Shut Up And Drive – FIA Move To Increase Driver Input With Ban On Aided Team Radio

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Effective from this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, drivers will not be able to call on much of the help from their team that they have enjoyed in the recent past. Questions over the radio to his team from a driver when on the racetrack during a session such as where the driver is losing team to a team-mate or rival and how to solve an issue the car is having will not be allowed.

F1 race director Charlie Whiting has sent out a letter to all F1 teams, stating the change.

“In order to ensure that the requirements of Article 20.1 of the F1 sporting regulations are respected at all times, the FIA intends to rigorously enforce this regulation with immediate effect.

“Therefore, no radio conversation from pit to driver may include any information that is related to the performance of the car or driver.”

“FIA should also remind you that data transmission from pit to car is specifically prohibited by Article 8.5.2 of the F1 technical regulations.”

The clampdown is an attempt from the FIA to force the drivers into using their skills and quick mental abilities to solve an issue, rather than asking their race engineer on how to do so. It is a sign of harking back to the 1980s, when drivers needed to be quick in their driving and in their thinking, as they were not able to call upon their team through the in-car radio that drivers can so easily use now.

It has been suggested that teams will try to get around the ban by using code words, but the FIA have stated that this will not be allowed. It is a tricky situation, as any attempt to get past the ban will be looked at and what may be innocent could be seen by others as guilty. The very nature of competition drives people to go beyond the limit and as someone is told not to do something, they will go as far as they can to the limit without going over it.

A driver can still use certain lines of communication with their team. They can still speak about anything regarding pitstops, traffic problems, team orders and any dangerous incidents happening. It is mostly where driver performance is concerned where the changes will be seen. Drivers will now have to discover themselves where on the circuit they are slower than a team-mate, how to get the best start possible from the grid, how to manage their tyres. If it is something a driver can do themselves within reason, they will be expected to do so.

The change is sure to add extra excitement to a season which has one team and its two drivers solely in the chase for the championship title. The fourteenth round of the 2014 Formula One World Championship at Singapore this weekend will be one with less ears and more eyes as the drivers are given yet another test to pass.

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