FIA to clamp down on start procedures

I was reading Adam Cooper’s story about the changes to the starting procedure of Formula 1 races starting at the Belgium Grand Prix this year. It seems the FIA have had enough of radio chatter aiding the drivers and they now aim to clamp down on the matter. Adam said:


“From now on the clutch bite point may not be changed from the time the car leaves the garage for the first time after the pit lane is open on the day of the race, until after the start lockout period after the race has started.

In addition bite point finder activation by the driver has to be inhibited by disabling any driver button or switch associated with that function. The FIA adds that the “bite point update from the bite point finder should be disabled by setting BBitePointFinderUsed to zero.”

The FIA says that all pit-to-car communications during any reconnaissance or formation laps will be limited to safety and sporting information, so in other words there can be no discussion of start procedures.

The only permissible radio conversations during those pre-race laps will involve indication of a critical problem with the car, such as puncture warning or damage, an indication of a problem with a competitor’s car, an instruction to enter the pit lane in order to fix or retire the car, marshalling information (for example yellow flag, red flag, race start aborted or other similar instructions), information regarding a wet track, oil or debris in certain corners, or finally instructions to swap position with other drivers, for example if someone is late off the dummy grid.

The FIA says that any other message at these times would be considered a breach of Article 20.1 of the Sporting Regulations.”


So it brings up a question which is centered on the topic. Radios have been around a long time in F1 and while they have been instrumental for many reasons, they now seem way too effective at impacting the race.

It’s not the radio chatter that has somehow changed, it’s the amount of real-time data the engineers can glean from the car and relay back to the driver. So as not to overload the driver with steering wheel information, they simply help the driver with clutch bite points and more.

The fact is that it is the car technology and amount of data that teams can harvest that has changed the situation. So banning radios seems a bit draconian for obvious reasons but would a ban on real-time data or the types of data that teams can harvest from cars equally be a daft rule? Maybe simply banning the act of revealing that data is the easiest way to do this but then you have code words and such nonsense.

Adam’s article rightfully focuses more on the procedures and new rules about changing clutch setting but I was intrigued by this entire radio banning situation in context to driver aids etc.

So how does F1 manage this wave of data? Is the Genie out of the bottle?

Hat Tip: Adam Cooper

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The issue is that the engineers (as they are known to do) have made things way more complex than they need to be. This now causes hugely complex cars that are “easy” to drive but require so much fiddling that the drivers spend half a lap turning knobs and pushing buttons.

I mean look at this! Good grief.

Andreas Möller

That picture kind of says it all, doesn’t it? Remove most of that, and then they can chat all they like over the radio. IIRC, the reason for all those buttons and dials is because pit-to-car telemetry (the ability for the engineers to remotely make adjustments on the car’s settings) was banned. So then the drivers became button-pushers for the engineers, who over the radio told them which settings to go to. But maybe they should have stopped and thought about whether or not they should be able to adjust the differential, brake balance and torque map individually for each… Read more »


As far as I am concerned all driver adjustable things like brake bias, throttle, diffs, etc should be unchangeable after FP3. This would allow the “real” drivers to showcase their skills and strategies.

Andreas Möller

In that case, you’re welcome to the “old farts’ club”. It’s you, me, and I think I saw Todd somewhere too 8^)


Old in spirit maybe! I am still a strapping young lad with decent pecs and a honesty problem ;).

But anyways I have a real problem with making things more complex for no good reason. For example, auto sensing headlights and wipers. I mean why?! if you cannot be trusted to know when to turn on your wipers and headlight than you should not be trusted to operate a car.


Paul KieferJr

Admittedly, I’m an old fart, but even in NASCAR, I didn’t see this much on the dashboard.


Personally I like the idea of an engineer adjusting the car as if is racing, but only if he is in the car. Bring back riding mechanics.
Fighter pilots have navigators to control all their on board electronics, leaving them free to fly the aircraft. So why not let the drivers drive the car while a passenger adjusts the electronics. Ban all radio communication between car and pit (both ways), with the only communication to the car being the pit board.

Andreas Möller

Ohh – goggles and oily faces post-race. And a passenger/engineer to pump the fuel. Now we’re talking… :-p


Well, it would remove the need to restrict the fuel flow rate, just leave it to how fast the mechanic can pump…
Perhaps the driver and mechanic would need to do any work required on the car using the tools they carry on board. Maybe I’m wandering into the realm of fantasy…

Paul KieferJr

You can always make adjustments in the pits as long as the driver is feeding the information to the engineer as usual (remembering that those adjustments do take time).

The Captain

So while we’re at it would it be too much to ask to make them have to use a clutch (the footie kind) all the time too? You could then have some sort of lever to change the gears too.

Yea yea I know too much to ask. But a kids gotta dream.