Policing the radio ban ‘impossible’

I did a 2016 season preview last night and when we discussed the radio message banning for this season, I offered the thought to those assembled that it would be very difficult to police. Now that’s not a revelation, in fact Jenson Button even said it in an AUTOSPORT article:

“It definitely will add something. It’s just policing it is pretty much impossible. That’s the only thing.

“They [race control] are not going to listen to every single radio [message], every single broadcast every time we use it. It’s difficult to police really.”

The challenge for me is the season could be arranged with simple coded messages for different things and perhaps those coded messages could be changed for each race. How’s the car handling Rio? That could mean any number of things.

Jenson’s point is that the FIA can’t possibly listen to every single radio call but they actually could after the race and should they find a team breaking the rules, that could be a delayed penalty.

A good question was asked during my event, has there been any restrictions on what they can place on a pit board? I haven’t seen any stories suggest that but if you’ve read any clarification on that, share it with us in the comment section below. If you can say anything on a pit board, the we may see the rise of the pit board person again. This also means that steering wheel displays may get very busy with text messages and texting while driving doesn’t seem to be a message we want to send either.

Strange days indeed but as Jenson says, the veteran drivers will most likely fare better than the younger drivers who have always had radios in their ears managing every facet of the race.

AUTOSPORT brings up a good point about veterans and their ability to read the race on the fly and to be honest, Jenson is one of the best on the grid at that very thing so they asked the right guy for sure.


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


I don’t have a problem with radio communications. People say that clamping radio comms, it will make the sport better and force the driver to show their talent. But right now this is a team sport and the prize money depends where the team finishes, so what is wrong about the team helping the driver maximize the car potential during the race?

In that case, remove the coaches at football, basketball games, etc…


I don’t think removing coaches is quite analogous. Effectively though, Merc was simply relaying real-time the type of information you get from doing a telemetry analysis after a session, but for someone else.

I do think that’s a bit much and certainly deserved being nipped in the bud, but I don’t think this radio ban is the answer.

But as we all know the FIA never met a complication it didn’t like.


If it allows the drivers to race, so we don’t get the situation we had at the of last year, it may be a good idea. In one of the last few races Hamilton was either asking to turn his engine up but not allowed to by the team, when he disobeyed them, the team instructed Rosberg to turn his engine up to retain parity. Finally Hamilton turned his engine down, and Rosberg was instructed to follow suit. The drivers should know and understand the implications of their actions (greater fuel use and reduced reliability) and make the decisions based… Read more »


True, but I’d argue that being able to change your engine settings is the part that should change.

Driving a race car shouldn’t be that different from driving a street car, at least not in what you can alter while driving. Get rid of all of that, and the rest will take care of itself. Mostly.


Agree. You pit out with the settings you brought to the dance, and you change them the next time you pit in. Or not. But so long as all of that excellent telemetry is transmitted to analytic pit consoles in realtime, they’ll definitely find a way to use it in real time. Guaranteed.


“But right now this is a team sport” Sure. Of course. The engineers and mechanics build and maintain the best racecar imaginable, and the driver pilots it to victory, or not. Man and machine, team and driver, as with every other form of motorsport without exception. Bear in mind that the radio ban WILL be subverted by the “team sport” inclination, as there is exactly zero point in having massive amounts of realtime telemetry and dozens of console-monitoring engineers in the pits if you can’t do something with it, which is to tell the driver how to respond to realtime… Read more »


The more I think about it the more I believe that greatly curtailing the radio communication between driver and pit is one of the best things that can happen to F1. I’ve been watching and following F1 since 1961 and granted the current technology and circumstances of the sport are hugely different, some of the great things of past years was watching the races and knowing that the drivers themselves were doing the competing while they were on the track. Now, cars themselves have taken a lot away from the drivers tasks (and included a few more), so bringing back… Read more »

Paul Riseborough

Ban car to to pit telemetry, store the data on-board for download after the race and allow the pit wall to talk about whatever they want to. Monitoring of safety related items (eg tyre pressures) and driver notification should be done by on-board systems as they are for road cars.


+100 percent.

Chuck C

Regarding the Pit Board, during P2, Will the Kill mentioned that Charlie Whiting specifically stated that the comms ban includes sending coded messages on the Pit Boards or via messages through the wheel.


Get rid of the data-driven racing and the 700 telemetry parameters and you’ll reduce the purpose of radio coaching.

Oh. The manufacturers won’t like that. Well let them leave too.