The big news to come out of F1 after Monza is that a clampdown on pit radio to drivers will come into effect, meaning drivers must “drive the car alone and unaided”. Ultimately, it’ll mean the death of radio messages such as “switch engine to system 1A” and “press the magic button”, but what else is banned from being transmitted to drivers?

Photo: Infiniti Red Bull Racing Media
Photo: Infiniti Red Bull Racing Media

The following information can be relayed to 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 a 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.
– Puncture warning.
– 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.
– Indication of a potential problem with a competitor’s car during a race.
– Information concerning a competitors likely race strategy.
– Yellow flags, blue flags, Safety Car deployment or other cautions.

But, the following is now banned;

– Sector time detail of a competitor and where a competitor is faster or slower.
– Adjustment of power unit settings.
– Adjustment of power unit setting to de-rate the systems.
– Adjustment of gearbox settings.
– Learning of gears of the gearbox, allowing the ECU to record the position of the gears relative to each other for the seamless shift system (will only be enforced from the Japanese GP onwards).
– Balancing the state-of-charge of batteries, or adjusting for performance.
– Information on fuel flow settings (except if requested to do so by race control).
– Information on level of fuel saving needed.
– Information on tyre pressures or temperatures (will only be enforced from the Japanese GP onwards).
– Information on differential settings.
– Start maps related to clutch position, for race start and pit stops.
– Information on clutch maps or settings, e.g. bite point.
– Burn-outs prior to race starts.
– Information on brake balance or brake-by-wire settings.
– Warning on brake wear or temperatures (will only be enforced from the Japanese GP onwards).
– Selection of driver default settings (other than in the case of a clearly identified problem with the car).
– Answering a direct question from a driver, e.g. “Am I using the right torque map”?
– Any message that appears to be coded.

But what does this actually mean?

Well, as well as the loss of coded messages, it will also mean teams will have to implement new systems in place. Drivers will need to know all the workings of their car from start to finish, as any issues cannot be sorted by an engineer running them through reset instructions via radio.

Think teams will get around it with pit boards? Think again. The same rules for radio apply to them, so drivers will be well and truly on their own during the races.

Never fear. At least we’ll still have Kimi Raikkonen!