Technical Radio ban- revisited

The Artist.....

Champion Elect
Following the Baku race, a number of drivers and team bosses have come out, complaining about the ban on communications about car settings and driver coaching. Drivers, including multiple world champions Hamilton, Alonso, and Raikonnen have been vocal recently about this ban, and they feel that it is ridiculous that given the complexity of a modern F1 car, and the number of available settings, that the engineers, with more information cannot tell them what to do- and this view has been backed up by Toto Wolff.

This does raise a question, but I don't think that the solution is to allow driver coaching again; if there are too many settings on an F1 car (which I have long believed), then they need to be simplified; the steering wheel has so many switches and controls on, that there are likely to be about a million different combinations of settings available to a driver- is this really necessary?

Even as recently as the 1990s, the drivers could adjust only one or two things in the car; the brake balance (which was adjusted through a screw wheel they had to turn), sometimes the rev limiter (which could be removed temporarily), and that was about it.

Now the drivers can adjust recharge rates, the fuel flow to the engine, the fuel/air mix, the brake balance, etc etc with millions of electronic settings.

Rather than allow radios, simply simplify the cars!
As recently as the 1990s road cars only had a few controls, and anybody with a wrench could fix an engine...

Since then technology has advanced and with that the complexity of cars and their controls has increased. Reducing the complexity like you suggest would amount to returning to technology of the previous millenium. That might be OK for a spec racing series, and might even create great racing. However it is entirely against the spirit of F1, which is supposed to be at the head of the field technologically.
I don't think anyone has suggested on this thread that safety was the issue, just the complexity of the car. Maybe they should make all racing drivers become engineers as well ?
As Max said in the pen after the race: perhaps drivers should do their homework a bit more thoroughly! (though I guess he still has the freshest memory of having to do homework...).
I am Jack's Total Lack Of Sympathy where the drivers being most vocal about it are concerned - they get paid enough, and have enough time to revise this sort of thing on their frequent flights, at the very least. Boo hoo...
This is a non-issue.

Agreed - and not just with regards to safety. As I see it the 'pure racing' days of old are long-gone, the sport is crazily technical, and drivers have to keep up with the rules and regulations of the day. However uncomfortable that is, the rewards cover it, and any other misgivings about how the rules 'n' regs damage the sport have to be soaked up by the drivers, or fought against – but not by whingeing.
Safety has not been compromised by current radio rules.
This is a non-issue.

This was my view - although Hamilton did state that he was spending much of the lap looking at the steering wheel! I can see the point he is trying to make - if you spend a long time trying to tune your radio on a car journey, you are much more likely to hit another car, and this is a similar sort of issue.

However, it does come down to drivers either learning where all of the settings are, and what they do, or alternatively, the teams making the cars simpler in terms of their electronics - but possibly making the driving element more challenging!
The issue is not the drivers here, just look at the basic maths of the problem and I will simplify it into units of 10 to make the maths a lot simpler but probably over exaggerate to make the point :-

We have the basic engine, this has 10 settings for engine management, this gives us 10 things to remember.
But we also have the turbo settings, this is another 10 settings which gives us 100 combinations to remember.
Then we have the ERS collection settings, at another 10 this gives us 1,000 combinations to remember.
We add in the ERS discharge settings of another 10, so we have 10,000 combinations to remember.
Add in brake bias, differential, clutch etc etc and we at over 1,000,000 combinations of switches that can be set by the driver.

Now I will round this out to 1,000,000 settings that have to be remembered. Of that lets say only 10% will cause an issue and shouldn't be set, so we have to remember 100,000 settings combinations that we have to avoid. But you can't just remember those 10% because you also need to remember what needs to be set at specific points of the race (this will change race by race depending on the track, temperature, tyres, rain, position in the race etc etc). Even if that is again only another 10% of the combinations we now have 200,000 setting combinations to remember. This 200,000 will change race by race and day by day during a race weekend..

Now even if you have a good enough memory to remember all of these combinations, imagine driving at 200+ mph fighting for positions and driving a ar which is hard to handle at the best of times and getting one of those settings wrong to fit into the setting combinations that are going to cause an issue, then try debugging it.

Especially frustrating when you know that the guy on the other end of the pit radio can say "change switch 2 to position 5" and it will get resolved.

Now yes, we could simplify the settings available to drivers, but that would involve removing technology from the car, or making it so that the drivers are not pushing the car to the edge at all times that they are able to. Not something that should be done for F1 as it is supposed to be the pinnacle of automotive tech and pushed the extreme at all times during a race.

I have no problems with banning engineers telling the driver during a session that they could brake later into a corner or carry more speed in a specific section as that is driving, but when there is an issue in the car (even if it is caused by driver error) that can be fixed quickly and easily with a single radio message, then where is the problem? In fact the problem lies in loosing what was about to become an interesting battle on track because they couldn't have a 10 second radio message.

So yes, the rules over radio messages need to be altered, this should be about "the show" which is something that was sadly lacking during the race at times because those drivers in a position to provide a show were not able to due to these rules.
If 25% of a class fail a maths exams do you

a) maybe look at the exam to see if it's too complex

b) look at the teaching methods to make sure pupils go into the exam with a better understanding


C) let the pupils take their mate with a maths degree into the exam with them?
RasputinLives I agree with you on that point, but this is the equivalent of asking your 16 year old to take his maths exam while trying to set the record for speed cycling down the side of Snowdonia.
I don't think anyone has suggested on this thread that safety was the issue, just the complexity of the car. Maybe they should make all racing drivers become engineers as well ?
Changes should only be made in the interest of safety, not because the driver can't understand how to drive the car.
(independent of the events of this weekend)

Maybe, the radio clampdown should be slightly relaxed to allow the pitwall answer any yes/no questions asked by the driver? That would still prevent the excessive coaching the the radio ban was introduced to combat, as any coaching has to be initiated by the driver. It should also allow some hilarious radio exchanges for our entertainment.

Most importantly, it would allow communications which currently are not allowed but happen all the time. For example, Mercedes replying to Rosberg in Canada(?) "affermative the lights are real", that was not on the list of approved communications.
If there are combinations of settings which should not be used then fix the software.
Is that allowed? Or would it be an illegal driving aid?

(What would otherwise stop the team from fixing the software to only allow the "correct" setting for that situation?)
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