F1 radio ban lifted from German GP onward

So we finally, really did it! You maniacs! Oh damn you!.

The radio ban has been lifted according to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and a somewhat more measured version of that story comes from the FIA:

“At the request of the teams and the 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 their cars are out of the garage.”

It brings to mind the concept of listening to radio chatter. Surely it you’re a NASCAR fan you’ve been enjoying that for years at the races but how much of that during a broadcast is adding to the excitement? I’m interested to know if you feel there is not enough, how much would you actually want? Broadcasters will have to listen and play back what they feel is salient to the broadcast but the world feed does inject them as well.

The folks and fans wanted less coaching, they got a ban and now we’re back to coaching. I’ll have to get my best Eva Marie Saint impersonation going here…“Is this what you want!!??”

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Yes. This is what I want. I didn’t like that ban at all and I’m willing to accept that I’m probably in the minority here.

The team can tell a driver all they want to brake later or turn sooner- but where the car goes and when still depends on the driver.


I’m in the same minority. Let the teams (including the driver) get the most out of the cars.
Just don’t broadcast it, because we’ll have all the whinging about ‘drivers being told how to drive’ again……

Tim C.

Yes . . . I’m a NASCAR. And, yes . . . I enjoy listening to the driver and pit communications. Especially when you are at the races and can scan different drivers. If you get a long, drawn out caution, you will hear all sorts of stuff being talked about. For me, it brings out the driver’s true personality. It’s much different than what you get when the driver is giving a formal interview. This is the reason I like Kimi in F1. Remember the “yes, yes, yes, leave me alone . . . I know what I’m doing”… Read more »


Knowing when to brake isn’t about common sense. Every driver is already braking at what they perceive to be the limit. Telling a driver that another driver is braking later than them in one corner, with the same car, tells them that there might be a little bit more there. If they just tried to brake later in evey corner, they’d end up in the gravel, because in most cases they ARE braking a the limit.


Now for the big question. Why is it that no top level driver has a coach? Top level sportsmen and women in other disciplines all have coaches to help them improve, what is it about racing drivers that makes them believe they know best and cannot learn from others?


Their Race Engineers play that role, in part. Together they analyse the telemetry, looking the timing of brake application, pressure, throttle on/pressure. steering input, etc. They use this to fine tune what the driver is doing in the cockpit to get a little more out of it. They also talk strategy and tactics. On the other hand, they don’t discuss things like race-craft, but that’s maybe more art than science and thus not as subject to coaching. I think most pro-athlete coaching is about the mechanics of performing. Getting the tuck right, spotting your landing point etc. And arguably, by… Read more »


But with the massive realtime telemetry being output by each car, and processed in offsite UK HQ data centers, and then relayed back to the pit (or maybe just to race engineers sitting in HQ), there is logically plenty of individual coaching going on at all times. In fact there’s no reason other than coaching to construct such a massive and somewhat hidden realtime back-end operation. I’m in no way opposed to essential safety-oriented telemetry, but the IT operations currently in place support something far, far more pervasive than mere safety…. namely driver coaching. I can guess at the conversations… Read more »


This month’s Motorsport Magazine podcast has Damon Hill as the guest. He was asked about how much he learned from data logging. When Hill was testing for Williams data logging was relatively new, so he was able to compare his traces with Mansell, Prost and Senna. He said that there was surprisingly little difference in the high speed corners, but the big difference was in the low speed sections. However it was one thing to see a difference on the speed graph and another to understand what the driver was doing that enabled them to carry the extra speed. It… Read more »


Very good point Dave. The drivers would have to be amazingly technically savvy and self aware to be able to analyse the capabilities of the car and its components, interpret the analysis of their driving and then devise and implement strategies to optimise all of these things to extract the maximum possible performance of the car, and do that without any guidance does seem extremely unlikely. Maybe there are driver coaches tucked away in the teams, or other roles that help the drivers to hone their skills………


Right, but this is much more than mere logging and data analysis. This is realtime big data operations during the course of the race, with the express objective of coaching the driver realtime over the radio. Data logging for post-race review? No problem. Everyone does that. Realtime analysis via remote data centers? Something entirely different.


I recall the Grosjean got a coach to help him out of his ‘first corner nutter’ behaviour. That obviously worked well. It is surprising if there aren’t other drivers with driving skills and mental skills coaches, after all they do have personal trainers and dietitians.
Maybe they have them, but don’t like to talk about it.
I understand that Paul Charsley has been helping Filippe Nasr in his battle against ‘The Swede’ at Sauber

Tom Firth

Don’t particularly mind rescinding this rule but I do mind why that at a time F1 has several fundamental issues, that once again at a meeting of the ‘strategy group’ it was dominated in the agenda by something so pathetically insignificant. Place a rule that is explicit and states something like ‘if the car is in a state that it is an exceptional risk to the driver, or another participant, then radio communication is allowed subject to the team then supplying data to confirm that is the case afterwards’ Problem solved. No egg on face of FIA rulemakers, as once… Read more »


I think the fact the the commercial rights holder now has access to all communications is the more important point here. I don’t know what kind of rules there about what and when they can broadcast coms, but it possibly puts them in the position of being able to ‘out’ teams strategies. That mere fact might actually limit what teams WANT to say over the radio.

Anyway it will be interesting and will have consequences far beyond what anyone expects, so I’m sure we’ll have a different version of the ban next year.


Sounds good to me.


F1 can’t seem to help itself from swinging between the extreme ends of every issue. We got restrictions to the communication because some drivers were heard blatantly asking for driving tips, which led to a fairly sensible restriction – tell the driver whatever you like, except for explicit driving instruction (tips on lines, braking points etc) and times against the team mate through individual corners. That worked fine, and for most of 2015 we didn’t hear much more about it. But come 2016 someone thought it necessary to increase the restrictions – as if the problem hadn’t already been solved… Read more »

Guy Fawkes

Now the American feed will once again ring with the sounds of Hobbes and Matchett trying to figure out the meaning of a radio message with some arcane setting. And, having no idea, making something up. I love Hobbes, Matchett and Diffey but THAT gets a bit ridiculous.

Wayne Kreps

I can listen to my NASCAR driver while watching at home via a phone app. Anything that gets a fan closer to their particular driver and what is happening is great. It’s like insider information and to me it heightens the race fan experience. Let’s face it, we want to know what’s going on with our driver, that’s why we pick a favorite driver to root for. I think this issue will be revisited again. If the drivers are being told when to brake, shift, etc to improve their position then that makes F1 look bad. Coming in as a… Read more »