Analysis: The full scope of F1's 2016 radio ban


Almost 18 months after the idea of a team radio clampdown in Formula 1 was first proposed by the FIA, it will finally fully come into force at the Australian Grand Prix.

After originally coming up in September 2014 as part of an effort to make drivers 'heroes' again, that first attempt to limit communication between teams and drivers was put on the back burner after complaints it was technically a step too far to introduce too quickly.

For at that stage, F1's new turbo hybrid regulations were still in their infancy and teams and drivers still had plenty to learn about how to manage fuel economy, energy deployment and race tactics.

Instead, the introduction got staggered. The first phase – which has been up until now – has focused solely on driver coaching.

This effectively outlawed information like racing lines, gear selection, braking points and speed comparisons.

A push to widen the scope for 2015 was abandoned last year but, ahead of this season, it has been deemed that teams and drivers know enough about how their machinery operates for the communication ties between pit wall and cockpit to be severely limited.

So from now on, the FIA will strictly enforce Article 20.1 of F1's Sporting Regulations which states that: "The driver must drive the car alone and unaided."

What does this mean?

In a note that F1 race director Charlie Whiting sent to teams last December, he made clear just how wide the ban would extend.

For rather than making a list of what teams were forbidden from communicating, he stated that only certain messages would be allowed – either on team radio or the pit boards.

Whiting wrote: "Any other message is likely to be considered a breach of Article 20.1 of the Sporting Regulation."

However, it is understood that discussions remain ongoing about items that should be removed or added to the list - something that may not be nailed down until the eve of the Melbourne weekend.

The original restrictions though does offer an insight in to how much things will change in 2016

The original list of what is allowed

* Indication of a critical problem with the car, e.g. a puncture warning or damage+

* Indication of a problem with a competitor's car+

* Instruction to enter the pit lane in order to fix or retire the car+

* Wet track, oil or debris in certain corners+

* Marshalling information (red flag, yellow flag, race start aborted or other similar instructions or information from race control)+

* Instructions to swap positions with other drivers+

* Acknowledgement that a driver message has been heard

* Lap or sector time detail

* Lap time detail of a competitor

* Gaps to a competitor during practice session or race

* 'Push hard', 'Push now', 'You will be racing xx' or similar

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

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

* Tyre choice at the next pit stop

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

* Tyre specification of a competitor

* Information concerning a competitor's likely race strategy

* Safety Car window

* Driving breaches by team driver or competitors, e.g. missing chicanes, running off track, time penalty will be applied etc.

* Notification that DRS is enabled or disabled

* Dealing with a DRS system failure

* Change of front wing position at next pit stop

* Oil transfer

* When to enter the pits

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

* Reminders about track limits

* Information concerning damage to the car

* Passing on messages from race control

* Number of laps remaining

* Test sequence information during practice sessions, e.g. aero-mapping

* Weather information

* Instructions to select driver defaults for the sole purpose of mitigating loss of function of a sensor, actuator or controller whose degradation or failure was not detected and handled by the on-board software. In according with Article 8.2.4, any new setting chosen in this way must not enhance the performance of the car beyond that prior to the loss of function+

(+) These are the only messages that may be passed to the drivers, whilst he is in the car and on the track, from the time the car leaves the garage for the first time after the pit lane is open on the day of the race until the start of the race.

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Series Formula 1
Article type Analysis