F1 Driver coaching via radio – what is and is not allowed in 2015
Innovation
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  13 Feb 2015   |  3:49 pm GMT  |  263 comments

Drivers racing the 2015 season will still be subject to the same radio message restrictions imposed by the FIA last year, with the governing body adding that a “a few more” may be included before the start of the season.

Last year, in response to a belief that information being relayed to drivers by engineers concerning performance was against the spirit of article 20.1 of the Sporting Regulations, which state that “the driver must drive the car alone and unaided”, the FIA contemplated a blanket ban on radio traffic between teams and drivers concerning car and driver performance.

However, following consultation with teams, officials modified their position, saying, at the Singapore Grand Prix, that it would delay restricting car performance messages until this season due to the complexity of introducing the ban at short notice and the potential for differing effects among teams. The FIA issued a revised advisory specifying a range of messages that would no longer be permitted.

According to an FIA spokesman the F1 Strategy Group has now ruled that the current restrictions are sufficient and that race officials will expect teams to continue to respect the technical directive issued in Singapore.

“The Strategy Group, from whom the original request to limit what messages could be delivered to the drivers, now feel that the balance is right by only limiting messages that can be considered driver “coaching”,” said the FIA spokesman. “Therefore, the only messages we will not permit are those listed in TD/041-14 from last year.”

He added, however, that there is still scope for further message types to be prohibited.

“We may add a few to this before the start of the season and re-issue the TD,” he said.

The issue of driver coaching is of particular relevance this year to teams such as Toro Rosso, who are fielding two rookies, including F1’s youngest driver, 17-year-old Max Verstappen.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 14.33.35

Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost was strong opponent of the coaching ban, with the team boss saying last September that the changes contained in the technical directive.

“The changes are absolutely not necessary,” he said during the FIA’s press conference in Singapore.

“All the information the drivers get is also entertainment for the people in front of the TV to hear,” he added.

“For us of course it’s a big disadvantage because the more un-experienced the driver is there’s more information you have to give him.

“For me it’s absolutely nonsense what we are discussing here because in all the other kinds of sports a coach gives some informations, instructions to a football player, for example, on the sideline or wherever.

“This does not mean that the sportsman is not able to do his job, he can do his job, he does do his job, but maybe he can do it in a better way, it’s just a performance improvement. Therefore I don’t understand it.”

Under FIA technical directive TD/041 messages concerning the following are not permitted (either by radio or pit board)

           Driving lines on the circuit.
–           Contact with kerbs.
–           Car set up parameters for specific corners.
–           Comparative or absolute sector time detail of another driver.
–           Speeds in corners compared to another driver.
–           Gear selection compared with another driver.
–           Gear selection in general.
–           Braking points.
–           Rate of braking compared to another driver.
–           Rate of braking or application of brakes in general.
–           Car stability under braking.
–           Throttle application compared to another driver.
–           Throttle application in general.
           Use of DRS compared with another driver.
–           Use of any overtake button.
–           Driving technique in general.

What do you think? Is this the right level of coaching or should it go further? Leave your comments below

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1

Are coast and lift instructions allowed? I thought these were a part of braking, but Lewis appeared to be coached at least twice during the Canadian GP this weekend without anyone commenting on it, so now I’m confused!

2

Why don’t they just use a Google glass style head up display with loads of info on it..? Comparative lap times, splits, fuel levels etc.

3

I’m totally opposed to coaching.

In Kimi’s immortal words ‘I know what I am doing’ let’s leave it at that.

I’d also suggest pit-car communication should be heavily restricted, other than for emergencies.

So Iet’s say a black-out for the first 30 minutes, then a 5-minute window, then another 30 minutes and so on. Pit calls could be by ‘dash-message’.

Let’s get F1 back to drivers actually doing the driving

4

I think the coaching was universal so no one was benefitting more than another. If only one team had been allowed while the others were not then it would be a problem. This is not a technical fix like RBs blown diffuser or a better engine…

So taking the messages away doesn’t help or change much. The benefit of having all that radio comms was that spectators at home could atleast know sooner if a driver was having problems or whatever.

Oh by the way, F1 cars on TV are most of the times difficult to decipher performance issues, so knowing from radio that someone was slower in a corner or on entry or exit made in interesting to see if someone could exploit that weakness.

But as others have said, F1 rules are spoiling the sport and at this rate maybe they should just make it like Formula Renault or something and give everyone identical cars with only color and name of drivers being different.

5

The rule seems fine except that it’s ridiculous during PRACTICE not to be able to say how the car’s working under braking, and not to be able to coach the driver. Every athlete has the right to be coached during practice, that is part of sport. So turn off the radio and plug the helmet into a cell phone.

6

I can understand the need to ban the communications regarding choosing the right gear, braking points and driving lines as that is up to the driver to decide. Plus they have endless time in the simulators and 4 hours of practice and qualifying each weekend to get the optimum feel/drive for the circuit?!

Communication regarding the opposition going faster, the need to save fuel or issues with the engine are fine and should be able to stay.

Franz Tost is just worried that his gamble won’t pay off….

Formula 1 are supposed to be the elite of the elite in terms of circuit racing drivers (on 4 wheels). If they can’t get the braking zones, gear selections and driving lines right then they shouldn’t be there….!!!!!

7

they should start and use morse …

8

Nico Rosberg is single-handedly responsible for this rule… 😀

9

Forget coaching. I primarily use radios for music, especially when driving.

What can make a driver quicker than his favorite song?

Pump some Jimi Hendrix through the radios to get an extra tenth per sector.

10

Once again in an effort to improve, the order of complexity to communicate will increase, as soon as one team finds a way around these rules the rest will follow.

11

“Punish suspected code messages with drive-throughs and race on.”

Who decides whether it’s “suspected” to be coded?

12

Engineer: “Nico, the goldfish in the back needs to be fed twice three minutes before midnight”

Nico: “Copy that…” …changes diff settings… “…goldfish fed” 🙂

Seriously, if the FIA thinks that a team is using coded messages then they’ll look into it and as for the teams? Prepare for paranoia overdrive 🙂

13

James

Here is an idea that might benefit both sides of the dispute.

1. Allow pit to car during Friday and Saturday.

2. For race day, only allow pit to car while the car is in pit lane. They can install some sort of blockage system, once the car leaves the official pit lane, like they have with speeding in pit lane. TV viewers can hear the talk between Driver and Engineer.

3. On track, racing, (Sunday) allow only, say 20 pre-approved by all teams a standard pre-recorded message that will be displayed on the Steering wheel – screen to inform the driver. The TV viewers will also see the same message at the same time.

4. Race control has the only car to race control (Audio)channel, during a race, in which they Race control can talk directly to the driver. Race Control currently has all the live feeds from each camera, so adding in an audio channel is a pretty simple thing to do & easy to control.

The above allows the TV viewer to feel they are still part of the race, while it does stop a lot of coaching which was going on. These drivers should be all at the top of their game and know who to drive a race. This is after all F1, or is it?

14

No “coaching” whatsoever. It’s the DRIVER, not the pit wall that should decide.

Only urgent, safety required radio calls, e.g., tire going down, car on fire, etc.

15

They’ve banned split times in WRC this year (they used to come up in on the driver’s dash or in the navigator’s ear). So now, when they’re in a stage, they have no way of knowing how the others are doing.

Today – final day of Sweden for the non followers – they went into the final stage with 3.6secs between 1st and 3rd. And that’s after 300kms. That’s as close as close F1 gaps after a full race distance – except they’re driving on forestry roads on snow and ice!

So Neuville (3rd), then Ogier (2nd), got to the end having no more idea that us TV followers how Mikkelsen (1st) would do. (And if you didn’t see it Mikkelsen hit a snow bank, half spun, and lost time.)

But my point isn’t that it’s amazing – it is without a doubt – it’s that as a TV spectator you end up feeling at one with the drivers. Having completed Neuville was watching the big screen at the finish (same picture as mine) to see how Ogier did, then likewise both as Mikkelsen came through. It was really good, edge of the seat TV, and made the spectator feel at one with the competitors. F1 hasn’t got that. They should watch and learn.

(Oh – Ogier won, Neuville was second, and Mikkelsen third if you missed it.)

16

I totally agree there should be a ban during a race for communications on driving lines, braking, throttle, gear selection and driving technique in general. If any team wants to do any coaching, it should be done during practice or in a simulator in their home base.

17

Let them talk. The cars have radios, let them use them. Say anything, uncoded, and with the television audience in mind. Punish suspected code messages with drive-throughs and race on.

18

@ tacomajack…with all the added time in the pits resulting from your penalties races would never go the distance and fall over at the 2hr limit !

19

What stupid arguments we get into

Radios should only be used as a warning of an accident or track blockage in front, or in terms brake failure is imminent in the team’s opinion.

Teams can only tell the driver to come in with no other information.

Drivers can only report coming into the pits next for tires or a problem with the car

Telemetry from all teams should be available to the viewers including engine power settings, car temperatures in real time

Any coded information should only be available via pit boards they

Any driver told to hold station against his teammate should lose constructors points

No driver should be told to conserve fuel if they don’t put enough and it runs out of fuel so be it racing is racing. The cars never run with the full hundred kilo fuel weight anyway. If they are told to conserve fuel again remove constructor’s points.

Just want to see flat out racing the way it should be

20

@ lee…what you have said mirrors almost exactly what i have said. you have added something extra re points and i fully agree. well said.

21

There’s a major flaw in Tost’s argument when he says other sports folks have coaches – yes they do but predominantly not when they are actually competing in something. A footballer doesn’t have an ear piece telling him where to go with the ball, neither does a tennis player etc A downhill ski racer doesn’t have someone shouting advice into his ear as he tears down the slopes, the list is endless. Coaching can happen out of the car of course, I agree with that but the driver should apply his skills unaided when in the heat of competition just like most other sports people. I know there are exceptions like pro cycling but just let competitors get on with it. If the drivers are young, they need to suck it up, if they can’t handle the cars they shouldn’t be in F1.

22

To better understand the implications of, I (and I’m sure plenty of others) would love an article that breaks down some of the key messages we as fans were able to hear through tv over the last few years and to understand which ones are and won’t be allowed, and why. As it is it’s difficult to ascertain what this means.

For example, what would the Merc drivers have been told in Canada last year when their brakes were failing?

23
Thomas in Adelaide

*Chooses to field two rookie drivers.

*Complains about disadvantageous rules that have been in place since last year.

Plenty of experienced drivers out there looking for a seat Toro Rosso…..

24

DON’T TELL ME HOW TO DRIVE THE CAR!

OR

GET MARK OUT OF THE WAY, HE IS TOO SLOW!

CLASSICS 🙂

25

All the people comparing the banned messages to messages relayed in other sports have obviously never sat in or on a racing machine. There is a massive difference between going hard and going fast. You can be riding/driving you guts out and not going quickly. Its what defines good riders and drivers. Its not the same as other sport. It would be like telling a footballer “ok, so kick the ball 0.002cm lower with 0.0014 more lb/ft toward the grind reference 2.2325455”

That is the level of detail they have got to in F1 with braking distances and throttle application and bias etc. The drivers should have to drive the dam car without anyone telling him how to do it.

This is the problem with modern F1. Any half decent driver can do it. its no longer an extreme sport. its barely exciting. Ever seen the onboards from the old cars or ever the old le man cars? That.s what they need to get back to. Dangerous racing machines.

A 16 year old boy drove one at full speed last year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

F1? Ha good one.

26

Completely agree with the current regulations. Driver coaching should not be allowed in practice, qualifying or races.

There’s an argument for both sides, but in a sport where technology is already a bigger performance differentiator, we need to place more emphasis on driver effort and ability for enjoyment in my opinion.

Last season after the ban seemed to be good I felt.

27

Its surprising with the overtaking rules as they are, that this is not the season of sending out the engraved invitations to selected opponents to allow them pass in various races.

Reciprocal missives are of course expected and all will be studied by the Stewards during and after each race, to ensure that nobody overtook anybody without the appropriate invitation. It is of course a time that race strategy is devised for the whole season, though some invitations may be issued after each race, the bulk must be in each recipient’s possession by a month before the first race.

The black market in such invitations reaches a peak in the week before Monaco where of course without the necessary card, overtaking is impossible. Memories of Mansell chasing Senna before the invitation system prove the point. (In fact such is the demand that quantitative easing has been hinted at for Monte Carlo) Stories of secret bidding wars for overtaking rights on key players cannot be verified, as those of the overtakee buying up his own rights to prevent his position slipping, are hotly denied.

The whole unsavoury matter has remained until now a very well kept secret, any official, team member or driver will no doubt stoutly deny the existence of the whole system.

Hidden rules eh?

28

Then what’s the point of calling it teamwork. New technology should be embraced as a whole, drivers still have to step on the throttle or whatever even with coaching and mistakes can still be made. I’m just hanging around until it’s totally unbearable.

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