Christian Horner and Alain Prost have welcomed the FIA’s immediate clampdown on radio communications within formula one.
Responding to criticism from fans, F1 race director Charlie Whiting on Thursday circulated a directive to teams clarifying the existing rule about drivers needing to “drive the car alone and unaided”.
It means that from Singapore and beyond, all radio messages from the pitwall to the drivers relating to “performance” are now strictly banned.
Whiting said the FIA “intends to rigorously enforce this regulation with immediate effect”.
The move is a reaction to claims fans are being turned off the sport amid the impression the ‘heroes’ – arguably the world’s best drivers – are being told how to drive the complex cars in 2014 by engineers.
“Therefore no radio conversation from pit to driver may include any information that is related to the performance of the car or driver,” said Whiting.
He added that “general” radio calls about race strategy and safety are excluded from the ban.
Whiting told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport that the penalties applied will be “at the discretion of the stewards”, but will probably be of a sporting nature rather than fines.
The ban will also end the perception that drivers are being told by their teams during races to save fuel, brakes and tyres.
“That (kind of instruction) would violate the rule,” Whiting clarified.
“The driver can see the fuel consumption on the steering wheel, just as you do in your normal car.”
As for advice about engine settings, fuel mixtures and energy-recovery charging, Whiting insisted: “Absolutely not (allowed). This is clearly contrary to Article 20.1.”
But he said the issuing of team orders and advice about traffic is “okay”.
Red Bull team boss Horner told the Times he fully backs the FIA’s new stance.
“The driver should be on his own when he gets into the cockpit. They all need to be told about pitstops and safety and so on, but none of this picking up advice on where other people are a tenth of a second faster and what gear to choose. That is nonsense.
“It is time for the drivers to drive,” he insisted.
Also supportive is Alain Prost, the F1 legend and quadruple world champion.
“People can think formula one has become something too assisted, easy and controlled by somebody else than the driver,” he said.
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