FIA look to ban telemetry in 2016…I told you so

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I took some heat for suggesting that the real-time data harvesting teams currently engage in is the root cause of the driver coaching and over-use of the pit-to-car radio communication allowing the team to not only manage the race but actually manage the cockpit. It seems that I may not have been alone in my assertion as the FIA are now investigating banning data harvesting for 2016.

The ability to read and relay information from hundreds of on-car sensors in real time coupled with the current technical regulations that demand this kind of data in order to run the car has created prolific driver coaching in the past two years. This has begat a number of new radio ban lists from the FIA in order to clamp down.

My opinion was centered around allowing teams to harvest all the data they want in a blackbox-type recorder on the car to be examined after the race but to ban real-time data harvesting that can then be shared, again in real time, with the driver. I was accused of oppressing the sport’s reputation of being innovative with technology. My idea was thwarting innovative technology evolution of the sport. I’m not so sure I agree as my blackbox idea would allow for data harvesting as much as the team would like.

Regardless, the FIA are now looking at banning certain types of data leaving other types of data for on-car memory:

Methods to limit the telemetry channels sent in real-time from the car to the pits will be investigated.

The objective will be to restrict real-time data flow to signals essential to run the car. Any ‘monitoring’ or non-essential channels should only be logged to on-car memory.”

So there you have it. No, I’m no Delphic oracle but I will say that we were right about the new engine rules, the need for a reduced aero wing or the inclusion of a spec wing, the horror of DRS, and now the real-time data harvesting issue, not just driver coaching. I am also correct in suggesting that Mercedes have been one of the bigger abusers of driver coaching in recent memory.

Now, the FIA tried to issue a list of banned radio communication but as you would guess, teams weren’t happy about it…what!? are you against safety? Of course they are against it because these cars are so damned technical with their hybrid energy systems that the teams have to have this kind of real-time communication to keep the damned things running a full race. If the driver had 20 more idiot lights on the dash to tell him what to press when, we would be looking at safety issues…it’d be as bad a texting and driving.

Regardless, the FIA sent a notice to teams this weekend notifying them that they will institute a ban on radio communication in 2016. Here’s the list:

1.       Indication of a critical problem with the car, e.g. puncture warning or damage.

2.       Indication of a problem with a competitor’s car.

3.       Instruction to enter the pit lane in order to fix or retire the car.

4.       Marshalling information (yellow flag, red flag, race start aborted or other similar instructions or information from race control).

5.       Wet track, oil or debris in certain corners.

6.       Instructions to swap position with other drivers.

7.       Acknowledgement that a driver message has been heard.

8.       Lap or sector time detail.

9.       Lap time detail of a competitor.

10.     Gaps to a competitor during a practice session or race.

11.     “Push hard”, “push now”, “you will be racing xx” or similar.

12.     Helping with warning of traffic during a practice session or race.

13.     Giving the gaps between cars in qualifying so as to better position the car for a clear lap.

14.     Tyre choice at the next pit stop.

15.     Number of laps a competitor has done on a set of tyres during a race.

16.     Tyre specification of a competitor.

17.     Information concerning a competitor’s likely race strategy.

18.     Safety Car window.

19.     Driving breaches by team driver or competitor, e.g. missing chicanes, running off track, time penalty will be applied etc.

20.     Notification that DRS is enabled or disabled.

21.     Dealing with a DRS system failure.

22.     Change of front wing position at the next pit stop.

23.     Oil transfer.

24.     When to enter the pits.

25.     Reminders to check for white lines, bollards, weighbridge lights when entering or leaving the pits.

26.     Reminders about track limits.

27.     Passing on messages from race control.

28.     Information concerning damage to the car.

29.     Number of laps remaining.

30.     Test sequence information during practice sessions, e.g. aero-mapping.

31.     Weather information.

This is all well and good but code words will be used to relay commands that are banned under this list. The only way to reduce this driver coaching is to prevent data from being harvested that can be shared instantly with the driver. If that isn’t possible, then they have to have a serious re-think about these engine regulations because right now, they seem to complicated to run without driver coaching.


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I hope they do something. I really like the whole scene but, I find the racing mostly boring. The GP2 seems much more entertaining. I’m not sure why that is. Limiting data relayed to the drivers seems like a good idea to me. Make the driver make decisions on what he feels. I also don’t like the tire rule. If a driver is fast and is good at saving his tires, let him use that to his advantage. You could make the tires less durable so a pit stop is almost a necessity. That would make Steve Matchett happy. The… Read more »

peter riva

Ah, really for items 3, 4, 18, 24, 27? Seems to me these are safety items for ALL drivers.

peter riva

And next year, expect to see some really creative boards being hung out like in the old days – and will these be allowed around the back of the circuit (in the stands too)? “Hey, Lewis, go to the pits before you pass go…”

Shane Phillips

All I’m hearing when I read F1 regulation changes at the moment is ban, ban, ban

It’s a technological sport for heaven’s sake. Modern F1 cars are immensely complicated pieces of machinery, limiting what the engineers can tell the drivers is just stupid.


Exactly, every ban made the F1 worse and now they believe they can do it better trough countless bans. Really stupid.


I love the technology in F1. The issue isn’t too much technology, the issue is the lack of competitive racing. I don’t think this rule takes away from technology at all. It just leaves the race decision process up to the driver.

Negative Camber

I’m not sure I or the FIA are suggesting that the sport stand around arms akimbo doing back-of-napkin math for a sport such as F1 but real-time telemetry used to manage the cockpit is really exploiting technology (which is fine) but it is creating stale racing. Let them harvest as much data as they want for car development but stop managing braking points, shift points, bite points and every other facet that a driver normally has to manage on his own.


NC, I see your point but this is a team sport and the money is paid based on how the team finishes, right? Then what is so wrong about a team helping the driver to achieve the most that he can to win the race. If you want to make it more driver centric, then get rid of the constructor championship and have only the driver’s championship.


Great to read a blogger with a similar viewpoint Shane. It seems that we’re in a minority that sees nothing wrong with using the technology to help the driver get the most out of the car.
The only technology I’d restrict is the broadcasting of team/driver communication ;-)


Nobody likes a braggart Todd. ;)

Negative Camber

You’ll have to allow me some ground on this as most of the time I am usually accused of being completely off base regarding F1.


Ok, I’ll allow it just this once!

jiji the cat

About time

Cletus VanDamme

They should ban computers. Let them drive.

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