F1 Winter Break
On team radio messages in F1 TV coverage
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 May 2013   |  5:45 pm GMT  |  188 comments

It has been interesting to note the comments from readers in response to Jenson Button’s point that the team radio extracts of conversations between drivers and teams can lead to a skewed view of what is really happening within a team.

Team radio in the live broadcast coverage has been around for a while, but its’s noticeable as a commentator how much more frequently it is employed this season.

And without it the drama of Button’s tussle with team mate Sergio Perez in Bahrain or the Red Bull driver’s clash in Malaysia would have been a lesser experience for the fans at home.

“The problem with the radio is that my message is not meant for the masses, it’s meant for the team,” said Button. “In a way it’s a pity that TV companies just choose the messages they want, because they can come across in the wrong way.”

This is of course true, but it’s also the case that teams and drivers know anything they say can be broadcast and therefore they need to bear that in mind when speaking.

On the whole team radio has greatly enhanced the audience’s understanding of what’s going on during a race or qualifying session; it has brought the fans closer to the sport.

When I presented the ITV show Nigel Mansell’s IndyCar in 1994, it featured team radio from Mansell’s crew chief Jim McGee and it brought the action sequences to life. Radio also featured prominently in the BTCC highlights shows on BBC TV around that time and in coverage of races like Bathurst, where they even spoke to drivers during the race via a radio control camera in the cockpit. F1 was quite slow to the party, but is making up for it now.

F1 is some way from having the coverage interacting with drivers at the moment, but to eavesdrop on the conversations between pit wall and driver is an enriching experience.

The flip side, as Button says, is that it can present a slanted picture; at Renault in the mid 2000s Pat Symonds used to complain about the coverage given to team messages to Giancarlo Fisichella urging him to push harder, making it look bad for Fisi. Other drivers like Takuma Sato have been made to look hapless by messages which portray weakness.

But there is no doubt that F1 has evolved in the last few years to be more deliberately entertaining as a broadcast spectacle, with lots more team radio, DRS wings to aid overtaking and Pirelli short-life tyres to mix things up. Whereas in the 2000s F1 was like a 1-0 football match, now it’s like an NBA basketball game which ends 94-92. There is so much going on.

Reading through thousands of comments from readers on this site, many find it offensive and long for the simple purity of a pole sitter in the best car driving away for a lights to flag victory with perhaps one pit stop along the way. But is that the right product for F1 at the moment, especially with the trend moving more to the NBA model? Even that most conservative of sports, cricket, has introduced a 20 over slugfest, called 20-20, which is proving popular with younger audiences.

F1, led by its broadcasters and commercial rights holders and supported by the teams, has taken the decision to “sex it up” and that is what we have now.

As long time JA on F1 reader Aura F1 commented on the original Button post, “I enjoy hearing the radio messages but just like a drama director, the feed is carefully chosen to build tension and taken out of context so as to build a ‘narrative’ for the fans. If it was just open on a full feed and everyone could tune in to any messages at all it would be sport – but when we get selected voices and selected parts of those voices – lets call it what it is – a dramatic tool.” And this is a spot on observation.

The proof of the efficacy of this strategy will come in the TV ratings; viewers will either be attracted or turned off by NBA-F1.

F1 has a very large and mature fan base, with around 60 million people globally, on average, watching a live Grand Prix and over four times that number watching at least some coverage of a race, whether live or highlights (known as the “all broadcast” audience). This latter figure is up on previous years, whereas the live audience is falling, partly due to the Pay TV deals in Italy, UK and France.

But team radio is at the heart of the modern F1, whether the drivers like it or not.

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It's here to stay, they best get used to it. If anything, the trend will be to more access to the teams' radio.

The FOM feed graphics could do with updating though. They should be able to put more information up on the screen. If I'm watching a Major League baseball game, I know all of the following information from the on-screen graphics:

- Men on base, and which base(s)

- the count: balls and strikes

- the score, which inning it is (top or bottom)

- the speed of the last pitch

Now I could see that FOM would still have to switch between their Leader graphic (with the times of those behind shown relative to the race leader), and their Interval graphic (times shown relative to the car immediately ahead). But why do they need the Number of Stops graphic? That could be a part of the other graphics, beside the name of the driver. Could also put their current tire in there as well.

There's also enough room to include 6-7 drivers along the screen at once, intead of the 5 shown currently. With 22 drivers, that means that 5 iterations are necessary, instead of 4. If they could get 8 on the screen at once, that would be great, as it would only take 3 iterations.


I completely agree. The onscreen information, especially during quali, is dreadful. FOM need to recognise that it's not always possible, nor is it desirable, to rely on a laptop/tablet/phone to understand what's going on.


For 90% of the time, absolutely nothing is happening in baseball. Obviously filling the screen with stats isn't going to have the slightest affect on the viewing. Whereas, filling the screen with graphics that only interest the nerds will soon drive away viewers.

Whilst we're on about graphics, why are they put on the bottom of the screen? You know, the bit where all the action in motor racing occurs! Can't they stick all the rolling rubbish at the top of the screen where I can ignore it?


There is always more they could do, so I'm with you on that. What I'd like to see is how many laps are on the tyres on the car, they now show what tyre or tyres but not how old.


See my comment. This info is available on the live timing sites.


This why I have the live timing & scoring app running on my iPad while I watch the races. I can see all that data for any driver at any time.


It's expensive enough having to pay for cable to be able to watch the races. Unfortunately I can't afford the app. There are sites that provide live timing (the official f1 site, Planet F1) although they only give a fraction of the info from the app.


Google F1LT


And you can also download the data e use it when watching a replay or recorded race.


Gets awkward if they are rerun highlights which most not live are.


Yeah but the live timing only works if you are able to watch the race live. When a race starts at 3:30 AM my time that is a little late. Even with the Europe races starting at 7:30 am I will watch them on DVR.


Having moved from the UK to the US I would gladly pay a license fee to get quality commercial free programs. The depth of content is only possible by a well funded public broadcaster. Rerun of Biggest Monster Truck Crash Ever anyone?


I got the impression that you can replay the live timing in the mobile app in case you are watching at a different time.


@Stefanos I would have no problem paying for the races. In fact I do pay for the races as part of my Cable package. What I would have a problem paying for would be ABC, NBC, and CBS like the UK does for the BBC. Being forced to pay vs choosing to pay is something entirely different.


Or you have to pay to watch the live race. And pay for the live timing app.


Great advice. The number of stops graphic instead of timing is particularly bad if your watching a rerun and can't use live timing.

Agree also with the trying to fit more drivers on the screen. If the station shows replays of the action you can miss a segment and then have to wait for it to do the whole loop again.

Would like permanent tower at the side with timing gaps maybe rotate top 11 and next 11.

Torchwood Five

I have quite a widescreen television, but for last three years, the F1 broadcast has been two wide for my screen, so I don't see the left-side column with the times, and lost the left-most driver from the row along the bottom of the screen.

If there was some way to make the broadcast less wide, that would be cool with me.


Does indeed sound like a TV setting, do you have a sky or freeview box? Settings can be adjusted on them too.


That seems strange. Most modern TV's can make screen setting adjustments to account for the differing video aspect ratios. You may have to put up with annoying black striped though.


I had the same problem a year ago and got a new TV. You only notice it on F1 but probably a lot if not all the other stuff you watch is the same.

Think all TV broadcasts are made for wide screen now or something like that.


Sounds to me like a TV setting. If you have a widescreen TV, and the image is still extending off the sides, your TV is probably outputting in the wrong ratio.

Presume you've tried the Aspect Ratio button on your remote? You might be on super-wide, or zoom, or something.


While "eavesdropping on the conversations between pit wall and driver is an enriching experience," it's also one ripe for exploitation by the cynical media, at the expense of the truth and intra-team harmony, which is exactly what we've seen in the case of Button vs. Perez at McLaren.


I Respectfully Disagree.

Team radio Is More Trusty Road to The Truth


Everyone who is a public figure is vulnerable. It's part of the game. I think F1 is more prone than other sports to hang out its dirty laundry in a celebrity mag gossip-style, which will appeal to many. Thus the experience is enhanced.


"Thus the experience is enhanced." --- sure, for those who get off on reading celeb gossip mags and such. Anyway, thanks for sharing your perspective. Cheers.


"Its quite clear from my comments that I don’t like it either.."

Yeah dude no worries. Not giving you a hard time or anything.



Its quite clear from my comments that I don't like it either..


This is all true and I am a big fan of the team radio. I often watch the race again on sky and listen to the radio feed.

Just one thing I happen to think here is that I don't believe Button for one minute. He wanted at that time that message told to the world. Just as he did the "what is he doing" in Canada when he subsequently admitted he put Hamilton into the wall. Button knows like any driver if they don't want something to be repeated to the world to put the swear word in. Just as Vettel wanted the world to know that Mark was to slow and he was being held up.

Personally I think Button is doing the manipulating here and not the media. Remember he went to the pen afterwards and then also interrupted a sky interview with Whitmarsh!


I'm not Button's fan, but lets make one thing clear: in Canada Hamilton ran into Button and was very lucky not to be penalised. Schumacher lost the pole in Monaco for a similar rule infringement last year.


Lol! Hamilton ran into Button?

Video's of the accident show Jenson looking into his mirror before closing Lewis into the wall.

Lewis was much faster than Jenson and just as with Perez, Jenson did not like it. It was a cols and deliberate act from Jenson, after which he went into full politicking to destroy Lewis in 2011. By 2012, a wiser Lewis had hardened up and made up his mind to leave.

"As Button moved across the track, clearly seen looking into his mirror as he did so, Hamilton’s left tyre exploded against the pit wall."


That quote is from the mirror, yet it like every other tabloid decided to blame Lewis (for reasons best known to them). Lewis was also to blame for being to nice and gullible about the cynical incident.



I totally respect the fact that we have different opinions on the incident.

Of course the following driver has worse visibility, but at that speed the wall of water you create behind is pretty damned difficult to see through in your mirrors.

I wasn't comparing my reaction times or zonal awareness with those of a F1 driver - I was saying that before you make a manoeuvre you instinctively look in the mirror, even when the view behind is blocked. Neither did I suggest that a road car creates spray like a F1 car does - I wasn't even talking about driving a road car in the wet!

He would have known Lewis was behind him but not necessarily exactly where.

You're clearly a Lewis fan (and maybe also a Jenson hater), but Lewis was in the following car. He would know that the racing line would take a car in front towards the wall. He was at least careless for aiming for a gap that was only ever going to get smaller, and I'm 99% certain that if the roles were reversed Lewis would have made exactly the same move.


Jenson admitted he knew Lewis was there in the bbc review of the season. Everyone knew he got a bad exit he could hear hamilton. He and EJ had a good laugh about it.

To put some context to the situation I believe it was Jenson putting manners on Lewis after t1 at china earlier in the season.


@Andrew J

Don't you think the person in the following car would have much worse vision from spray than the lead car? Its the following driver that has a face-full of spray over their visor.

It is totally incredible for Lewis to have been able to see Jenson in the spray, yet Jenson claimed not able to see him. Its just absolutely logic defying.

Concerning your mirror allusion, an F1 drivers zonal awareness and reflexes are worlds better than yours, so the analogy does not count. Also, road cars do not throw spray at following cars as F1 cars do; there is no similarity between both situations.

Jenson looked in his mirrors, saw Lewis, hated the situation and cynically closed him into the wall. We also saw him slow down into Perez before crying for team orders. History repeating.


It's been a while since I watched that video, but I recall it being pretty clear that at the point Button looked in his mirror, Hamilton was directly behind him, and that Button was looking ahead again by the time Hamilton pulled out. It was unfortunate timing.


If every other tabloid blamed Lewis then maybe it's because they viewed it differently. Or more objectively.

If I have a load of stuff in the back of my car such that I can't see out of the rear window, I still find myself instinctively glancing in the rear view mirror to check what's behind me. It's a habit that any good driver should have.

In case you hadn't noticed it was rather wet. Martin Brundle has often reiterated that drivers have nothing like the clarity of vision that the TV cameras appear to show. Just because Button looked in his mirror, with the spray that there would have been behind him there's no guarantee he would have seen anything at all.

colin grayson

as I remember button had just overtaken hamilton and was pulling back to his normal line ?

am I wrong ?


People excusing him say he did not SEE him cos of the conditions.

and yet Racing drivers don't need to "see" a car to know where it is in relation to theirs. Button as one of the most experienced on the grid can only get away with that excuse, not even a rookie would be allowed to get away with, with the general public!

read the steward's report - Button was the one investigated not Hamilton.

Didn't he moan about Hamilton's move on him in China? Same race that Hamilton was in a position to win only cos he was able to get by Button at the right time.

Button puts too much attention on PR and appearance to the detriment of what is good for the TEAM. Appearances dictate that his teammate should not beat him and that seems his main focus even at the risk of points or wins for his Team.

Its nothing new or surprising to see & hear him moaning about Perez after racing him almost as hard as Perez did. (not that Perez doesn't need to take care while overtaking - still a bit of a rough diamond in that regard)

Re: one of the preceding posts

I would actually go with the word "shrewd" like Horner used rather than "intelligent" as Whitmarsh keeps banging down our throats - seeing as I also question Whitmarsh's intelligence on a number of key matters.

Back to Button - immense pressure on him now. He is providing the story lines where before he shaped the media agenda and PR slant. he can't hide his chatter behind Hamilton now - no longer his teammate and appears to have taken up the BBC column as his own PR "reply" tool which i doubt Button will want to take on.

Button has a difficult car, prior to Bahrain that was the reason for Mclaren poor season but there are the beginnings of murmurs as to whether difficult necessarily means slow. Perez race in Bahrain is ratcheting that pressure.

As lead driver too he needs to drive the attack for Mclaren not counter punch and mop up.

That's a lot of adjustment for him. He will be best served getting his head down - PR wise, and getting stuck in.


Holy geez ... in no way did he run into Button! He was alongside Button along the straight, where the racing line is to drift over from the right to the left. So Hamilton was driving into a wedge that was always closing. In the dry I would expect Button to have known that Hamilton was alongside. But in the wet, it was an accident, pure and simple. Button probably knew that Hamilton would try to pass, b/c Button had horrible traction out of the preceding corner, while Hamilton was on the power quickly out of that same exit.

Schumacher ran into the back of Senna in Spain last year, and was NEVER alongside! How is that in any way similar?!?


Jensons politicing has caught him out in the open this time.

He succeeded in burying Lewis with politics, but I don't think its going to work with Perez for the simple reason that Perez brings in Carlos Slims sponsorship money.


Indeed. And if McLaren would change a driver, it won't be Perez. They would be stupid to let that sponsorship money go. It's the same with Ferrari and Alonso.


"Personally I think Button is doing the manipulating here and not the media."

This seems disingenuous to me. While certainly Button is capable of trying to destabilize a rival or enhance his own position via strategic communications, the media is absolutely complicit in this when they broadcast individuals' claims without context or without challenging the veracity of anyone's statements. Journalists have a responsibility to their audience to take an adversarial approach to the subjects they cover, and not simply make themselves available as a medium, or worse, proactively stir-up drama by selective transmission/coverage of radio messages, or post-race statements or anything else.


JoeP, Button "fed" the media and NOT the other way around. Everyone knows the role of the media. For Button to complain that the media is manipulating is unfair.

Tornillo Amarillo

Remember this one...


Fair enough. I'm glad you took the time to share your viewpoint on it and appreciate the chance to think more about the situation.


I agree with everything you have written except the bit about Button. My view is Button is probably the most intelligent driver on the grid and there is no way he would have been surprised that his messages were played. What he was surprised about was the reaction to his messages. This is why now he is deflecting the blame on the media and trying to play things down.


The idea of an F1 intelligence test is an interesting one to me. A friend I work with today mentioned an Australian Institute of Sport theory that a tendency towards more fast firing neurons occurs across the whole body whether it is brain neurons or muscular. That can make people quick reacting both physically and mentally, but doesn't mean fast reflexes lead to strategic thinking capabilities.

In terms of intelligence, my limited understanding is that you need to compensate for age bringing knowledge, so that gives Webber and Button a head start.

Language skills are an area that is highlighted as an important skill and since of intelligence. As a mostly monolinguist, I'm well behind Nico Rosberg's German/Finnish/English/French skills. I suspect Alonso may have a local Spanish language, Spanish, Italian and English.

However, in being good friends with Bernie, Vettel might be the smartest of the lot...


Ok. I appreciate the additional insight and expression of your thoughts on the matter and it's certainly left me willing to reconsider the degree to which Button is gaming the system.


I think you got it right. Button is no idiot. He knows anything he saids has a chance of making it on air. If he hadn't been dissed and called a whinner would he still have complained? Having said that, I'm still a JB fan.


100% agree with you, Jenson has been very condescending, knowing that these comments would probably be heard by everyone.

I got the needle regards the Canada 2011 Hamilton incident, and again with Perez two weeks back, where I belive Jenson was at least as equally at fault (very tasty racing though!)


Look where Jenson's comments have gotten him. Button has through 'stealth politics' positioned himself as #1 at one of the top teams! (Hamilton out - Button in).

Only Alonso has been able to manage such a similar feat. (Raikonnen out - Alonso in).


Perhaps Jenson's F1 record of 234 race starts, 15 wins and a World Championship gives him the prime position against Perez anyway?


Not the same. In the second case a bank footed the change.


I like the comments, but get upset afterwards when I find out they are taken out of content so its like watching a movie instead of a live race "to a point"

If this will increase, I am sure that drivers and pit crew might start to talk in riddles so we wont understand it really anyway. If the TV folks can hear what the teams say, so can the other teams and then its going to be more important to talk in a way so that the other teams don't get it.

Still...F1 is awesome at the moment


All of this makes sense. There is a lot more space on tv screens these days.

There's also the fact that they try to put graphics within the 4:3 aspect for old tvs when they could be using the extra widescreen space.

Put the essentials within 4:3 and put the extras in the free 16:9 areas to the sides. Or we could just watch with a laptop or iPad as an additional screen for data... If watching live which I don't.


That's what I do.

Stuart Harrison

"Whereas in the 2000s F1 was like a 1-0 football match, now it’s like an NBA basketball game which ends 94-92. There is so much going on."

There is, but not enough to claim such a close finish as 94-92. You certainly aren't seeing the podium spots being decided on the final corner as happens with NASCAR! Usually races are over by the final round of pitstops with teams telling drivers to turn down the engine and bring it home. Any closeness in the final timings is just teams managing gaps.

"many .. long for the simple purity of a pole sitter in the best car driving away for a lights to flag victory"

Gee, is 2011 such a long-distant memory for everyone? 🙂

I must be really old-school for wanting a repeat of 2010, then!

Tornillo Amarillo

"94-92 NBA" style means the NUMBER OF PIT-STOPS between teams!

By the way, I think that certainly Pirelli was asked to bring a "Canada 2010" style to the F1 and... they failed.


“Whereas in the 2000s F1 was like a 1-0 football match, now it’s like an NBA basketball game which ends 94-92. There is so much going on.”

I think this quote say's it all. When Alo was chasing Rai in the final stint it wasn't over. But PLEASE don't make like Nascar - 250 laps until it's green-white-checkered. It so booooring.

The drivers that have done something good initially must be able to gain something in the end.


2010, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005....

I'd take any of them over what we have now!


Just on 2008, I went through the Autocourse for that year to check my memory of events. In terms of dry track, same strategy racing passes for the lead there was a grand total of zero.

The closest we got were Hamilton on a three stopper passing Massa in Turkey, Massa passing Raikkonen's broken exhaust Ferrari in France and Kubica on Heidfeld in Canada.

So in terms of the race win, you could switch off after the first pit stop in most cases, unless it might rain.

We had a variety of winners depending on whether Ferrari or McLaren could get the tyres to work at the given track, but that was about it.

In my opinion the cars as seen on TV didn't look any more on the limit than they do now. The drivers couldn't abuse the tyres - they still had to be looked after and so the car behaviour is pretty similar to now. That change is what we are told about what the drivers are feeling. The easier passing with drivers who have damaged their tyres and DRS is a different matter.

A factor in those years you mention were two teams going pretty much head to head. There were generally at best four drivers with any hope of winning. This was the result of two teams being ahead of the rest in terms of aerodynamic performance. If one of those two teams had fallen away we would have had 2004 again. Aerodynamically right now we are in 2004 with the Red Bull from the expert comments I've read.

Red Bull might be the favourites for Spain, but with long loads on the tyres other teams are a chance. In the minimal degradation era that wouldn't apply and we'd have a 75% chance of Vettel win, 24.5% chance of Webber and bugger all for the rest at Barcelona.

Right now I like the fact that the driver's influence on the result is greater than it was in the Bridgestone era. It isn't perfect, and as an entertainment everyone will look for different things, but knowing or being pretty sure of the outcome before you start is rarely attractive in sport. I look at Suzuka in 2005 and remember a great race, but that came from a messed up qualifying, and which other ones stand out?


Coincidentally, those were Bridgestone days.


It's not really a coincidence though, is it...?


Yeah well, NASCAR does use the safety car to bunch up the race, often in the last half dozen laps or so.


Yes Nascar seems to have too many cautions or mystery cautions when there is a gum wrapper on the track. They also have "competition cautions" to check tire wear. I think those are lame as well.


And they do this with the mystery, "debris on racetrack" reasoning where you never see the debris despite 40 odd cameras bringing you race coverage.


I must be honest, I don't watch much NASCAR. Starting to be more though due to the scarcity of F1. Funny side effect, but I digress.

Are you implying that NASCAR orders out the safety car for the sole purpose of bunching up the field. Usually in the races I watch they are the results of crashes or debris.


For serious Team communication *I would go to code words and phrases. And make them deliberately colourful and/or misleading, too.


They already do that by swearing. Radio messages in F1 are far from a new thing.

What is new and somewhat shocking is a driver complaining about them.


Yes, consider the driver seems to be complaining because it puts him into a bad light. Would he still be complaining if it would paint a nice picture of him?


Love it when Ferrari communicates in Italian and viewers complain it's not in English!


Personally, I think if the team refuses to speak in English -- and we all know they're doing it solely because it makes it less likely their messages will be broadcast, not because Alonso prefers to speak Italian -- then they should be required to provide or pay FOM for a translator whose job it will be to either voice over or subtitle the team radio for that team.

And I think all team radio should be open and unencrypted -- both for FOM to choose what to broadcast, and for fans at the track to tune into on their own radios.


Xenophobia? Oh, come on, now. You're reaching, and you know it.

Italian is spoken as a native language by just nine tenths of one percent of the entire world's population. For every person who natively speaks Italian, there are 6.2 people who natively speak English. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers)

And that's native speakers. When you include those who speak the language but not as their mother tongue, the difference is even more startling. Italian is spoken by around 62 million people worldwide; estimates vary, but for every Italian speaker there are believed to be around 12-24 English speakers.

Only Mandarin Chinese is believed to be more widespread than English, when you include non-native speakers. (And the only other similarly-widespread language among non-native speakers is Spanish.)

For a sport that must communicate with as many viewers as possible, the only languages that make any sense are English and Mandarin Chinese, and the latter makes no real sense either given the sport's extremely low profile in China and in Chinese-speaking communities.

Xenophobia has nothing to do with it. If Formula One wants to make itself as accessible as possible to the largest number of people, there is simply no choice: it must communicate in English.

And as I already pointed out, there is only one language that is near-universally spoken on the grid. You can't expect teams and drivers to communicate in a language they don't speak, and English is the only language in which they can reasonably be expected to speak.

Most teams already provide most of their public relations material in that language, and so every meaningful resource covering F1 already has the ability to understand that language, even if it reports in another language. Expecting teams to provide their pit communications in a language that they, the F1 media, and a dominant segment of the fan base all speak is in no way burdensome, and in no way xenophobic.


I would be absolutely amazed at this nonsense if it weren't for the fact I enjoy languages, wish I could speak those that I do better and some of those I don't a little. It is universally recognised as an indicator of intelligence (how many do you speak James?!) and, consequently, a source of embarrassment that we are so poor at it in Britain. Because everyone else speaks English. So why bother. Yeah, right-o.

I wish for your sake you could lose the xenophobia a little, it might help you appreciate what a beautiful language Italian is and how cleverly adaptable people like Rosberg and Alonso are. If not, perhaps you can tell me why so many of our sports stars go to play/live in foreign countries and completely fail to communicate properly despite the fact communication is one of the most important things in life. And please don't give me the usual flannel about education and upbringing, Barry Sheene barely attended school after the age of 14 and spoke fluent French and Spanish and very reasonable Japanese.


@David: The answer to that is blindingly obvious -- because English is the default language of the sport.

Ask yourself which language every driver and every major team figure on the grid speaks to at least a basic standard. Is it Italian? No. Nor is it any other language except English.

And for that reason, every non-English language station already has (or should, if they're covering the sport properly) somebody capable of understanding English and translating for their viewers.

What they mostly don't have is somebody capable of translating Italian, and few of them will be able to justify that expense for one team (and largely, one driver who isn't actually a native Italian speaker -- he only learned it in his late teens.)

Requiring the team radio to be spoken in English is not burdensome to team or drivers, and it isn't burdensome to the non-English TV stations. What it *would* be is enlightening to everybody, because we'd get to hear and understand more team radio (whether or not it was translated by a non-English presenter to our native language first.)


Why don't we force the teams to speak in Italian so the Italian viewers can understand?


UK and US fans must understand there are other languages in the world. Sorry chaps.

Buona sera!


That is easy to fix. If Sky or BBC hire any former italian driver as comentator we get a translation.


Thanks for the quote James. I worked on many of the early reality shows in editing things like big brother. While these were not scripted as many people believed, the editors job was to take certain story lines and 'enhance' the narrative. This happens in sport now.

My point is not that it's wrong or somehow improper, it is simply done to create a story line for fans to follow. I love it and would not want to go back to F1 without dramatic story arcs - American sports have long known this. Characters and story lines are the mark of popular reality tv and sport now. Dramatic films and tv shows ape documentary reality and documentary reality apes drama.

The other point I made which came off simply as defending Button, who admittedly I am a fan of, was that his complaint does not seem to be ' this shouldn't be broadcast' but 'its annoying exactly what is chosen for broadcast' - it was very clear to me, from my background, that no broadcasts from Perez or whitmarsh were played on the main feed - it was button. The same way we didn't get marks side of the radio feed when vettel ignored the team orders (but for those who say swearing stops broadcast - we all witnessed marks middle finger gesture on the broadcast feed). This was clearly a broadcast director making an informed decision about what would make the race exciting and create a clear story line.

That's the directors job but I can see drivers becoming annoyed if only part of the story gets out. Unless the fans could hear every transmission it's selective editing to build a narrative. Like the 60 second recaps of races done by the BBC and Sky - you pick the highlights - you don't have to mention one driver suffered through 34 laps of trouble, you show he hit a barrier and the story is his accident. Context is lost to serve excitement.

Fair enough - it is entertainment - but much as fans I sometimes see complaining that drivers give their opinion, the reality is the media lives on quotes and storylines.

Why do you think F1 broadcasts revel in the music set dramatic film sequences to bring viewers into the moment? It's a car commercial essentially. In reality much of the race weekend is dull statistics based engineering arguments over minutiae - most of us, myself included, need a story and characters to be invested in something. Unlike football where you can support a team through geographical closeness or historic ties, F1 needs big personalities and big impact storylines.

Sorry for the long post.


You are right that the narrative and a construed storyline do enhance the experience. And just like any good storyline, act 1 is tasked with setting the stage, the hero, the villain and the struggle.

I don't know if the manipulation of a sporting event to manufacture all of the above preserves the sporting character of F1. Heroes, villains and struggles have been the bedrock of F1 long before gimmicks. The artificiality is potentially dangerous. It may brand F1 a circus, not far from professional wrestling. The NBA analogy is but a route to this. And who will take it seriously afterwards?

Politics have suffered enormously from this communication-intensive approach and we are all less well-off for it.

My comments are equally about the manufactured storyline as tyres, DRS, KERS and other gimmicks trying to improve the spectacle. The engine change for 2014 will almost certainly shake things up more than all those things put together (and 2-litre turbo engines are probably rather useful to consumers looking for fuel-efficient performance). I quite enjoy the extra layers of information.

One last comment: in football the biggest teams rely on a fan-base much bigger than local and most revenues come from merchandising far beyond their borders or tv revenues further away still. And, completely devoid of gimmicks, football is as healthy as ever!


Bottom line, F-1 is a show not a sport. Long time fans have seen the evolution of the sport into a show-business model. So, what we are witnessing these days is a generational break. Tyres, DRS, KERS, frozen engines make f-1 look more to a NASCAR or Indy series than the original stuff, where raw talent and engines were the spotlight. It is up to each one of us to speak out through blogs, surveys, attending races, paying TV fees or whatever you may imagine to support the current model. I certainly don't like it.


On your show vs sport comment, there is the business aspect as well. Commercial partnerships and sponsorship makes F1 function. Jenson the charming intelligent guy probably sells more stuff than Jenson the whinging about his team mate being too fast guy. News Corp has an interest in F1, and if aligned to certain drivers could skew the media message to enhance commercial prospects.

When you consider that people will stand in a cold forest to watch rally cars go by and flick stones at them, a clear race with cars passing isn't always necessary.

We'd like to think the best driver will win the WDC. The number of times the best car hasn't won is pretty rare, e.g. 1986 and 1995. Some can be argued over (2005-7, 1982). The lack of movement between teams these days doesn't help.

Technically, I feel ground effects and much greater torque from the engines would help make the cars more spectacular and be easier for drivers to pass without DRS or KERS, but I cannot see either happening soon.


I'm happy with a good balance. The world changes and the way we communicate, or consume information, changes with it. It's progress. It is often said that F1 has been slow to adapt. So, what we're seeing is a scramble to "catch up" which may be going too far in some areas.

The million (billion?)-dollar question is: is F1 a sport, or purely entertainment? Is there an advantage to being one vs the other? Does pure sport suffer in today's world (e.g. the Olympics, football, the NBA, even)?

Let's keep things in perspective. The sport was not unwatchable in the pre-Pirelli days. It was one of the most successfull sports with a massive audience and tv revenues. And, other than some very limited aero know how, not much useful has come out of this expensive engineering exercise to society.


I reckon you've nailed it mate. Very eloquently put too.


I suppose my real point is that truth should not be lost in this process.

Is it a narrative about a drama, or a drama because of the narrative.

I'd like to know what I am actually watching.


Well said John


So if by editing and creating a dramatic storyline a young drivers career and earning potential is damaged for commercial gain, should he be compensated?

If he is not a part of the plot and compensated accordingly, where is the morality?


There is not a lot of morality in F1 - drivers get a reputation that sticks with them regardless of facts.

I think this predates radio transmission broadcast of course. Lets be honest we all like to mythologise certain drivers (Senna was beaten and had bad days because he was human but as a younger fan I never really saw much of Senna's career - but naturally I hear his legend spoken of with a lot of the critical elements removed).

We also tend to give up on racers who never made it even if it wasn't their fault and we probably always will.

I guess sport is cruel - it's the last acceptable form of warfare and discrimination - we let ourselves support the winners and deride the losers. Young drivers need to accept that they are building an image as well as a career. And sadly in this 'dramatic' storyline some characters will get their parts written out.

Unless of course - like someone like Jenson - you get a chance later in your career for a fairy tale comeback shot (2009 - the media loves an underdog story too!)

But then fans try to write their own dramatic storylines too - a lot of Lewis fans cast him as a put upon maverick and created a whole storyline of button as a ruthless politician, whitmarsh as a jealous incompetent and Ron as an edged out maestro. We love storylines I think. Drivers in F1 already know this, that's why they are all so keen to talk about legacy and getting a team onside and 'momentum' - sadly a lot of drivers will be punished by the scenarios they find themselves in.


I agree. I didn't mean to sound as if I was justifying the practice. I was simply trying to expand upon it.

I personally think that jensons exact complaint is justified - the taking out of context is not done for any drivers favour - it leads to drivers being trapped into a 'role' that may not be even half truthful.

I'm just saying we all fall for it to some extent. It's very hard as a human being not to. It takes a serious effort to find out more and be impartial. I think James does an excellent job of holding some commenters back - he obviously has his favourites and he is a journalist so loves a story - but he seems to dislike negativity and people demonising certain drivers without the whole story - which is about the best you can expect from someone so close to the action.


F1 is about admiration of high technology, physics and human genius. It is about drivers whose reflexes and hand to eye coordination are so finely tuned, it boggles the mind. It is about invention and innovation. F1 is a cerebral sport.

These things make it obvious that F1 is the wrong place for the storyline, That approach is better suited to shows like Jerry Springer and Big Brother, which are not to everyones taste. It is wrong to see the World as so dumbed down that everything needs a storyline.


I understand your job. Your show needs good ratings otherwise the show gets cancelled and you no longer have a job. But when editing also could lead to misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the comment made by a person in question. And that is unfair.


I'm fine with all of your comments if it is a fan expressing an opinion or a journalist drawing a conclusion, if he presents the facts and a solid argument, but as per my second comment, if the narrative is selective and does not present all of the facts, then it is deceptive, and why would I waste my time on this. If I felt that James had an agenda or did not present a balanced view, I would not waste my time on his web site. IMO it is a slippery slide for any venture that dabbles in half truths, I believe this is a road to insignificance.

As per my second post, as long as the narrative is about the drama, I'm fine with it, but let's be careful not to kill the essence of the sport through too much production and commercialisation.


"Reading through thousands of comments from readers on this site, many find it offensive and long for the simple purity of a pole sitter in the best car driving away for a lights to flag victory with perhaps one pit stop along the way."

That's a bit misleading, there were plenty of races in 2007-10 on the Bridgestones that weren't like that. I'd argue that a greater proportion of Pirelli races have been lights to flag victories than during the single supplier Bridgestone years (largely courtesy of Vettel, which admittedly isn't really Pirelli's fault).


Yes, that's true. You certainly can't blame Pirellli for the fact that Vettel is so much superior than the rest.


Plenty of good races long before that as well! You're right, it's a biased comment.


2008 was a fantastic year and I'm not just talking about brazil, remember the final laps of spa, think it is one of the best finishes to a Grand Prix I've seen


Only because of the rain. If there was no rain then 8 out of 10 races were a procession. That is the simple truth, people are just being nostalgic if they try to suggest it was anything otherwise.

I watched them all.


I agree that some of the DRS overtakes are too easy but it's still vastly preferable to the alternative of zero overtaking.

Moreover, if we had Bridgestone tyres the likelyhood is that Vettel would walk away with every race because fundamentally the Red Bull has so much more downforce than any other car.

I don't claim that things are perfect now but they never are with anything, other sports, work or personal relationships.

If some of the people on here were married to a Miss World they'd complain that she was wearing too much make up and was "fake".


Fair enough, Bahrain 2013 was far superior to Bahrain 2010. But Bahrain was one race, and even though I enjoyed it, I'd be hard pressed to describe the battles for 6th and 7th as "amazing" that will live long in the memory. It's also notable that DRS was far less effective in Bahrain than in China and Malaysia, which helped promote close but not silly "push to pass" racing.

I think the problem is things get polarised - not all Bridgestone races were dull processions and not all Pirelli races are instant classics.


The difference is that in Bahrain there was lots of close wheel to wheel racing, amazing battles, people banging wheels even if at the front it was easy for Vettel.

You often got entire races with no overtaking for the points places in the bridgestone era if the race was dry.

Some tracks like Canada or Spa could still be entertaining but the majority, Barcelona, Hungary, Bahrain , Monaco etc were processions.


Fair enough, but if you exclude rain effected races or other races where something out of the ordinary went on then you don't really get many exciting Pirelli races either.


I think 'misleading' is putting it kindly.

It seems to me that some are extremely protective of the status quo to the point that they have formulated an alternative reality where all racing prior to 2012 was completely unwatchable.

I can only assume that the quote you point out is designed to polarise the debate. It's difficult to have a serious debate on modern F1 when even the professional writers approach the subject in this way.


It very much reminds me of the parents of a wayward son who can't accept their offspring has made some bad decisions. "He's a good boy really.."

The thing is, F1 journalists have dedicated their lives to the sport. It's both difficult on a personal level, and dangerous on a professional level, to speak out and say it's become something it shouldn't have.

Martin Brundle is now just about questioning DRS in the races. David Croft will ask questions about the tryes but also make sure he gives both sides of the argument. If they want to keep their jobs I guess it's about as much as they can do. If they start to criticize heavily then they'll be replaced by somebody who will toe the corporate line and talk about how exciting it all was.

I remember the first time I heard James Allen's voice on ITV Sport, reporting from the pit lane. "I love my job" he belted out with more enthusiasm than I'd heard from Walker and Palmer combined in the previous few years I'd been watching on the BBC. It's a bit hard for me to stomach reading his current stance that it was actually all a bit boring then and things are much better now...


James, you've asked me a question so I feel I need to respond.

"If I was so careful about “keeping my job” – and I’m not sure which of my numerous jobs you perceive might be at risk here – why would I create and tirelessly curate a platform like this for fans to engage with the sport and for sometimes harsh criticisms to come out?"

I think @Stefanos has summed up the value and appreciation of your site in better words than I could, so I'll just echo his sentiments and move onto the subtext of your question.

I didn't directly say that I believed you were worried about "keeping your job" as you put it. But, let's face reality for a moment. If any journalist took exception to F1 for being on the path it is, then if that path doesn't change, they face becoming irrelevant. People here have said to me that I should go and follow another sport if I don't like what we have now. In the long term, if things don't change, that will eventually become the case. However I'm going to brave it out for a couple more years and hope things get better. For me, I stand to loose a sport I've been watching for 20 odd years if things don't change. Anybody involved in the industry has an awful lot more to loose than me by taking such a stance.

Regarding: "Don’t you imagine the teams, FOTA, FIA FOM etc keep across this comments sections to ‘test the temperature’ of fan sentiment?"

If they do then they're clearly not looking hard enough. The backlash against the tyres is growing stronger and stronger with each race. It's even got people on that famous F1 site having intelligent debate rather that random name-calling and driver bashing! You also state that it may not be attracting the casual fan because it's hard to follow. Well I admittedly am no expert in this area.. the only experience I can draw on is the one of my girlfriend who was previously starting to gain an interest in the sport. She is now totally confused as to what's going on and, try as I might, I just can't explain it to her.

And what if the tyre situation causes a high profile driver to quit in pursuit of racing somewhere they feel the can push. I know of at least one driver with a management team who wouldn't think twice about placing his driver in an American series. How damaging would it be to the sport, if a driver came out and said "The tyre situation is a joke. This isn't racing. I'm going to go somewhere I can really push myself"? It would create a massive debate across the press - I can just see the arguments now from fans and detractors of any driver who were to do so, but it would absolutely not be positive for Formula 1. What if other drivers were to follow? Lucky for Bernie, I think the liklihood of this happening any time before a floatation is pretty low.

But the real issue I have with the way you are reporting now, James, is not that you like F1 the way it is - everybody is entitled to their own opinion and, while I cannot understand it, that's just the way it is. The problem I have is the way you write when you're comparing the past F1 compared to now. In your reply to me you state that "It was great to work in F1 in the 1990s, in the 2000s and is now", which is a pretty stark contrast to article content like "Whereas in the 2000s F1 was like a 1-0 football match, now it’s like an NBA basketball game which ends 94-92. There is so much going on."

(by the way, sorry I didn't reply earlier... for some reason I don't get email notifications when it's you who has responded to my comments)


James, this site is testament to your commitment to the sport and it is great that us fans can share our views (and grievances). This site has enhanced my F1 experience much more than a lot of the gimmicks we often find ourselves arguing over. Maybe there's a lesson there.

As far as the ideological, existential questions over what F1 wants to be (and who it wants to appeal to), many feel that its not what we want it to be right now. And it may not even be attracting the casual fan either, as the tyre situation is quite hard to follow.

But it's through debate and information that things will change and since this site provides a good mixture of both, it represents a great change agent and a valuable resource to the sport.


Replying to James: DRS is not "a positive for the sport". It makes it downright unfair and unsporting, and there is no happy medium -- in every race it ends up either doing nothing, or making passes a yawnworthy, boring foregone conclusion.

It is an aberration, and it needs to go.


I cannot speak for SKY and what it wants from its presenters. But as regards your comments on me, that's a little uncharitable if you consider where you are making these comments...

I have always loved my job, in all the various roles I have had in F1 for 23 years because I love motorsport and was lucky enough to grow up with it through my Dad. It was great to work in F1 in the 1990s, in the 2000s and is now, not because of DRS or no DRS or Pirelli or Michelin or Bridgestone, but because it's an amazing, complex, constantly evolving world full of fascinating characters. I always say it's like real life on fast forward.

And it's about far more than whether the cars overtake each other all the time or once in a blue moon, which is what you are discussing here.

As for the racing, I feel that starting the fastest car on pole and having him drive away from the field wasn't as exciting as what we have today. That's my view and I think many people would agree with that. However, Bahrain was too much, I think many would agree with that too. I enjoyed refuelling era F1 because strategy was so important. I like there to be that extra dimension to the racing. We have that again now, in a different way, with multi-stop races for tyre changes.

The problem is an ideological one about what you want F1 to be. DRS isn't a perfect science, sometimes it is too powerful. Its usage should be fine tuned. But it is a positive for the sport and if it wasn't I would say so.

As for the tyres, as I said, they have gone a bit too far this year. But I guarantee you that in a few races time you will see less stops and less overtakes as the teams get on top of engineering their cars for the tyres.

If I was so careful about "keeping my job" - and I'm not sure which of my numerous jobs you perceive might be at risk here - why would I create and tirelessly curate a platform like this for fans to engage with the sport and for sometimes harsh criticisms to come out? Don't you imagine the teams, FOTA, FIA FOM etc keep across this comments sections to 'test the temperature' of fan sentiment? Sometimes it is spelled out in painful black and white!

Think about it..


At least you guys watching English Television can hear the Team Radio. My Beef is with RTL commentator Heiko Wasser. He talks all the way through the transmissions. Worse still Christian Danner his "Expert" helping as co-host also cannot hear it through his non-sense historical Facts, so we all miss out.... Sometimes Christian can translate the bits he does hear but it is always a Little bit of what was actually said. Please James, if you run into Heiko PLEASE ask him to SHUT UP! 😉 The rest of the RTL broadcast is truly awesome. Only that Little Piece Needs help.


I see Heiko all the time, we are often a few booths away from each other. But he would argue that many of his viewers don't speak English so he has to translate


Personally, I don't get it.

I don't understand how conservations between a driver and a team can lead to a skewed view of what is really happening (unless it's in code or Italian).

I mean, when Jenson says to the team to calm Perez down, what other meaning does that have apart from JB asking the team to employ team orders.

Also, we had an instance where Rosberg was asking the team to help him jump Lewis in Malaysia >>> same thing, no riddles here.

I still think Jenson doesn't like team orders because drivers' true characters come out during the heat of battle for instance when Vettel seemed to cry when Narain hindered him in Austin 2012, also I recall Jenson calling Kobayashi an idiot after crashing out in Korea 2012.

Other than that, I agree, the team radio has been pure gold for who can forget Jenson singing we're the champions after clinching the title in 2009 or how about Jenson again singing it's 2009 all over again after winning Australia 2012.

As for F1 as a whole, the Americans have it right for sport should always be entertaining till the last second. For sure, your average fan and rantings don't enjoy seeing 0-0 draw where one or both teams decide from the word go to park the team bus in front of goal.


Goferet, things can quite easily be skewed by selectively playing messages. If for example we only heard Rosberg's side of things in Malaysia with no come back from Brawn, it would basically sound like he was just whining. But we heard back from Brawn saying that both of them had been told to back right off and to hold position. We heard that Rosberg was sitting behind Hamilton, despite being faster.

Vettel's "Mark's too slow, get him out of the way" might have been taken differently if we'd heard messages asking him if Mark was going fast enough, or if Vettel needed to be released (not saying that's what happened).

Button saying to calm Perez down might have come across differently if there had been messages before saying that they'd told Perez to back off so both of them could look after their tyres, or something to that effect.

In simple every day terms, it's like walking in half-way through a conversation.


/what other meaning does that have apart from JB asking the team to employ team orders/

I might think it had something in common with an idea that teammates should not eliminate themselves as was the case in Turkey, 2010. But call it team orders if you like.


If JB was so concerned about teammates eliminating each other, why did he put up such a fight against SP?

SP was clearly faster at that stage of the race. Therefore, the logical reaction from a driver worried about the team result would have been to allow SP to pass, unhindered.

Personally, I think JB was more focussed on staying in front of his teammate (as he should be),he could see the writing was on the wall and was using all the 'tools' at his disposal to try to retain position.


Still, JB seemed most concerned when his rear tyre was hit by teammate's front wing, and I can hardly blame him for that.

And I agree that it could be the best for the team (and to each of McLaren drivers) if JB did let SP go instead of fighting him.


Regarding a ‘a skewed view of what is really happening’, what about the selected camera angles broadcast to all the armchair “experts” who then pontificate and debate endlessly about who was really to blame when those controversial accidents occur?

The picture has always been ‘slanted’ and the visual feed is also ‘carefully chosen to build tension’, along with its aural radio counterpart – that is the inherent nature of F1 ‘broadcasting’.

It’s always been about ‘entertainment’, in one guise or another – the ‘simple purity’ of racing is a nostalgic myth.


I think that's why a lot of fans ask for the stewards decisions, with their extra CCTV camera angles etc to be broadcast after the race. When its done in secret fans come up with all sorts of conspiracy theories.

FOM could also make a download of all the team transmissions available post race I suppose - then everyone could listen in and make up their own mind.

Given the power of the Internet now all of these things are technically possible - it wouldn't solve the complaint that a broadcast is slanting things but it would help settle some mysteries after the race.


Good point! And it is frustrating how FOM select camera angles, such as in Brazil last year, when we only saw Senna's view of the collision with Vettel on the side of Senna's car, not from the t-cam. I'm sure had we seen it properly less people would have blamed Senna for the collision.



Herein lies the problem – F1 is constrained by the non-interactive, old-school TV model of top-down selective editing which has been outmoded by the internet paradigm, embracing access to multiple points of view.

We, the viewers, no longer want to simply ‘consume’ stories – we want to actively engage in ‘producing’ them too.


Nico Rosberg's "Remember this one" right at the end of the race was obviously meant for the media.

He could have easily told that to Ross privately, as the race had already ended.

So I think all drivers are deliberately playing their utterances into the media coz they know it's there.


So "Fernando is faster than you" was taken out of context ?


Yes it was taken out of context. We only heard half of the conversation! Apparently Felipe asked Rob, "Hey Rob, out of Alonso and me, who would win a 100m foot race?"

The rest is history.


He meant Frenando, not Fernando. He is faster than you at braking.


Jenson would argue it was taken out of context by the media... Massa would not!


Scuderia McLaren

Lol. That line will haunt Fernando for the rest of his career I think. Smedley delivered it to Massa well.

But then again, that little cookie will probably be put on the pile that includes Singapore 08, the whole 2007 season, Austin 2012, various 2006 Renault paranoid episodes.


Haha, really not a fan eh?

I loved Smedley's radio to Massa during the cool down lap then ... "that was very magnanimous of you ... you won't have any idea what that means, but I'll explain it to you later". Love it!


Well, in Smedley's case, that was just 'cos it was a word that Massa would not have been familiar with, seeing as English is not his mother tongue. I don't think he meant anything other than that, in that moment.

Listening to the pit radio from Bahrain, it's funny how Stella and Alonso try to draw penalties on other drivers ... the quote was "Yes, I saw that ... that was very clear. Don't worry, I think Perez will have his problems with the stewards after the race", after Perez had run Alonso wide out of Turn 4.


I guess that´s one of the problems here. Engineers or team principals explain later. We could avoid a lot of problems when things are explained earlier. From the very first race things need to be clear. For example if RB didn´t want their drivers to fight for the win they must be clear with drivers and everyone within the team that team oders will be used to avoid a possible accident or to save fuel or any issue that might come up


2 points:

1. Jensen was outspoken after the race. His radio broadcasts were not out of context - he repeated them many times afterwards. I think on mature reflection he has realised he over reacted, but he shouldn't be embarrassed, he wanted to beat his teammate but didn't.

2. During a race no one could listen to all of the communications therefore edited versions are fine. However we should have access to all of them afterwards. That would be fun.



I think team radio adds something to the viewing experience, and I suppose there is a great deal of "chatter" going on that we don't hear, and we only hear excerpts that can be taken out of context, but I think on the whole it gives the viewer a greater understanding of what is going on. Does it really matter that the public occasionally get the wrong slant on things? - Not really and I wouldn't personally want to be without it.


James, you should see the hand ringing on Cricket websites over Twenty20 ruining the game, its the same as f1, purists and ex players complaining about the pandering to the casual fan.

Strangely, I agree with the f1 guys who like the fragile tyres, but also cricket purists who prefer test cricket. Though in cricket you can get both, simply ignore the one you don't like.


Im from India where cricket is the most followed game and there is ZERO suggestion here that 20-20 is ruining the game. Its in fact saved the game from dying out eventually.

IMO there are no similarities between the situations in cricket and F1, James was just making the point that every sport, even the most conservative one, has to take steps to make it more entertaining and appealing to the mass audience which includes the die hard fans, the casual viewers & the sport newbie's.


It's just not cricket...


I was just making the point that in all sports the purists, or traditionalists, wil complain about change, especially if they feel it is to attract fans that don't care as much as they do.

I don't want to pick a fight, but India is not the whole world. A lot of English, australian, south african, many other nationalities's fans complain about twenty20. They don't like when their players choose IPL over international cricket, a problem India obviously does not have. This also causes the other countries to shorten test tours, further upsetting the traditionalists.


I agree with you thats its more of a problem for other countries, but apart from England they all have embraced it as the present scenario of world cricket.

Even the England's player association is lobbying with the board to make IPL available to them, last i heard that was the reason the players contracts got delayed.

Anyways this is drifting off topic, so I wont say more on this subject.

Back on topic.

I agree with you that old purist wont like changes that are made in sport just to attract casual viewers. But even they have to realize that any sport needs a fresh in-flow of new viewers, who start off as casual viewers and a part of whom become the next generation of pure F1 fans. If the excitement angle in a sport is not given enough importance that would mean a bleak future for the sport.

This is not to say Im pro-pirelli or even anti-pirelli. The ideal behind them is right, to introduce more excitement. The implementation varies from track to track and sometimes its spot on and sometimes over the top.


I think that the genie is out of the box now, and cannot be put back. The wonderful exchanges between Kimi and his engineer last season, when Kimi told him that he knew what he was doing, and not to keep talking to him, brought the sport alive for many.

However, there is a delay on broadcasting the radio comms, and clearly selection is involved. What Button is really complaining about, I suspect, is the fact that because only part of the exchanges is broadcast they are open to misinterpretation. I agree with your long-time fan who describes the broadcasting of selected messages as a dramatic tool.


I don't think the team radio feeds should be made constantly available and listenable at any time during a session like some might. Then other teams could listen in and they could find out things with regard to strategy, car set-up etc.

It's great that the sport is more open than it used to be but some things must remain a secret and F1 needs to have some secrets kept. It keeps the intrigue and mystery there whilst also bringing out the human side.


My feeling is that the radio messages are interesting at times but I'm not happy with the overall thrust of the BEEB's idea of educating the viewer. I recently watched some excellent videos by Enrique Scalabrone on YouTube about the coanda effect, the ground effect, sidepod shaping, suspension placement strategies and other critical F1 design issues and although it was a non slick, slightly lumbering and lacking the pace of a professional presentation I learned far more in 40 minutes of videos than I have from years of watching the "technical" coverage the BBC offers.

There are reasons why Vettle is outscoring Weber race after race but if you don't understand the level of Adrian Newey's incorporation of the Coanda Effect into Red Bull's design and Vettle's ability to adapt to the non-intuitive driving style required as a result than no amount of team radio snips are going to help you understand why Vettle has been so dominant year after year.

I'm not slamming Gary Anderson, he's a gem but he's restricted to short snippets all too often about the tyres and rarely talks about aerodynamics, At the same time the lead into televised race coverage now features crashes, tires delaminating and other near the edge danger footage which are not the heart and soul of racing.

I wish that the BBC could shift its focus to real fan education rather than pandering to the thrills and spills F1 viewer. In fact writing about Jenson's media quotes about his racing buddy's driving behaviour rather than more F1 relevant topics is a perfect metaphor for the problem.


You just summarised all that is wrong with modern media houses. Everything is dumbed down to levels of disbelief.

I wish more effort would be put into teaching the technical aspects of the sport. People genuinely want to know these things. Topics that are difficult can be illustrated with killer graphics. Graphics is one area of specialisation of media houses, but one which they neglect for meaningless sensationalised drama.


James, I see in the DTM they play pit radio in real time, presumably because germans are less sensitive to swearing.

More importantly, I also see that they are live streaming the races this year, the future of all sport viewing?


Got to be hasn't it?

The infrastructure is in place in F1, but fit a while yet the big TV companies will show the sport

F1 has been more successful than other motorsports in global distribution of TV rights that model still has some legs


I was never very interested in watching basketball games, because all the deciding moments would happen in the last 2 minutes. Why watch the whole game if highlights or just the final moments can provide the whole excitement?

Perhaps that's what is happening to F1. As the action gets more concentrated around key moments (the start and pit-stops), the highlights-only model becomes more attractive. I know people who actually watch the start, go away and ask the race result later.


JB is bothered because those comments showed him up. He's always trying to portray the ”nice guy/good.teammate” image, and the comments showed us that he's just like any other driver out there. He's just butt hurt lol get over it JB, you're not as nice as you'd like us to believe


At one point, wrestling was real. It provided real fights and real action... Then it all went plastic and fake.

Now, the only wrestling fans are kids and no serious father will tell his son that he wrestles for a living.

There's a lesson for F1 in that. Already, there is very little respect for multiple WDC, Vettel for no fault of his, but because of the amount of artifice introduced. Little by little, the sport might begin to lose respect.


Try Googling Hulk Hogans house - now tell me that wrestling isn't serious 🙂


haha! when was TV wrestling ever "real"?? Olympic wrestling maybe...but on TV it was all characters like "The Sheik" "Cry-Baby McCarthy" and "Gorgeous George". 100% showbiz!! boy, my 86-year-old grandfather sure used to get worked-up watching it though! 🙂


Ok, I give it up. I've looked it up a bit and concluded that... I must have been really suckered as a kid! Lol


Well F1 needs to move to allowing all radio broadcast to be heard. They should have online availability to watch every cars onboard camera and listen to any team that you select's radio messages. Should this be a premium in country's like the US that don't pay for it, probably would be OK with me. I know Sky does something similar but try as I have to trick Sky into selling me a TV subscription it wont work without the UK address. 🙂

I know I would easily pay $33 for that kind of iPad app way before the extremely out of date live timing app they have.


What country are you watching from? Here in Mexico I get the Sky feed for free from the internet in HD.


In the US, actually in Texas.

How do you do that?


Let's face it: Jenson has always enjoyed a good whinge about something during his time in F1. This episode is no different.


There is someone on Twitter who is putting up a lot more of the team radio stuff during all sessions of weekend, so i now have that going on my tablet, a long with live timing on my laptop.

But the team radio's are great to hear given us real gems over the years like "not bad for a number two driver".

Just like all things in life, what we see/hear is only a small portion to the full story. Always going to be the case, even with the twitter feed, who knows what else is missed.



with regards to team radio and instructions given to the drivers for pit strategies or any info the teams do not want the other teams to hear - has F1 ever experimented with a form of 'Head up display' similar to that used by fighter pilots? a message display in part of the drivers visor

with google testing their new google glass the technology exits for this


There's already an LED display on the steering wheel. Isn't that already being used to send messages?


The technology is there, but it would most likely be too dangerous, as the driver is not looking at the track. The driver is already busy enough flicking switches and paddles on his steering wheel, having to read a message would just be more of a distraction.

Plus, the chances are, FOM would end up getting access to these, and displaying some of them on screen to the viewers.


Great point from AuraF1 in the article about having all the radio messages available - I wish.

In a way I'd like to get rid of ship-to-shore completely and go back to lap boards.


Agreed! Though its uneasy for old style drivers like Kimi/Alonso/Button the team radio broadcast is definitely bringing fans a bit more closer to the sport and being able to understand what is going on.

Years before we used to see drivers going slow some times but there will be no info whatsoever anywhere why. Now we get to know instantly via Team Radios and through some Teams' Twitter feeds as well and this helps us to understand things a little more. I like it this way..


For so long F1 has been more like dull 0-0 and a 1-0 was a good race. We are still far nearer a 3-2 than NAB scores


NAB is a Bank and your right it's more about money from TV ratings than anything else 🙂 ( know you meant NBA scores)


There are some radio messages, which are enjoyable. For instance, Alonso's talks in Italian, it reminds that there are more nations in the game. Raikkonen's honest, straightforward replies are also pleasing (thinking of Abu Dhabi 2012).

But I don't think making radio messages public would help the audience to understand F1. These days it is all about engineering and money, but they never discuss these vital things over the radio. Educating takes years, obviously.

So mostly we hear standardized "fantastic job, thanks guys, box box box" kind of stuff. There is nothing to do with such talks, silence or engine sound would be better.


For some reason I always end up posting a huge post somewhere on the net on a Sunday. Sorry James, it looks like you are getting today's!!!

TL;DR DRS is evil, anticipation is king, and I want football.

The NBA style is essentially down to the DRS. And that to my mind is making F1 more spectacular, but much less exciting. One of the McLaren big wigs said it best then he point out that edge of the seat excitement comes from the *anticipation* of an over take, and not the over take itself. DRS destroys that.

DRS makes an over take almost certain. We see a driver catch another driver, and far too often he just cruises up, hits the button and passes, the driver in front helpless and stranded. Pre-DRS the catching driver would have to work his way round, after several attempts. Whatever. Point being, its was not a certainty, where as now it almost is. Where is the excitement there? There is literally no battle.

Yeah, I know F1 had over taking problems in the past, but I'm not sure they were real. I may well be factually wrong, but it seems now that there is more normal overtaking than there was in the worst years of F1. What that suggests is that DRS is not necessary, and that possibly drivers just feared or avoided over taking in the past. DRS overtakes seem to have given them the confidence to try more overtaking in general. Which suggests to me that there could have been more over taking in the past but drivers didn't want to, or wrongly believed they couldn't.

If over taking must be aided, I really wish F1 had gone for the Indycar style 20 per race use any time model. That way the drivers could use it to overtake or defend, but also have to manage where and when to use it. It would always be even.

Also, looking at your two analogies, football and NBA, consider how the crowds react. Fans at a football match are constantly excited and willing their players on. It hardly lets up while they think the might be a goal. With NBA, there is almost no point watching the first 3 quarters. The are not exciting. Both teams just alternately score, usually remaining close to each other. You can mentally switch off, wander off for a soda, cam back, check the score, then settle in for the last bit of the game where it gets exciting. What is the point of that? If F1 gets any more contrived, it will be the same situation as NBA.

Well, I want football.

Lastly, just watched the MotoGP and some of the BTCC coverage. Both more exciting, and I don't really know what I'm watching like I do with F1. Anticipation, all about the anticipation. And when the move happens, it is deep, skilled and exciting.


F1 is not special. Any public figure needs to realize that soundbites snippets rule the day. To act as if this is some kind of "affront" to reality is simply politics in and of itself. Case in point: the 24 hour news cycle, political quotes, 140 character limit on twitter, post game(race) interview quotes, "post race articles" that appear before the cars have reached parc ferme. You never hear these complaints from drivers, much less ANY public figure when the soundbite chosen suits their purpose or shows them favorably. Man up JB and get the sand out of your vag.


Without the team radio feed, we as F1 fans would have lived a life without the gem of a phrase that is;


Nuff said.


hahaha..100% agree.

best ever radio feed ever..

"Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes..I am doing all the tyres, you dont have to remind every second"

Adrian Newey Jnr

I was just about to post this and then someone beat me to it.

James - you rightly point out that some drivers are typecast based on "hurry up" style messages from the engineers. However, they are generally underperforming relative to their teammates, so are already under pressure. Broadcasting this message doesn't change that.

However, on the other side, you have drivers like Kimi who's comment "leave me alone.." has brought him new fans based on his persona coming out. So in my opinion, it can work just for a driver as against him.

The fans want to get an insight into the drivers as opposed to the torrent of carefully managed corporate spin. Just look at what has happened to Vettel's image recently. His carefully crafted image built up over the past decade has been unravelled by a few seconds of audio.


"But team radio is at the heart of the modern F1, whether the drivers like it or not."

Very well said.


Out of interest, how many people are listening to the radio feeds to produce the edit that we hear?

Would love to know how many people are involved in the TV coverage generally, it must be a very large team of people and equipment being sent around the world?


I can understand how a few words on team radio can be skewed the wrong way. But certainly Jensons words were very authentic because they are almost exactly the same words he used in Canada 2011 with a few extra added to Sergio this year. I said before rightly of wrongly if you were in his position and a team mate ran into you- I think you would be saying a hell of a lot worse. In that regard I don't believe there is anything to misconstrue. It's the fact that Jenson is reacting the way he is that is uncovering his persona as a whinger and a political player in the team.

As far as team radio goes, to me it adds very little to the racing experience and actually just a distraction to the coverage . Especially given that most of what is said is masked or hidden in code and as we know these snippets like any other can be taken out of context like any other incident.

Sure it adds a little drama to the show for those fans that don't understand the sport and the incredible risks these drivers take.But so long as it doesn't turn into soap opera it's ok in drawing new fans in. The next step would be to slowly educate the new fans. Like a Pre race show instructing people in the finer details of F1- I think this would enhance the viewing if people really understand the technical and background aspects of the sport.


I think we need to strike a balance between what is to be aired and what is not for confidentiality sake.

Yes, Button is right to an extent that it does sometime tarnish a driver's or a team's image and this is counterproductive when it happens especially when Formula one is in the business of building and displaying brands for others (its sponsors). Now, when Ferrari's instructions about Feranando being faster is aired and when Vettel disobeys 'multi-21' and Button's constant whining and complaining over team radios puts brands which are associated with them in a bad light and this is rather unfair to the sponsors who pay millions for elevating their brands through the formula one medium.

But on the other hand when Kimi behaves like a rockstar and blatantly asks the team to leave him alone, results in instant brand elevation to all those that are associated with the team.

So, I feel that to balance this out, each team be provided a specific confidential information transmission window and during which all radio communications of that team must be blacked out from the public and all media.

Tornillo Amarillo

Manipulation, well the cameras cannot get it all all the time, so the same happens with the radio messages, they can broadcast some only.

So I think the radio is great even if drivers can intend manipulate the Stewards complaining against other drivers, which is boring for the fans.

And in this boring Pirellis era, the radio messages bring a lot of entertaining and sometimes a good reason for not to turn the TV off.

Think about Kimi saying "I know what I'm doing" or Jenson asking something like "should I fight?"

Certainly, some drivers who lack SPEED could do more use of the radio in a political way in order to gain something off track.


Regarding the ability in some categories for the commentators to actually talk to the drivers in car, I'd rather that was kept out of F1. Last year in V8SCs Mark Winterbottom's quali lap at I think the Gold Coast was ruined because for whatever reason there was a fault and he was hearing them talking all through the lap. Quite distracting. And as we've seen lately (DRS, in car flag system, etc.), F1 isn't exactly fault-proof.

They don't talk to them anymore mid-race or anything, just on the cool down after a shoot-out lap or after finishing the race. And even then, there isn't really much to be gained from it. "Yeah, it was a tough race," or "Yeah, it felt like a pretty good lap, we'll just have to wait and see." Nothing really that can't wait 'til the driver is out of the car and accessible to the media.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure they even do it in V8SCs anymore. I don't recall hearing anything yet this year. Maybe they canned it to be safe after that problem last year.


All that will happen now is that drivers will be very circumspect about what they say on the radio. Some might even use it for their own ends. So, the 'surprise' part of JB/SP broadcast will be absent.

Carlos Marques

The only thing that annoys me is the time delay. You hear the revs in the background and then you look at the picture and the guy is taking a slow corner- 3 laps after the radio message was broadcast.

Also, it's hard to understand most of the messages. If they're going to time delay, at least put some subtitles (in English) on the screen alongside the fuzzy "radio trans mission" icon.

And for real fans, I say create an app that broadcasts radio transmissions for a particular team and/or driver in real-time, with no filtering.


In Australia we are currently lucky enough to have live free to air coverage of the GP's, the early part of the season is fantastic the first 5 or so then everything gets later and later for us. The timing app is quite expensive at around $30au for the season but you can get all of the live timing on your PC for free from the official F1 site running on a JAVA program and it is just as good as the app.

As for team radio being played during the coverage it really should be used in proper context to give a real idea of the various situations during a GP.


I would not call it lucky. Hopefully I only had to endure one such lucky race last season. Due to I was moving and internet connection was not up yet.

If live streams were to disappear and FOM did not provide similar service, I would not be following F1. I watched every race for the past two years and nearly all free practice sessions.

But this time F1 is of such magnitude that everything should be on-line, global and on demand. I want to re-watch/listen my favourite moments at any time with out have to go to youtube in hope that someone actually captured the moment, only for FOM to delete that video later on. It's pathetic, who ever is responsible for current model is a incompetent.


Nothing can beat this on team radio.

Remember the Montoya on Raikkonen rant.


Team radio is so important to add spice to F1. I can't imagine not having any.


i have just watched the race edits on the official f1 site and cannot believe vettel was allowed to get away with smashing into rosberg at the apex of a corner.

mercedes and roberg need to be firmer with race control and get them to remove such levels of disrespectful driving from f1. it looks terrible, worse than bullying.


A lot of these posts miss the wider point. Like it or not, the "pinnacle of motorsport" is going where the money is and increasing the entertainment value and deceasing the impact of technological superiority so as to appeal more to the casual fans than the hard core.

colin grayson

it seems to me that the fans who contribute to these blogs basically divide into two mindsets

the ..I want to see balls out racing , that's why I watch , thrills and spills

and ....I want to follow the development in the technology , watch the strategy play out , and assess what is down to the driver and what is down to the equipment ...who's making the best of what he has

I suspect , no more than that ,that this is to an extent age related...no prizes for guessing which is which ; being firmly in the latter group [ not surprising in view of my age ] I think it is because F1 was ever thus , getting the car to the finish was a major part of a drivers skill [ hence ..to finish first , first you have to finish ]; younger fans were not about in that era so it wouldn't impinge itself on their conciousness

so It won't surprise anyone that I largely agree with james's lengthy post , I don't agree with his like of refuelling [ it seems to me that tyres that require 2/3 stops do the job better , safer and are a race within a race ], and am anti DRS because I feel that with kers and the tyres which are demanded too many changes have been made at the same time , and unnecessarily

I also feel that tracks have become too biased towards keeping cars in the race , drivers now try manoeuvres that would have got them killed in the past ; now then can just carry on , when getting stuck in a gravel trap and facing the ire of the team would be a more suitable result imho

I know F1 is no longer a sport per se , like many sports it has become a business ; but like any good sport there has to be an element of luck and , business or not , F1 still needs that


F1 is neither exciting or authentic... it's just a bit of time wasting now... there was a time, when mechanical grip and aero were in balance... that was truly exciting... slip-streaming and dare-devil driving had me on the edge of my seat.

Now, with sexy F1, I hardly care at all what is happening... there are just a minute set of interesting points. Will Hamilton have an impact at Mercedes etc.

The actual racing, where the real buzz used to be is dead and buried.

Blue flag overtaking (DRS) and anti-racing rules are dull beyond belief.


Great article James!

The main purpose of Formula 1 may be to entertain the fans but a balance must be found. Everyone loves an eventful race but over-effective DRS zones and radio messages taken out of context make the Championship seem artificial. Viewers want to be entertained, however they still want to feel like they're watching a sport, not a show.


The situation with Button is interesting. He comes across as very likeable, but, at the same time, it's difficult to not come to the conclusion that he uses his status as BBC and Brundle's golden boy to put forward his own agenda. In this case, it comes across as a little rich that he all of a sudden has a problem with the way team radio transmissions are aired. It hasn't suddenly changed, has it?

That being said, there is something that is not quite right about the way the FOM or FIA (whoever it is that's responsible for the media feed). I recall in 2011, the f1.com website featured a highlight video of the Turkey GP that really focused on the team radio (Hamilton talking to race engineer about whether Button would try to overtake him... all of this post the Vettel-Webber smash). It was the first time I saw them go to the effort of showing the team radio on screen in subtitle form. And yet, they didn't do that when similar events have taken place (for example, there is nothing like that on the Malaysia race edit this year). Who decides? and what is the agenda?

James, I'm interested in the NBA analogy. Seems a strange one. I'd be interested to know more about your thinking behind this as I personally would never think of this.... aside from the fact that you could argue that what happens in the first half or, indeed the regular season, now counts for about as much as qualifying does, i.e. not as much as you might think.


In football you get a few goals maximum in a typical game

In NBA, there's a basket scored every few seconds.

F1 in Bahrain made your head hurt there was so much going on all the time. That's the analogy


I'd love for re-fuelling to return. It adds something to qualifying, it adds something to the race and it adds something to the period between qualifying and the race (I could never wait for the car weights to be revealed a few hours after quail).

All of this added a completely different aspect to the race weekend. DRS and KERS are fine, but it's also so predictable. Re-fuelling allows for so much more variety in strategy. Think of Mercedes, for example... no longer would they necessarily be screwed by having a car that chews up its tyres. Instead, they'd be able to play to their strengths.

What's more, the cost argue barely stacks up these days. What price shipping and installing the fuel rigs everywhere compared to huge shifts in regs and the yearly loophole in the rules that everybody is then forced to chuck buckets of cash at to stay competitive?

This might well be a pipe dream, but James, can you tell me if it's every mentioned when changes to rules and regulations are discussed?


Even that most conservative of sports, cricket, has introduced a 20 over slugfest, called 20-20, which is proving popular with younger audiences.

Should that be slogfest?

Danny Almonte

Button seems to be the only driver ever to complain about team radio. It concerned him so much that he hijacked an interview to put his spin on things. He should be focused on improving his driving. He was so desperate to keep a much faster Perez behind him that he ruined his own race.


We are never going to listen to a full conversation on Radio Messages, so we are always going to be a little uncertain of what Situations are Playing out, or what the context of them are, but I find it an interesting insight, and the Teams will ultimately find a way round if they need to.

And they do add Drama, who would remember Germany 2010 if not for, 'Fernando is Faster than you'!

I must admit, I turned off F1 from the Late 90s as it just got a little Dull. Lights to Flag Victories may have been Pure, but they were also Boring. Modern F1 has made me sit up again, and start Watching, DRS, KERS, Pirelli, have all made the Sport more Entertaining, but ultimately the Best Car and Drivers still win and Qualifying still has a relevance.

There is a part of me that feels it not as Pure as Used to be, but then Water is dull until you add something to it.

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