FIA to “bring back the driver in full control of the car”


During the weekend of the British GP 2015, the FIA released a statement outlining imminent changes agreed by the F1 strategy group. These will start at the Belgium GP after the summer break.

One of the most significant items appeared to be further restrictions on “driver aids and coaching”. The FIA concluded,These measures will bring back the driver in full control of the car, enhancing races excitement and unpredictability”.

The reality of this intention has now been revealed by another technical directive issued by Charlie Whiting and the reality is the clamp down is rather limited.

Communication and setting changes regarding the clutch are now banned for drivers on the way to the grid and during the formation lap. The cars have an automatic clutch bite point finder and this must now be disabled. During the race a manual clutch bite point adjuster will be allowed

Again the communication restrictions are restricted to pre-grid reconnaissance laps and the formation lap. Conversations are now limited to matters of safety, including notifications of ‘critical’ problems with the car, punctures, problems evident with a competitor car.

The governing body has also outlined its clampdown on radio communications with the driver during reconnaissance or formation laps.

Marshalling information and notification of debris or a slippery track are also allowed.

Should teams exceed these limits on information exchanges they will breach article 20.1 of the sporting regulations and would result in a penalty.

These measures fall some way short of the expected, “bring back the in full control of the car” – as the FIA promised. However, there is the opportunity for drivers to again mess up the race starts.

This move is interesting in that safety is being compromised – whether rightly or wrongly – as we could see a return to high speed collisions at the start or a race, where an unsighted driver towards the back of the grid piles into the rear of a car that has stalled 100 metres ahead on the starting grid.

9 responses to “FIA to “bring back the driver in full control of the car”

  1. I will be listening with intent at the start,waiting for the call from the drivers…’I think I have a punture on my setting 12..followed by the now is the weather in the pit straight is the cold biting at the right point? Following the shambles of the merc dummy pit stop I don’t see Charlie policing this well. If radio communication is available then there is always some clever way of skirting the regs, to be safe all radio traffic would need to be scrapped and pit boards used instead. I am torn on this issues as its a team sport so why not use all the tools but then I think again and yell that these drivers are meant to be the best so let them show their worth,maybe this will add failure into the mix again. Who can forget our Nigel switching off his Williams during the last lap and I know he said it was a real failure……yeah..sure thing Mr M. 😉

    • Oh dear… where is the edit button ? Message should have read:

      No doubt there will be drivers and race engineers formulating their own versions of Morse code.
      . .- … -.–

    • To the obvious way to do it is to restrict data flow from the car during the race, then there would be no question regarding coded messages. The data would simply be stored on board for post race download.
      Race engineers don’t need to know where and when a driver is braking or shifting. Nor do they normally need to have access to brake and tyre temps. If something goes into a warning or danger area then that should be enough.
      Implement a standard car to pit transmitter with a race mode.

  2. ” the communication restrictions are restricted to pre-grid reconnaissance laps and the formation lap.”
    Isn’t that because restrictions on coaching during the race itself, i.e. after the red-lights go off, are already covered by previous FIA directives ?

    • Suddenly F1 is being followed by Luddites. They’ll be attempting to get manual gearboxs back in the cars next, followed by wooden steering wheels. Why stop there, how about wire strung wheels, fitted with a huge knock on nut?
      Don’t these fools realise they’re being played by Bernie?

    • No, I completely agree. I don’t think we’ll actually see any more ‘exciting’ racing by banning this. There’s much bigger issues that need tackling.

  3. good. can’t wait! as for stalled cars. a marshal operated yellow light system installed below the red lights would be simple and cheap. if a stalled car on the right side of the grid stalls, then the right yellow light comes on. same thing for left. heck, it can even be incorporated into the marshal system on the steering wheel.

  4. It’ll be interesting to see if there is any kind of difference in the starts between team mates from Belgium onwards. I suspect very little will change though.

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