FIA bans driver performance radio communications

ESPN Staff
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The FIA has banned communication between teams and their drivers relating to the performance of the car.

Open to interpretation

  • While this is a step in the right direction for F1 the devil lies in the detail and we will not know more until Singapore. While drivers should be the ones driving their cars the ambiguity of performance is surely going to initially cause problems for this change.
  • Even after the FIA clarifies what is and is not permitted, teams will quickly find a way around this new directive and devise codes for outlawed communications. After all, it will be in their best interests to do so. There is also an overlap between performance, safety and strategy which may well make the rule a difficult one to police - tyre and brake temperatures are examples of variables which cover all three.
  • F1 needs to be wary of creating a minefield with what is a welcome regulation change aimed at improving the product and perception of the sport this season and beyond.
  • Nate Saunders

As part of the push to improve the overall product the FIA has acted to ban communications which appear to make driving in F1 seem too easy. The title fight between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton this year has seen various examples of each driver being fed information about where the other is quicker in relation to their own lap times, something which is commonplace up and down the grid.

Radio messages can also advise drivers where to make changes to aid car performance but FIA race director Charlie Whiting has written to all teams to say these messages will be banned with immediate effect. The FIA is citing Article 20.1 of its Sporting Regulations which states: "The driver must drive the car alone and unaided."

The message from Whiting read: "In order to ensure that the requirements of Article 20.1 of the F1 sporting regulations are respected at all times FIA intends to rigorously enforce this regulation with immediate effect. Therefore, no radio conversation from pit to driver may include any information that is related to the performance of the car or driver."

This has been prompted due to fears the amount of communication between drivers and their race engineers during races makes it seem like drivers are 'puppets' behind the wheel. One example which gained attention this season was Rosberg asking his race engineer for "driving advice" in Germany - a request not limited to the German but a majority if not all of F1's drivers.

Teams will still have the freedom to advise drivers on pit-stop strategies and safety issues,, while the FIA should ensure dramatic radio conversations remain for TV purposes. The ban is expected to be discussed further in Singapore to clarify what is and is not permitted.

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