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)

36 Comments

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

36 responses to “F1’s radio ban – full details of what is and isn’t allowed

  1. Driver: “Should I push now?”
    Team: “Yes, push now”

    This seems to fall into both categories (“push now” allowed, answering direct question not), but assuming it’s allowed; then

    Driver: “Should I push now?”
    Team: “We have heard your message”

    This clearly means “No, save your [tyres/fuel]” but is allowed (acknowledgement a driver message has been heard).

    And if I can find that potential loophole that quickly, imagine what the teams are going to come up with!

    Utterly ridiculous ruling IMO.

    • floodo1

      The enforceability will surely turn out to be an issue.

      That said I’m actually mostly for this change. When I step back and think about it Drivers get a ridiculous amount of direction, which is basically the equivalent of the team controlling the car remotely, which is banned. So they’re already using a loophole to the ban on controlling the car remotely (by simply telling the driver to do the controlling himself, but the end result is that the team effected a specific change), and the here try to enforce the original ban, more effectively.

      I think this is actually progress for the most part, though a few of the banned items seem pretty innocuous and actually safety related (brake wear / temps), but I’m sure the FIA assumption is that the giant LCD display that most teams use can adequately provide the warnings that the teams are giving via radio now.
      The trick for the teams will be to take the time to program some of the warnings into the on-board computers.

      All that said, making such drastic changes mid-season is ridiculous. The issue isn’t so large as to warrant that step. Charlie could have released a small update about the per-corner coaching while leaving the big changes for next season if it really was that bad.

  2. S N POLLEY

    No doubt teams will now have a lawyer on the pit wall to agree wording….

  3. Mick

    I’m slightly surprised how strict the rules are in relation to talking about managing any issues with the power units. It will be almost impossible for the driver to work out how to manage a fault when they don’t know exactly what is causing it.

    A big plus point is that the number of cars retiring will increase and the cars at the back of the pack might pick up the odd point making for an interesting end of season for Caterham, Marrusia & Sauber.

    • Richard

      I see teams are allowed to help drivers fix a DRS system failure. Is that meant as an example of teams being allowed to fix any system failure (such as Hamilton at Monza), or do they really mean DRS only?

      • Richard

        I’ve just seen there is a bit that says “Selection of driver default settings (other than in the case of a clearly identified problem with the car).” So that bit in brackets allows teams to talk a driver through a system reset?

  4. Utterly, utterly crazy. No brake wear/temp information? That’s actually dangerous, surely! FIA don’t have a clue what’s going on under their own noses.

  5. Good grief. That list doesn’t leave much left to talk about, does it? How long before someone starts singing show tunes over the radio out of frustration?

  6. GeorgeK

    This is banned:
    “Sector time detail of a competitor and where a competitor is faster or slower.”
    This is allowed:
    “Lap time detail of a competitor.”

    Maybe I’m a bit thick but can you tell me the difference between the above, as most every other car will be faster or slower than whoever is getting the radio message?

    Now we will have the radio secret police monitoring everything said and imposing penalties that will be totally incomprehensible to most us.

    • Will

      Lap time detail is allowed for example:
      ‘X Was a second faster than you that lap’

      Sector time detail is not allowed:
      ‘X is quicker through sector one, he is gaining two tenths in turn 2’

    • Joe

      Saying “Lewis, Nico is faster than you braking for T2 by 2 tenths, and through Sector 3 overall by 1 tenth” is not allowed. However, saying “Lewis, Nico’s last lap was 3 tenths faster than yours” is allowed. This seems reasonable, as racing is about trying to prevent people ahead of you from increasing the gap and prevent people behind you from decreasing the gap. However, it prevents specific engineer feedback to individual drivers telling them specifically where they might be able to go faster, which some people feel is something F1 drivers should be able to figure out themselves.

    • Banned: You are slower than X in sector 1 by 2/10ths, specifically in Turns 2 and 3. (Or If Team-mate: X is braking 5m after you and picking up throttle 2m before you and gaining 2/10ths in Turn 3)
      Allowed: You are dropping back from X by 2/10ths a lap

    • Mick

      Simple enough. You can give the overall lap time but not the individual sectors.

    • Tom

      They can say that “Alonso is faster in sector 2”, They cannot say “he is faster through turns 6 and 7 so you may want to adjust your line”. Splitting hairs I know But i have heard the Mercedes guy basically tell their driver how to drive a corner. “Nico you will want to take a later apex in turn 4”

  7. Mick Nicholson

    If the gap to a competitor can be given (permitted item 2) every sector then it will be apparent where time is being lost/ gained, but this is the first item on the not permitted list!
    This is I logical as its all assistance but if the aim is to reduce and not eliminate assistance they should only permit either based on the end of lap times – which would be the same as historically done with pit boards.

  8. Park

    too complex,less charming!!
    too much rules,I hate!

  9. PAD

    So radio messages are not allowed but information on pit boards are OK.

    If the board displayed 3 characters, for example Q6F, the driver could read these then say out loud into a voice recognition system which would have a set of preprogrammed messages which appear on dashboard or read out into his earphone. 3 characters = 46000+ different messages. That should cover most options.

    This would be within the current rules ….

  10. Ian Stephens

    All this is banned in practice too. What other sport bans coaching a team member in practice sessions?

  11. Knoxy

    We don’t hear the extent of radio traffic that occurs during a race. I personally like the idea of this ban, It allows for errors to creep in (like missing a manual gear change did)

    Imagine playing poker, with a team of observers in your ear giving info on your competitors blood presure, pupil dilation, card counting, etc.

    Let the drivers race, and see who’s the complete racer

  12. RogerA

    Hate this change, Another case of F1 been over-regulated.

    Love hearing the radio messages & drivers been told where there losing out to the guy there racing can only mean we see better, closer racing.

    Having drivers more likely to run out of fuel, run out of tyres & therefore deciding to drive more cautiously all race is not good for the race & not good for the viewers.

    Despite drivers getting all this information from the teams over radio the racing has been good the past few years, Leave things alone.

    Just about every other category will continue to have drivers been given a lot of data over the radio so why should f1 be any different?

  13. The FIA has clearly been taken over by the Onion or has just devolved into self-parody. Their actions are just ridiculous.

  14. Julien

    What is “Learning of gears of the gearbox” exactly ?!

  15. jeeman

    Nobody banned pit board messages. Still free to use any car or driver performance enchanting info!

  16. Ian Stephens

    Are spectators allowed to hold up boards with coaching advice for drivers? If they are, it would be hard to prove that the advice did not come from the team. If they are not, spectators could get drivers disqualified just by holding up boards giving advice (kind of the opposite of FanBoost).

    This has just not been thought through.

  17. PeriSoft

    “Information on… BBW settings.”

    Would have thought that the F1 people would go for the waifish type, surely…

  18. john g

    Not just idiotic rules, but also dangerous. You can’t advise a driver on brake temps!? Surely you can tell them front or rear brakes are too hot, as long as you don’t tell them what to do about it.

    Also, fuel saving. You aren’t allowed to tell them to save fuel – presumably having a light on the wheel to tell them to save fuel is also banned… and by extension, any type of fuel gauge? So how does a driver supposed to know how much fuel they have remaining – is this an intrinsic part of driver skill that has been lost?

    • Joe

      If there is a light on the wheel that is programmed by the car’s software to light under certain conditions, that is permitted. If there is a light controlled by the pits, that is not allowed and has always not been allowed; pit-to-car communication of all types except radio is not allowed.

  19. Andy Harbon

    They should reduce the use of radios altogether except for emergency situations and pitstops. Motogp riders don’t need them. F1 is far too sanitised and controlled. The sport is losing it’s spirit, along with it’s soul. The real danger is as stated by another post, and that is there will be petty penalties which may affect driver points. Let’s get back to drivers racing other drivers, not the system or rules which are all too often applied with obvious bias!!

  20. Juan Fangio's Memory

    This is the furtive attempt to keep F1 in a pre-cyber era. F1’s real struggle is with computers taking over driving responsibilities of drivers. The next generation of F1 cars will be driven by tecnicians in Tokyo or Woking or Maranello. There is no escape road for motor sports. F1 will be drone cars driven by faceless technicians in a research facilty. This is the inevidable revolution.

  21. anth

    just simply ban the incar radio and use pit boards only, motogp riders go alot faster and they manage.

  22. LB Racer

    Not a fan of this change. If ‘s a high tech team sport, let the teams use all the technology and collaboration available. Otherwise, stick the fabulous V12 in the cars, remove all ERS and other gadgets and make it an old school race

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