Radio buttons, Hockenheimring, 2016

Radio ban to be lifted during races

2016 German Grand Prix

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Formula One’s controversial restrictions on radio communications during races are to be lifted, the Strategy Group has ruled.

McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2016
German GP Thursday in pictures
The restrictions were introduced following complaints drivers were receiving too much assistance with their driving from race engineers. They were enforced via a strict interpretation of articles 27.1 of the sporting regulations.

The FIA announced today that “at the request of the teams and commercial rights holder”, the FIA has agreed to adopt a more liberal approach to the interpretation of article 27.1 (that a driver must drive the car “alone and unaided”).

“With the exception of the period between the start of the formation lap and the start of the race, there will be no limitations on messages teams send to their drivers either by radio or pit board”.

“This approach is aimed at providing improved content for fans and spectators, as teams will now be required to provide the Commercial Rights Holder with unrestricted access to their radio messages at all times that their cars are out of the garages”.

2016 German Grand Prix

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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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  • 119 comments on “Radio ban to be lifted during races”

    1. I was hoping for changes but I do fear this will see a return of the driver coaching which brought all this on in the first place.

      1. Don’t forget tho @craig-o that drivers get all kinds of coaching in the garage and simulator. At least when it’s by radio we can hear it, and get some insights into what makes a driver faster or slower. And they still have to execute, just like other sportspeople who get coaching as a matter of course.

        1. But its rare for a sport to allow a coach on to the field mid game to give immediate advice to the sportsman.

          I mean fair enough, it is what it is. They tried to fix something that people were complaining about, and now they’re changing it back because people were complaining about the fix they tried. I think kudo’s should be given all round with that process…

          But the complaints wont stop for sure, people will always find something to complain about.

          1. f1 fan (@effvaanfaen)
            28th July 2016, 23:34

            What about in Football, coaching constantly… Cross country, coaching along the track…

          2. But its rare for a sport to allow a coach on to the field mid game to give immediate advice to the sportsman.

            The engineers aren’t actually entering the car or the race track to give advice though. They’re doing it from the sidelines, akin to a football manager shouting instructions from the touchline.

            1. I don’t think it really matters one way or another. Like as in, communication is better, or communication isn’t better. It’s just different. This whole topic has just been a whole bunch of hoohaa over nothing, let’s see how long they stick with this idea for or if they change it yet again in another 6 months time.

          3. On the contrary, most sports allow coaching from the sidelines. I am sure that only F1 prohibited coaching during practice.

            1. There’s a difference between coaching from the sidelines and coaching while actually performing. Name me one sport where the player has a headset to receive instructions from a coach mid game? Some even go to great lengths to prevent such signaling from the coaches like tennis or curling. The coaching from the sidelines equivalent in F1 would be like allowing them to have a chat during a pit stop, or in the F1 where they do driver changes and the driver out of the car can obviously chat to the team.

              It’s apples and oranges anyway.

            2. *wec

            3. “There’s a difference between coaching from the sidelines and coaching while actually performing. Name me one sport where the player has a headset to receive instructions from a coach mid game?”

              Road cycling. And it’s as controversial as it is in Formula 1, with some races having entirely banned it.

      2. Unfortunately the rule book couldn’t tell the difference between “coaching” and telling a driver his brakes are about to fail. If safety is the priority, then the rule has to go.

        1. And let’s see if it is just one driver’s radio comm we hear as he is being coached, making it seem like only he needs or uses the info. F1 selects what we get to hear. I hope we will now get to at least read it all again, a few days after the race, here on this site.

        2. Re: Brake failure – you think the engineers have not heard of a warning light????

        3. @drycrust

          “You need to brake earlier into turn 4” “Swap to setting 2B on brakes”

          One of those was a safety matter. If you can pick it, then I’ll agree the rules were the problem.

          1. Actually, both could be considered a safety matter. The important thing is a driver wasn’t told there was a problem with his brakes because someone decided it was against the rules. This situation shouldn’t have happened, but it did. Someone goofed. Like it or not, there isn’t a “backspace” key in motor racing, so the team has to be able to tell the driver.
            I don’t agree with coaching, the driver is the expert and the one in the car so he or she shouldn’t need coaching, but if a team can’t tell the difference between coaching and telling a driver his brakes are going to fail, then the rule book needs to be revised.

        4. Nonsense. The solution was simple: From team to driver you can provide information, but not direction. (With the exception of certain predefined items, such as “box now”, etc.) You can tell a driver his gearbox is failing, but not how to fix it. You can tell them that another driver is faster in a certain corner, but not what to do to improve their own performance.

          But this rule was never about preventing driver coaching. It was about giving Charlie a way to try and fiddle the outcomes of races. Had he actually wanted to ban driver coaching, the rule doing so would’ve been trivially easy to write.

      3. As Colin Chapman said “Rules are for the interpretation of wise men and the obedience of Fools”… a lot of F1 teams in history have won WC’s on interpretation of rules.

      4. And now we know how Bernie got his agreement not to run with the halo. He told the teams that if they voted the halo down, he’d get the radio ban lifted as a reward.

    2. Better just ban radio at all and leave pit boards. What a joke is this rule chaning every month.

      1. @osvaldas31 I couldn’t agree more. I HATED the kind of advice the engineers were telling to the drivers. I admit the complete radio ban had some specific issues, but man, before Austria everything was working just fine.

        Maybe it needed some fine tunning, to specify the situations where a conversation could happen freely. Like brakes failure. But I feel it’s a shame we’re going to free for all again.

    3. And stop using coded messages fans can’t decipher or know what they mean..!!!

      1. I’m feeling exo 71 to multisubset 1 about the whole thing

        1. To overcome that issue just ketchup your Marconi and cheese.

          1. That would just be truly awful. I mean, truly Multi-map 43

      2. Such as?

        1. Traverse (@hellotraverse)
          28th July 2016, 19:30

          Multi 21?

          1. @hellotraverse That was three years ago and everyone knows what it means! Anything more recent?

            1. Traverse (@hellotraverse)
              28th July 2016, 19:41

              Ferrari’s “-3.2 LFS6 P1” pitboard message to Vettel during the Melbourne GP.

            2. @hellotraverse, would it be possible for you to confirm when the team showed that pit board to Vettel? I’m pretty sure that the message isn’t in code at all – it’s just been abbreviated in order to fit it onto the board.

              The first line with the numbers “-3.2” is telling Vettel that Rosberg is 3.2 seconds behind him (the negative sign tells you it is a trailing driver, whereas a positive sign would indicate the gap to the driver in front). I think that the next line, with “LFS6”, is telling him that it is six laps before his next pit stop, whilst “P1” would have been his current position.

            3. Traverse (@hellotraverse)
              28th July 2016, 21:38

              I remember hearing that a rival team (apparently Williams) made the complaint regarding a potential rule infringement by Ferrari.

              Here’s a related article:

              Williams were never officially confirmed as the team that complained.

            4. ColdFly F1 (@)
              29th July 2016, 7:29

              “For the restart you should go to Yellow G6. When you do that you will automatically get the Red Button mode”
              (Russia 2015)
              I can do without these messages.

              But to me the worst part of this back flip is that the FIA once again has no spine (nor any idea) and is making a joke of the F1 rules. I absolutely detest BE, but at least you know what he stands for. Spineless Todt on the other hand stands for nothing, even a wind vane is more consistent.

          2. William Jones
            29th July 2016, 11:14

            @Traverse, I agree with you – it’s now known and confirmed that drivers had been coached to swear a lot on the radio, a “homemade” privacy button, and I’m damn sure that during the ban on driver orders, plenty of orders were given via a pre-agreed codeword.


            Messages like “Multi 21” give some of us a great deal of pleasure in decoding, as it brings us an understanding of the engineering and control systems in these cars that enhances our viewing.

    4. This has now gone too far the other way now. Driver coaching should be banned, everything else is fine.

      1. Yeah this is stupid again… Oh the joy of ‘use third gear in turn 3’ ‘brake 5 metres later’

        ‘what is Lewis’s brake balance into turn 1’

      2. This is my view on this too. Driver coaching was banned back in 2014, this is the way to go.
        But I like the thing that FOM will now have unlimited access to radio com. Hope they can build something on this with the broadcasters or maybe FOM alone on their website with the live commentary.

      3. Unfortunately those in charge can’t tell the difference between safety messages and coaching messages so we have to accept coaching messages because the consequence of no coaching messages is no safety messages.

    5. Another case of F1 making a knee-jerk decision then a knee-jerk reversal. The radio ban was fantastic for stopping messages which were detracting from the racing. All that was needed was for them to allow them to fix / be informed about critical faults without being penalised!

      1. @strontium I wonder if that’s a case of ‘easier said than done’? At least without writing reams of rules which cover a huge number of possible scenarios.

        1. F1 purportedly has cornered the market on the smartest people in racing. You’d think that if they put a few of those brains together they could come up with a workable middle ground between not being allowed to tell the driver their brakes are about to fail and having engineers tell drivers what precise steering angle, diff settings, and throttle feathering to use to maximize their friction profile.

          I want to see the drivers have to figure out on their own how to get the maximum performance out of the car. I don’t want to see Button and Perez suffering brake failures because their engineers aren’t allowed to tell them about it, and I don’t want to see Hamilton having to troubleshoot through the automotive equivalent of the Windows Services on his PC while driving around Baku. There has to be a middle ground between those extremes.

          1. “F1 purportedly has cornered the market on the smartest people in racing.”

            Richest does not equal smartest.

    6. A bit too far the other way perhaps but better than it was and it’s nice to see them listening.

      1. Launchedsquid
        28th July 2016, 21:10

        The FIA and FOM have always been listening to the fans, that’s the problem bcause we don’t know what we want.

        We wanted more overtakes so they gave us DRS, we wanted them to stop being so wasteful with engines and gear boxes so the introduced limits per season, we wanted more varied race strategies so they gave us tyres that degrade at different rates, we were sick of races being ruined by refueling problems so they banned them, we wanted to be the pinnacle of tech so they gave us hybrid power units, we wanted to end driver coaching so they brought in a radio ban, we think that the radio ban has too many other problems so they repeal it.

        The fans dislike at least some of these things, but we as a group asked for them. You can hate these rules but I think it’s unfair to suggest the FIA isn’t listening.

        1. Omg Launchedsquid
          Like totally nailed it!!!!
          FOM / FIA stop listening to the fans and concentrate on the sport being a sport.

        2. @Launchedsquid This is a classic case of the customer not always being right. Or to be clearer: the customer is always right about their pain points. The customer is not, however, always right about the best way to cure said pain.

          The FIA does need to listen on the pain points, but they need to actually use the expertise of the people on their own team to devise a well thought out solution.

        3. COTD!

        4. @Launchedsquid

    7. Formula 1 became such a joke, first they put restriction, now no restriction. Come on, guys! Maybe they should give Rosberg his second place back? Lewis’s second place in Baku (he would have had it, if team would’ve helped him), Jenson’s places he has lost probably he would have been 8 after Alonso, and all other drivers who suffered from this. Think of how Jenson feels, he got a drive-through in previous race for this, now he comes to Germany and the rule has been lifted, a complete joke. It reminds me about Schumacher’s overtake on Alonso in Monaco, when he got penalized after to find out a few days later that it was perfectly legal.

      1. Good point. I don’t think LH would have gained a spot from the info, nor was he given a penalty for anything, but JB and NR were. I don’t expect a reversal on any points lost though, as it was the rule at the time.

        1. LH was behind 2+ secs and approaching Perez, I believe, when he got the problem. That was going to be an easy pass, at minimum, that’s what Dmitry28 meant.

        2. Hey @robbie, my armchair analyser brother. Just one question. Why are you so anti Hamilton? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, just wondering why it is.

          1. @stubbornswiss I’m not ‘so’ anti-Hamilton, really. Much of the time I don’t mind him.

            The day he won his first Championship he did almost everything to lose it, while Massa did everyone right all weekend with the pressure at it’s greatest. So I never thought LH stamped his authority on it…just eked his way in.

            But it really started for me when he got bested by Button in 2011 and admitted off-track distractions were costing him on the track, and I thought that was very poor of him, on behalf of the sponsors and staff that spend hundreds of millions to provide him a vehicle (literally and figuratively) to himself become rich and famous. He did it again at the end of last year…WDC decided, my job is done, wish the season was over, party time…Nico gets the better of him and he still managed to whine for special treatment on the team via extreme strategies to try to get ahead of Nico, which thankfully they weren’t having. At the time we also heard all about the dirty air effect making it impossible for him to pass Nico, yet when he heads Nico he comes across like it’s all him. Thankfully he hasn’t played the ‘poor kid from Stevenage growing up on Dad’s couch’ card for a while. Truly poor kids don’t get to go karting at enough of a level that they end up in F1. So generally I find him as person disingenuine, so that makes it hard for me to admire him on the track. I don’t ‘admire’ any of the drivers in this era where I don’t believe they are performing great feats, but that’s not their fault, it’s F1’s.

            I’m pulling for Nico because I want to see his potential fulfilled, which has been to me too slow coming, but I’m no fanatic for him, and he is against a great driver in LH, and does seem to be making some progress. Wish he would stamp his authority on it more, and less awkwardly.

            Realistically all the drivers, I genuinely believe, are great guys…kind, charitable, intelligent, fun-loving, humorous professionals. But through the racing media and at times in the heat of the moment, as I said before, I find LH disingenuous, a little too full of himself, a little too self-promoting in a Kardashian kind of way, for me to believe in him.

            1. Just to add, the drivers I have been a fanatic for…Gilles, Ayrton, Jacques. Next could be Max. He’s exciting, and boy can he handle an interview. A bit of controversial behaviour on the track for a little spice. Can’t wait to see who excels in next year’s ‘pre-98’ style cars.

            2. So basically a bunch of made up BS in your head, ok then

      2. Dmitry28 Totally agree with you. Its like changing the rules half way through a game. In fact, its not like, it is!

    8. Zantkiller (@)
      28th July 2016, 19:25

      If fans don’t want to hear the coaching messages then just don’t broadcast them. It is that simple.

      1. It’s not that simple. It’s not that we (fans) don’t want to hear it … it’s that we (fans) don’t want the drivers getting coached on track. They can learn and get coached off–track, during their sim time and training. But once on track … leave’em alone to drive … no coaching.

        1. @riccarr In total agreement. During a race there should be only one piece of communication allowed…

          “Box. Box. Box.”

          Once the driver gets in to the pit, they can get all the tips, training, advice and coaching they need before being sent back out on track.


    9. petebaldwin (@)
      28th July 2016, 19:33

      So we’re back to drivers being told exactly where to brake etc? Surely they must realise that it’s easy to ban driver coaching but allow teams to help with settings?

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        28th July 2016, 19:34

        Having said that – I prefer unlimited radio to no radio and it’s great that unrestricted access must be given. They’ll start swearing again to block this so they should put a £500k fine and 3 penalty points on anyone who swears over the radio.

        1. That could be good. The FIA will have to make a definitive list of which words constitute swearing, and then we’ll be able to look up the rules and giggle like schoolgirls. I wonder how they’ll decide which words will be banned. Will it be only English words, leaving all other languages completely open? This could turn out to be top-class entertainment.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            28th July 2016, 20:14

            Well I guess whichever words they can’t broadcast live on TV. There must be a list already?

            Interesting you mention it though – I kept getting emails blocked at work from one company and couldn’t figure out why. When me and a guy from IT looked through the blocked emails, we found out it’s because their address was “Balls Road!”

            They had to load up the swear filter which was just a Word document with loads of swear words. There must have been 200+ words on there. Imagine your job is to create that list. :D

            1. f1 fan (@effvaanfaen)
              28th July 2016, 23:46

              So they can advertise massively for alcoholic beverages that kills tens of thousands each year but not broadcast “bad” words, this is what is called irony ?