. It proved moot, however, for although Alonso was initially penalised it was later rescinded.

Lap: 50/50
Bonnington So just keep the pace up. Don’t know who’s going to have a penalty. Dudley Gap ahead 5.0. Strat five. Cronin Okay one more lap,
Unidentified Who’s had a penalty Russell What’s the gap?
Bonnington That’s just traffic. Dudley 5.0.
Dudley 5.2.
Dudley 4.7. Overtake available.
Russell Early or late?
Race end
Hamilton Is that the chequered flag Dudley Early. Gap 5.1. Cronin You can do a push and hold on the energy button, you can do a push and hold.
Bonnington It is chequered flag. Dudley Okay that’s P4. Gap in the end there was 5.1. Cronin Well done mate, well done. Just watch Russell there, he’s fast. 5.1 to Russell, good job. You can go to cool on run switch, take the pick up.
Bonnington Okay Lewis well done that’s P5. Bit of hectic race but great drive there. Can I have HPP1 position 14 please Russell Ah. Alonso Well done, guys. Fantastic. Sorry for the start. But we made that time in the first stint.
Hamilton Fantastic effort today, this weekend, guys, thank you so much for continuing to push. We’re not where we want to be, but we’ll get there. Let’s keep pushing. Thanks. Dudley Close. Cronin Yeah well done mate, that’s proper driving, well done.
Wolff Lewis great recovery drive. It’s getting better. Russell Did he get a penalty or not? Alonso I still need to buy some beers in Australia. Well done guys, well deserved.
Hamilton Thanks Toto. Dudley We’ll have to see after the race. Cronin So take all the pick up and stop on the grid.
Russell Well done, guys. I think I did a well maximised weekend, especially looking back at Bahrain. Work to do but I think we did a really good job with the package we had. So good job. Alonso What happened to Lance?
Dudley Yeah nice work all weekend. Well done. Cronin So we’re not too sure yet, he had a car problem but not too sure yet.
Russell Green one position 14 Alonso Copy.
Dudley Green one position 14. Alonso Well done. I cannot believe two podiums, two races. What an amazing car and job you are doing, guys. Let’s go.

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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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5 comments on “Unheard team radio highlights from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix”

  1. A driver complaining is all but unheard of.

  2. That gaffe with Leclerc and Hamilton just shows that, though Inaki is gone, Ferrari still has not gotten on top of their track operations/race strategy. I mean how hard is it to be closely monitoring a threat from pit lane to your car? Not hard. I was glad Leclerc said “‘No, but come on!” It just punctuated that they’re still making errors without straying into the territory of whiny meltdown.

  3. Interesting comms, especially the Ocon-Tsunoda one that also went entirely unseen on the world feed.

    1. Hell, on F1TV they never even showed us that Gasly put Piastri into the wall. Went the whole race without knowing. Gasly likely deserved to get a penalty and his one-race suspension.

      1. Sorry. Making contact with Piastri. Not putting him into the wall I meant to say. And I take it back. A racing incident even though I think Gasly didn’t give him enough room and it was a little dirty.

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