Taxi for Mr Willis?

There have been times when it would have been interesting to hear what was being said on a driver's radio; when Michael Schumacher won his sixth title, perhaps, or when Juan Pablo Montoya got a penalty for shunting Rubens Barrichello at ...

There have been times when it would have been interesting to hear what was being said on a driver's radio; when Michael Schumacher won his sixth title, perhaps, or when Juan Pablo Montoya got a penalty for shunting Rubens Barrichello at Indianapolis. The latter would probably make your ears burn but radio communication is obviously an important part of any team.

BAR technical director Geoff Willis keeps an ear on what's going on: "The two senior race engineers -- Jock Clear and Craig Wilson -- talk to each other all the time, acting as the link between the two sides of the team," he explained. "And I can talk to any of them. I don't talk much, but if I think that one side doesn't know what the other one's doing, then I will let them know."

"So drivers will know when they've got problems. And we'll always make sure that when one side is thinking of when they're going to stop, they'll talk to the other side. If both want to stop at lap 36, then the leading driver has the first choice. There's sometimes a bit of horse-trading. Say, if one side needs to agree go one shorter, and then they may say, 'well actually we don't mind, one way or the other."

Radio communications, however, are not private so no important things are discussed when other ears might be listening. Few teams resort to the expensive option of scrambling radio frequencies -- and sometimes it's possible to get something unexpected.

"People do listen to other radio channels, so we prefer to speak face to face," said Willis. "Although you can scramble your radio channels, it's a complicated and expensive business and there are only a couple of teams left that still do it. It is therefore technically possible for anyone to tune into other teams' channels. You can even get the local taxi firm sometimes."

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya