Had that happened in F1 the Internet would have imploded. August 2nd was a rainy day at Austria’s Red Bull Ring and DTM was having a race. Championship leader and Mercedes energizer bunny F1 test driver Pascal Wehrlein was having a bad day with several off-track excursions having relegated him to 8th on the track with three laps to go. He was stuck behind two-time champion Timo Scheider and Mercedes Colleague Robert Wickens of Canada.
Mercedes played one of the oldest tricks in the book. Wickens braked early into a corner, blocked Scheider in his Audi and Wehrlein dived inside and overtook both of them. The resulting sixth position was enough to retain the championship lead. Unlike F1, the broadcaster, German channel ARD, has access to live pit radio and immediately switched to Scheider’s Audi. Halfway down the back straight the voice of Audi motorsports chief Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich, the counterpart to Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, comes on and calmly instructs Scheider “Timo, schieb ihn raus” (Timo, push him off).
The rest, as they say, is history. Scheider clattered into the back of Wickens, who then helplessly sailed into back of Wehrlein. Both Mercedes spun into the gravel trap. The Scandal was an instant affair. The stewards looked at the telemetry data, saw that Scheider braked too late and even released the brakes in order to hit the Merc and disqualified him immediately. A trial before the German sports court is pending against Audi’s director of motorsport for his order to deliberately wreck an opponent.
Now, that’s not what F1 should learn from – we already have Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado – but the fact that German TV viewers could watch and listen to it live, is something that F1 urgently needs to look into. We don’t need censored team radio, broadcast minutes after the fact. Just give the broadcaster live access as they do in DTM. Let him choose which channel he tunes into and the broadcasts will become a whole lot more interesting.