Elimination of team radios?

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    Edd Straw on Autosport (http://plus.autosport.com/premium/feature/5752/radio-silence-would-transform-f1/ you may need an Autosport membership) wrote about the elimination of radio transmissions and giving that extra degree of control back to the driver (i.e. saving tyres, fuel, etc. will all be driver dependent and not determined by the team). This way, it’s up to the driver to determine when to attack, when to back off, when to pit, etc. I like the idea, but then again, I’ve always been someone who’s not that great at considering all the consequences/repercussions of an action, so I wanted to see what you guys thought.

    It adds that layer of “unpredictability” which I don’t think is artificial… after all, didn’t F1 drivers only rely on pitboards back in the day? I don’t think it’s wise to eliminate radios entirely (i.e. safety reasons) but if radio traffic is minimized, it’s a lot easier to monitor whatever little traffic there is; I’d be okay with drivers being able to call radio the pits (i.e. need more front wing, need pressure adjustment, pit stop this lap, etc.) and the pits only being able to radio the driver if they see a failure or safety issue of some sort (i.e. tyre deflation, engine/gearbox issue which requires the car to be shut down, etc.).

    Like I said, I like the idea, but I know I’m failing to look at the negatives. In a time where F1 is becoming too complex, I think it’d be nice to simplify it and remove some elements that can make the racing more exciting (apart from aerodynamics, which is just beating a dead horse at this point).


    I think that’s a fantastic idea! *cough*

    One of the biggest objections could be driver safety. Hence I would allow drivers to talk to Charlie Whiting, and Charlie could talk to all drivers. As such, he can warn them about for instance an accident up ahead (something that was made clear in the WTCC race in Macau…). But for the rest, I see no reason why it can’t go ahead.


    @andae23 I’d be interested to hear why you think it’d be a good thing for F1 to adopt. Personally, I can’t see how it would really make much of substantial difference to the racing or the ‘challenge’ of being an F1 driver. If anything, I can only see it causing all sorts of unnecessary complications.


    I think it’s a rubbish idea and a bit of a knee-jerk one.

    Team radio is just about the only way we hear the drivers talking without the PR filter. That’s part of why the team radio transcripts on here have been hugely popular this year.

    But it also shows how much of an appetite there is for getting a true understanding of what the drivers are actually doing in the car. It’s a vital insight we’d be much poorer without.

    Besides which, I doubt they’d get rid of it anyway because it’s too important for safety reasons.


    I hope team-to-driver goes, but the other way round stays. Let drivers tell the teams what they feel about the track, the tyres etc, but drivers should be able to know when to use KERS etc


    Definitely wouldn’t want the team radios scrapped. If this had happened in previous years, we’d never have heard JB’s audition for a Queen covers band, or Mark Wibbah showing his approval at winning a race with an old rear wing or other such broadcasts. It has been a great addition. Definitely wouldn’t want to see that gone.


    @magnificent-geoffrey I agree that the changes it will make are not that obvious to the viewers – if anything it would make the canyon between drivers and fans even bigger. Perhaps it would get rid of subtle ‘Felipe is faster than you’ team orders, who knows. But for me, the major difference it would make is something much deeper than that. Perhaps it’s just the knowledge of knowing drivers are in total control of their car, it just makes me appreciate the title of being a ‘World Champion’ a lot more than now.

    Currently, teams consist of hundreds of employees, all of which push themselves to the limits for finding a gain in lap time of the order 0.001 seconds. Though I appreciate their noble quest, to me that’s not sexy at all; neither is the idea of having drivers being told exactly what to do. Of course it’s not true at all what I’m about to say, but to me it feels like drivers are just turning the wheel an odd 20 times per lap, while those hundreds are looking after his car for him. The team manages the car, the drivers just has to keep it on the grey stuff.

    What I want from a Formula 1 drivers is someone who is in perfect harmony with his car. Someone who knows exactly how the car works and how he should react if one of the car’s many parameters crosses a boundary. I don’t want to hear the team tell the driver to switch to engine mode four: I want the driver to observe that there is a (potential) problem, think about it and make the correct decision on his own, while travelling at absurd speeds. In my opinion, a Formula 1 driver should be in full control of his car.

    As a measurable result, the drivers become much more ‘intelligent’, i.e. in the post-race interviews we will hear them tell how they managed to keep the gearbox alive, or how another driver kept worrying about his engine temperature every time he drove through sector two and how he adapted to this new situation. I can’t be bothered with drivers saying they got good points, how the backmarkers were constantly in his way and how happy he is for the team. Generally speaking the drivers become much more interesting to listen to, whether it is in a post-race interview or in an interview in fifty years time.

    So perhaps it doesn’t add any difference to the racing, but nevertheless for me it would add a lot of value to Formula 1. The car should merely be a tool, and the driver should be the one operating it as soon as the car leaves the pit lane. The drivers’ championship should not be won by the driver that can drive his car the best, but by the one that can use his car the best.

    Or maybe I’m just being a nostalgic twat with unrealistic ideas on how to improve present day F1.


    @keithcollantine True enough, the radio is where we see the drivers’ personalities come through, like what @spud mentioned, and without radio we would’ve missed hilarious moments like ‘Fernando is faster than you’ and ‘leavemealoneiknowwhatimdoing’.

    Keith: I’m assuming that you think radio silence would have little to no impact on the racing itself? I understand why you’d want to keep it, but I’d be willing to give up that little insight into the drivers’ personalities if it made the racing better. Whether this would actually make it better is beyond me, but I like the idea of the drivers being more in control of everything rather than instructions being given from the pitwall.

    @andae23 Hah, looks like you share my perspective. I don’t read every article here so you’ll have to forgive me for missing that comment =). To add to what you said, it could potentially hinder some drivers, since there was at least one Grand Prix this year where a driver was receiving tips from their engineer as to where they can find a little more time (I want to say it was Smedley radioing Massa the tips, but I can’t say that with 100% confidence). While I understand F1 is a team sport, I think finding ways to drive the car faster need to come down to the driver.

    Oh well, I thought it was an interesting point to share with you guys, thanks for the input, and hopefully we’ll get more from fellow Fanatics.

    R.J. O’Connell

    Drivers did indeed have to rely on pitboards once upon a time. They also raced with open-faced helmets, sat in a car without seatbelts on top of fragile fuel cells, and drove on circuits with flimsy armco barriers and staffed by marshals and safety workers that were horrendously slow to respond. Interestingly enough, there are no articles speculating what F1 would be like if those other things were re-introduced. Because like a two-way radio ban, they’re all bad ideas.

    James Whiteley

    Does anyone know when team radio was first introduced? I’d guess sometime in the mid 80s.


    I’m on the fence about the necessity of team radio.

    I agree with @andae23 that “the idea of having drivers being told exactly what to do” is not sexy. F1 drivers are my heroes but I would be even more impressed of their greatness without these constant instructions on the team radio. I think Edd Straw is also right by saying that forbidding it would more likely improve the quality of racing than any simple changes to technical regulations. Compared to ‘Abu Double’, it would certainly be a good solution.

    On the other hand, getting rid of the team radio would be an artificial step backwards, we would be robbed of many classic moments / quotes and get even less insight into how the drivers really are.

    Anyway, I don’t think teams are going to agree to outlaw pit-to-car radio so the F1 Strategy Group will have to think of other ways to “spice up the show”. I really hope they come up with something better than more hashtags and more pit stops…


    I have always preferred sports were the the competitors are better off if they could use their brains, not just relying on speed, strength, reflexes etc. I am all for banning team-to-driver radios. Drivers could talk to their teams all they want, and the race director could inform drivers of things related to safety (teams could also send safety-related messages through him).

    Now let’s see pros and cons:
    – Since the driver-to-team link is still on, we would not be robbed of classical quotes, thus answering concerns raised by @keithcollantine. Ok, I admit that the “Oh deer” conversation would be less amusing if only one-sided connection was on, but there’s no gain without small sacrifices.
    – Since the drivers would have to make strategic decisions and feel the car, there would be more opportunity for driver quality to come through.
    – Since drivers are not as good as computer supported teams of analysts, mistakes would be made in strategy, making for more exciting and unpredictable races.

    Re: @rjoconnell: Your argument is faulty. The things you mention (helmets, safety belts,…) improved safety and did not relieve drivers of their duties, did not help them racing. That’s why they are completely irrelevant in the present situation, when a change is proposed that would not harm safety and restore traditional drivers’ responsibility back to them.
    If you are looking for some examples from the past, try traction control. This was a change that did not improve safety, but made the life of drivers easier. It was/is banned. A good precedent I’d say.


    @rjoconnell Well, re-introducing those have not been proposed because, like you said, it’s a bad idea and would make racing more dangerous for the drivers. With radio, I mentioned that it can stay for safety purposes (i.e. for a team to communicate to driver to shutdown the car, etc.) but it would solely be for safety/emergency purposes.

    @ph Looks like we’re thinking similarly on this topic. It’s impossible to say how it would improve the racing unless this rule was actually implemented, but I think I would’ve given up “leavemealoneiknowhatimdoing” and other fun race quotes for more fun races. There’s insight into the driver’s mind and personality, which radio delivers, and then there’s insight on the driver’s ability to adapt, strategize, improve and execute a flawless race, which would be clearer without any team-to-driver radio.


    I think Vettel2Rocky (or Alonso2Stella, or Massa2Smedley, or Kimi2Parmane, wait a second….) should stay.

    Car-to-pit transmissions, though, if possible, should go (apart from cameras). I think that would make the race less predictable, and, since gauges would be in the cockpit, drivers would be able to, instead of having to keep obeying his team like the man compared to which Fernando was faster at Hockenheim in 2010, make their own decisions based on what they read on the gauges (if they do read it), and make their own, perhaps risky, decision, and it’d be thrilling for the audience to see those decisions made.

    p.s. Newey’s Red bulls are dominant? If so, why hasn’t Red bull managed a 1-2 >1 lap ahead of their rivals? :)


    One problem with getting rid of radio communication is that teams will find other ways of communicating with their drivers, who will then have to peer into the cockpit to find information about brake temperatures, tyre pressures, gaps to drivers in front and behind, pit stop strategies, etc. Of course, the FIA can try to put a ban on drivers receiving any information by any other means than the pit board, but in my opinion Formula 1 has far too many rules already.

    I also don’t mind the current instructions from the pit wall. Perhaps people do not want to hear messages of “save the tyres”, but then I think the problem is more that there is such a need for tyre preservation. All in all, I would like to be able to listen to more team radio, rather than less.

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