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Drivers urge radio comms ban rethink

NEWS STORY
20/06/2016

Following issues during the Grand Prix of Europe, drivers have called for a re-think on the ban on radio communications.

The ban was introduced following negative reaction from fans when it appeared that engineers were having more input to the driving of the car than the superstar in the hot seat.

Along with the "conserve fuel" and "protect your tyres" calls, which many believed presented a negative image for the so-called pinnacle of motor sport, others were unhappy at drivers being advised on strategy and tactics, sometimes on a lap by lap, corner by corner basis.

However, as witnessed yesterday, the ban, which allows a number of exceptions mostly related to safety, is impacting performance, and in certain cases, such as a driver spending more time looking at the numerous warning lights on his dashboard than what is happening around him, could lead to accidents.

"D-rates everywhere, surely this isn't helping," called out Hamilton as he suffered an engine mode error. "Is there no solution?"

Told the team was working on it, Hamilton continued: "You guys need to pick up the pace."

"The problem appears to be with the current mode that you are in," Hamilton's engineer Pete Bonnington advised the Briton.

"I don't know what you mean," said the world champion. "I don't know what's wrong. This is ridiculous guys. I don't know, I'm looking at my fricking dash every five seconds trying to find the switch in the wrong position."

"It's nothing you're doing wrong," he was told, "just a setting that's incorrect."

"I might not finish the race," warned Hamilton, "I'm going to try and change everything."

Told that his team didn't advise such a move, Hamilton than asked: "Can I make suggestions and you tell me if that's okay?"

"No, that's not allowed," came unhelpful response.

In time, the issue resolved itself, whilst race-winner Nico Rosberg, no doubt to add to his teammate's frustration, revealed that he suffered a similar issue but was able to resolve it himself.

Elsewhere, Kimi Raikkonen, under pressure from Sergio Perez and already frustrated by a time penalty for a pitlane infringement, called on his engineers for advice on an ERS issue and told such aid was not permitted he asked for a simple yes or no, only to be told it was not allowed.

Speaking after the race, Fernando Alonso appeared to sum up the current situation.

"From the beginning this rule was not making much sense," said the Spaniard. "They give us a spaceship to drive, with the technology we have, and now we have no information available. Sometimes it's difficult to know what is happening with the car, and what solution to do. Maybe in the future we can address this."

"Dangerous," was Hamilton's response when asked about how he felt whilst trying to resolve his issue. "I was just looking at my steering wheel for a long portion of the lap. All the way down the straight l was just looking at my wheel."

"I didn't know what the problem was so l didn't know if l had done something to make it not work," he added. "All they could tell me is that there was a switch error of some sort. I was looking at every single switch thinking 'am l being an idiot here? Have l done something wrong?' And l hadn't. I was looking through all these switch positions and there was nothing that looked irregular.

"The radio ban was supposed to ban driver aids but this was a technical issue," said the world champion, a comment with which his team boss agreed.

"I think we need to look at the rules. This is not me complaining, it is the same for everyone, but we can do two things: either make the cars less complicated, which l don't think we should do, or adjust the rules so that we can communicate with the drivers more when they have a problem."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by The stogie, 23/06/2016 23:22

"The FIA has successfully turned F1 and LeMans into glorified club racing with their head-scratching nit-picking rules. And Todt wants MORE power? Wow, scary."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Burton, 21/06/2016 17:15

"But was it really a technical issue or it just revealed itself to be, after a few laps, a less competitive engine mode? Why should the team be able to tell the driver instead of him figuring out if the car is in a less than ideal set-up?"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by stackvideo, 21/06/2016 5:28

"Some of these drivers earn more in one year than Joe Average could earn in 3 to 4 life times. Just get on with it"

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4. Posted by mittagongcalling, 21/06/2016 0:32

"Now then Lewis, about those sunglasses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by C5, 20/06/2016 17:58

"If forgot:

- Radio comms button
- Drinking water pump button
- DRS button
- Menu buttons to switch enable/disable various systems (i.e "limp home" modes)
"

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6. Posted by C5, 20/06/2016 17:52

"@ryanhellyer

I'm fundamentally with you, but you need more than those. I can think of:
- Brake bias/balance
- Throttle response
- Limited slip diff settings
- Pit lane limiter
- Reverse selector
- Selector of pre-programmed modes for various situations, such as drizzle, rain, safety car, overtaking, etc.
- Selectors for display readout/mode, such as lap and section times, intervals, warning "lights", engine systems readouts (like temperatures and pressures), tyre pressures and temperature, detail status of various systems, etc.

I.e. like any decent sports/supercar these days (except they have configurable traction control and active handling systems as well).
"

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7. Posted by testa rossa, 20/06/2016 17:11

"so the manufacturers !!!!! want roadcar relevant technology in F1 cars and then make a steering wheel with all those adjustment buttons .. can you imagine a ladydriver in a roadcar adjusting buttons to get a car running properly.
Is like starting historic motorcycles , pump petrol, adjust ignition and choke.
Is pathetic in 2016."

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8. Posted by Tom2681, 20/06/2016 16:39

"Maybe (just maybe), Hamilton should learn to use his steering wheel?
Rosberg figured it out just fine. Surely it's not rocket science."

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9. Posted by Tweek, 20/06/2016 15:50

"That rule was made so the drivers would be in complete control of the car..... They are paid gazillions of dollars to know what's going on in their car. I found it funny that Hamilton couldn't figure out which switch HE HAD in the wrong position. No safety issue here.... Just a driver doing what he's paid to do for better or worse ! Mercedes should change the names of their steering wheel faults so they are more easily identifiable by a guy doing 200 mph. "

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10. Posted by TokyoAussie, 20/06/2016 14:25

"Teams don't need radio messages. They could just as easily post a message on the driver's steering wheel. It's a wonder to me that more of the stuff that Hamilton had to deal with isn't automated.

I do think there is a fundamental difference between telling a driver to switch to mode xyz and telling him he is pressing both the accelerator and brake pedals simultaneously in a corner. One is mechanical, the other is a teaching driving style. In any case, there are always going to be ways to get around simple comms rules."

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11. Posted by Speedbump, 20/06/2016 14:05

"Bring back the days of pure racing. The only buttons I want to see in the cockpit are a starter button, and Jenson Button."

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12. Posted by ryanhellyer, 20/06/2016 10:16

"Why not just mandate that steering wheels are only allowed a few basic switches? I can't see how all these buttons benefit the racing in any way. It just looks like a distraction to me.

This seems sufficient to me:
Steer wheel.
Gear levers.
Clutch.
Fuel mix.
Radio.
On/off switch.
Rev counter lights."

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13. Posted by -ape-, 20/06/2016 8:57

"All those switches is a safety problem , drivers are distracted like texting on the road.
FIA should allow only 3 or 4 .
Absurd these buttons in a race car."

Rating: Positive (9)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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