Teams worried that radio ban will make starts difficult

The F1 teams are still coming to terms with the full meaning of the FIA clampdown on radio transmissions, after Charlie Whiting issued more details today (see previous story).

The subject will be discussed further at a meeting of the semi-formal sporting regulations committee – the 11 team managers and the FIA – in Singapore on Thursday. That has been scheduled in addition to the regular Thursday team managers’ meeting, where topical issues are usually discussed.

One area which has given teams particular cause for concern is that the ban covers complex pre-race procedures. The FIA has specifically targeted discussion of such areas as “start maps related to clutch position, for race start and pit stops,” “information on clutch maps or settings, eg bite point,”, and “burn-outs prior to race starts.” Usually there is a lot of radio traffic as the drivers head to the grid.

“The really big headache is the parade lap,” one insider told this writer. “Engine, tyres, brakes and clutch management during this lap require a lot of engineering input if the car is going to arrive on the grid in optimal condition.

“The driver workload during this time is huge. Driver intelligence doesn’t even come into play, as the settings are all ‘calculated’ live during the lap. At best we will end up with some seriously botched starts, and at worst a stall on the grid. It potentially mixes it up a bit if it’s the former. But the latter has the potential for things to go really seriously wrong.

“I think we are all happy to stop ‘coaching’ the driver but this is a much bigger step.”

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F1’s radio ban – full details of what is and isn’t allowed

The latest technical directive from the FIA has given the teams food for thought

The latest technical directive from the FIA has given the teams food for thought


The FIA’s Charlie Whiting has sent the teams a further technical directive clarifying what can and cannot feature in pit to car radio conversations from the Singapore GP onwards.

Seen by this writer, the document confirms that a lot of technical information will also be banned from appearing on pit boards.

In some instances, regarding tyre and brakes, the ban has been postponed until the Japanese GP.

In addition the FIA has specifically targeted “any message that appears to be coded.”

The FIA has confirmed that the restrictions “apply at all times the car is out of its garage during the Event,” which means all practice and qualifying sessions are included.

Messages not permitted (either by radio or pit board)

Sector time detail of a competitor and where a competitor is faster or slower.

Adjustment of power unit settings.

Adjustment of power unit setting to de-rate the systems.

Adjustment of gearbox settings.

Learning of gears of the gearbox (will only be enforced from the Japanese GP onwards).

Balancing the SOC ['State of charge', ie ERS battery charge level - AC] or adjusting for performance.

Information on fuel flow settings (except if requested to do so by race control).

Information on level of fuel saving needed.

Information on tyre pressures or temperatures (will only be enforced from the Japanese GP onwards).

Information on differential settings.

Start maps related to clutch position, for race start and pit stops.

Information on clutch maps or settings, eg bite point.

Burn-outs prior to race starts.

Information on brake balance or BBW settings.

Warning on brake wear or temperatures (will only be enforced from the Japanese GP onwards).

Selection of driver default settings (other than in the case of a clearly identified problem with the
car).

Answering a direct question from a driver, eg “Am I using the right torque map?”

Any message that appears to be coded.

Messages permitted (for the avoidance of doubt)

Acknowledgement that a driver message has been heard.

Lap or sector time detail.

Lap time detail of a competitor.

Gaps to a competitor during a practice session or race.

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

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

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

Puncture warning.

Tyre choice at the next pit stop.

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

Tyre specification of a competitor.

Indication of a potential problem with a competitor’s car during a race.

Information concerning a competitors likely race strategy.

Yellow flags, blue flags, Safety Car deployment or other cautions.

Safety Car window.

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

Notification that DRS is enabled or disabled.

Dealing with a DRS system failure.

Change of front wing position at the next pit stop.

Oil transfer.

Wet track, oil or debris in certain corners.

When to enter the pits.

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

Reminders about track limits.

Passing on messages from race control.

Information concerning damage to the car.

Number of laps remaining.

Driver instructions from the team to swap position with other drivers.

Test sequence information during practice sessions, eg aero-mapping.

Weather information.

Pit to retire the car.

(Note: Punctuation has been adjusted from original)

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DTM star Wehrlein lands Mercedes F1 reserve role

Mercedes has handed the reserve driver role to Pascal Wehrlein

Mercedes has handed the reserve driver role to Pascal Wehrlein


Mercedes DTM driver Pascal Wehrlein has been officially named as reserve driver for the company’s F1 team.

The 19-year-old German has already conducted 12,000kms of simulator running, and was given his first F1 test with an evaluation programme in a 2012 W03 at Portimao last week. He completed 109 laps, or over 500kms.

Wehrlein, who scored his first DTM win at Lausitzring yesterday, finished second to Daniel Juncadella in the 2012 F3 Euro Series.

Regarding his test he said: “It took me a few laps to get used to the incredible speed, the very hard brakes and the high cornering speeds – it’s in another league compared to the DTM. But I adapted quickly and was able to improve in each of my short and long runs. In total, I drove 500 km and didn’t want to head back into the pits! The test was simply the greatest experience I have had so far in motorsport. There weren’t any nerves, which surprised me, I just felt ready for it. The feedback from the team and from Toto was very encouraging and I think that I did a good job.

“For me, it’s a dream come true to have completed this test and now to take on my new role. All my life, I have worked hard to get the opportunity to drive an F1 car. And it was always my goal to do it with Mercedes-Benz.”

Toto Wolff said: “He has worked hard behind the scenes this year in our simulator, playing a very important role in our pre-race preparations. Aside from Nico and Lewis, he is the driver most familiar with all the procedures of our F1 W05 Hybrid and therefore the right choice for the role of reserve driver.

“He took an important step last week when he drove a Formula One car for the first time – and we were pleased to see him deliver a composed and impressive test, in line with our expectations. This was followed by a fantastic win yesterday at the Lausitzring in the DTM, making the most of conditions where pure driving talent was able to shine. Pascal has a bright future ahead of him and we are excited to have him on board for what will be an intense conclusion to the Formula One season.”

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Prodromou given chief engineer role as he starts at McLaren

Former Red Bull head of aerodynamics Peter Prodromou officially started work at McLaren today, in the role of chief engineer.

The 45-year-old Prodromou previously worked for McLaren between 1991 and 2006, latterly as chief aerodynamicist. The timing of his arrival will allow him to still play a major role in the development of the 2015 Honda car.

“It’s fantastic to return to McLaren, and to see a mixture of faces old and new,” he said. “Of course, I have first-hand experience of just what a passionate, focused and capable race team exists within these walls, and I’ve already seen the enthusiasm and positivity that exists to return McLaren to world championship-winning glory.”

Racing director Eric Boullier added: “He joins us at an auspicious time; we’ve spent much of 2014 working to develop and organise our design department, and his arrival neatly coincides with the conclusion of that restructuring.

“Peter has proved beyond doubt that he’s one of the most capable and intelligent engineers in Formula 1, and everyone at McLaren is looking forward to the contribution he’ll make as we push ahead with our ambitious plans for the future.”

Elaborating on the job title, McLaren COO Jonathan Neale said: “His position as chief engineer will enable him to play to his considerable strengths as a top-flight aerodynamicist and an engineer, and I’m sure he’ll dovetail seamlessly with his fellow engineers.”

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FIA to review F1 Superlicence rules for 2016

The FIA World Motor Sport Council is to review the procedure for obtaining a Superlicence from 2016 and beyond.

The signing of 16-year-old Max Verstappen by Toro Rosso has put the subject into sharp focus, while in another test case Robert Merhi was allowed to take part in FP1 in Monza, but not to complete the race weekend. The Spaniard had qualified as a past Euro F3 champion, but his automatic right to one ran out while he was racing in the DTM.

The WMSC said today: “A mandate has been given to the FIA Administration to review the qualification and conditions for the issuing of a Superlicence, in consultation with all parties concerned. A proposal will be put forward for WMSC approval in December for implementation in 2016.”

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FIA confirms 20 race F1 schedule for 2015

The FIA World Motor Sport Council has now issued an official 2015 schedule that as expected includes 20 races, with the Mexico GP the only addition to this year’s calendar.

Changes to a preliminary schedule that had been circulating include Austin now running before Mexico, and Japan being moved forward to run back-to-back with Singapore, leaving Russia as a stand alone event.

As mentioned here previously there will be anxious faces at COTA given that many Mexican fans who have been travelling to the USA may now focus on their home race.

2015 FIA F1 World Championship

March 15: Australia
March 29: Malaysia
April 5: Bahrain
April 19: China
May 10: Spain
May 24: Monaco
June 7: Canada
June 21: Austria
July 5: GB
July 19: Germany (Nurburgring)
July 26: Hungary
August 23: Belgium
September 6: Italy
September 20: Singapore
September 27: Japan
October 11: Russia
October 25: USA
November 1: Mexico
November 15: Brazil
November 29: Abu Dhabi

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Radio ban is “controversial and complex,” says Toto Wolff

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff has called the FIA’s decision to clamp down on radio messages from the pit to the driver “controversial” – and says that much still has to be clarified.

“It has been confirmed that we will now see less radio traffic,” said Wolff. “This is a complex and controversial decision which will require a significant effort from the teams to understand how best we can work around it. The directive is not yet fully clear and there will inevitably be some controversy, so it will need further clarification as to how much the essential on-track procedures will be affected -­ particularly before the start of the race.”

Meanwhile regarding the team’s prospects in Singapore he said: “Italy was a fantastic way to wrap up the European phase of the season after a tough few weekends at the preceding races. It was our first one-two finish since Austria and, realistically, the results in between had not matched the high standards we set ourselves as a team.

“To see both drivers on the top two steps was a thoroughly deserved reward for all the hard work put in by the people at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart. Lewis produced a fantastic drive to recover from a difficult start and take a well-earned win. For Nico, it was unusual to see a few mistakes when he is usually so consistent – but he has all the mental strength required to bounce back.”

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