Is It Time To Repeal The Radio Communications Ban In F1?

Lewis Hamilton 2016 Steering Wheel

Last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku was such a bore that the only real talking point of the weekend was the radio communications ban after Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were running in the wrong engine mode causing a drop in performance; while their race engineers on the pit wall were unable to help due to the ban on radio communication that was implemented in 2016.

The interesting thing is that Rosberg had an issue with incorrect engine settings at the Spanish Grand Prix, causing his car to go into harvesting mode which directly caused the crash that took both Mercedes drivers out of the race and nothing was really said about the radio communication ban. Now it affected Hamilton in Azerbaijan, suddenly Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is calling for a rethink on the radio ban.

As someone that has no horse in this race between Hamilton and Rosberg, I think that Hamilton is being a whiny little bitch, especially after earlier in the weekend branding other drivers as moaners for their complaints about safety in Baku. Hamilton claims not being able to get advice from the pit wall is dangerous as he spent half the lap staring at his steering wheel trying to work out what is set incorrectly.

That aside; I believe the radio communication ban has gone too far; with the new V6 hybrid turbo engines being so complicated that drivers also need to be engineers. A common sense decision would be allow technical advice on engine modes, but not allow coaching, i.e. “take turn 1 in ‘x” gear at ‘x” speed”.

Another option would be to take it out of the drivers hands completely, make the engine control system completely automated, having the ECU control everything about the running of the engine, or have the engine map pre-programmed by the team for whatever strategy they intend to use in the session.

FIA president Jean Todt has brushed off complaints about the radio ban citing that all teams agreed unanimously about the technical and coaching radio ban. So unless all teams agree to change the rules, nothing will change in the immediate future. But, clearly some change is needed, a driver being in the car unaided and alone is silly when there are literally thousands of possible permutations and modes. Either ‘technical’ advice should be permitted or steering wheel controls need to be significantly simplified.

3 thoughts on “Is It Time To Repeal The Radio Communications Ban In F1?

  • overboost commented on June 23, 2016 at 13:28

    All these fuel conservation maps are the cause of all these different modes and menus. Just get rid of this fuel economy bs and the steering wheels become simpler so that drivers like Hamilton have fewer issues and also without the fuel consumption restrictions the drivers can race again instead of the driving to a fuel delta 5-6 seconds off of qually time.

  • I’m very much of the opinion that modern F1 has gotten too complication for it’s own good. Like you say, Overboost; fuel limits have ruined the sport, it’s crazy to have the supposed pinnacle of motorsport being limited to a fixed amount of fuel which means cars run at 80% for the majority of the race distance often nullifying the ‘race’. My view is that really all a driver needs is a steering wheel, gear shifter(s) and three pedals, these are supposed to be race cars, not videogame consoles.

  • overboost commented on June 24, 2016 at 15:22

    Here is what JV says on this topic. I don’t always agree with Jacques but he is consistently about the racing and he is bang on here:

    “I don’t like this new radio rule,” Villeneuve told Autosport.

    “Either you allow radio or you ban it, you don’t allow an in-between where you can say this but you can’t say that – that was ridiculous.

    FIA shrugs off radio ban criticism

    “The messages that you heard during the race sounded childish.

    “You just have to make a decision – either allow team radio or don’t.

    “Don’t do something in-between because it doesn’t work.”

    Sunday’s race in Baku was unspectacular with most of the overtakes being done with DRS on the long main straight.

    Villeneuve criticised DRS and said the overtaking device should be removed to enable better racing.

    “Instead of having action, you have DRS,” he said.

    “OK, you overtook, but there is no construction, no building up to it and next year, we’ll still have the DRS.

    “It’s strange because with next year’s car, you’ll have a bigger tow so you won’t need the DRS.

    “But you still have Pirellis on the car which don’t like aggressive driving.

    “So as soon as a driver gets in traffic, he destroys his tyres so it makes it a bit difficult.

    “Drivers have to save everything, they have to save the engine, save the tyres, save the fuel so they don’t get to the point of attacking.

    “Getting rid of DRS would be a big help because then it would force the drivers not to depend on the DRS.

    “You see that some of them don’t even defend because there is no point.”–villeneuve

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