F1: Whiting eases rules on radio ban

'In the interest of fairness we felt, with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better to introduce it in two stages, which is what we've done,' said Whiting.

As expected, Thursday’s meeting of the F1 sporting regulations group has led to an easing of the restrictions given by the FIA to the teams earlier this week.

The meeting, which covered other future rules issues as well, gave the 11 team managers a chance to air their views to race director Charlie Whiting.

It was agreed that the restrictions on technical conversation-related routine running of the cars would be difficult to implement at such short notice, so the focus has moved to any chat which directly relates to driver performance, such as advice on gears, lines, and braking points, and comparisons with other drivers.

That still addresses the main reason for the ban, which was to counter the widespread feeling that modern drivers get too much help.

The FIA’s Charlie Whiting has emphasised that the easing on radio restrictions was done in the interests of fairness, because some teams would be more affected than others by a short term change.

The main problem is that teams use one of two dashboards, one of which carries less information than the other. The teams affected can ‘upgrade’ for 2015.

“We believe a driver should drive the car alone and unaided,” said Whiting when explaining the restrictions. “He shouldn’t be told that he’s going a bit too deep into this corner, should take a tighter apex on that corner. It’s for him to decide, not for his team to tell him how he’s comparing to his teammate, for example, so that’s the basis of it.

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“It was becoming apparent that more or more was being done for the drivers, and quite simply that is at odds with article 20.1 of the regulations. We felt that this should extend to both car performance and driver performance related parameters, but when one looks into it in more detail it became quite clear that some teams will be at a disadvantage compared to the others, not just in their know how or ability to react in the short term, but also with hardware choices that were made a year ago, for example.

“I think you are familiar with the two types of dashboard that are available to the teams, one would simply show a great deal more than the other. In the interest of fairness we felt, with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better to introduce it in two stages, which is what we’ve done.

“The plan is to make it more far-reaching, to take in the technical elements of it as well, the technical assistance that drivers are getting about the performance of the car as well. It will inevitably be more complex, but I think that is how the sport is. I think it is going to be very hard to make it simpler, unless one was to remove radios from the car. Very simple. But I think that might not be very well received.”

Whiting said that eight people are listening to radio when the cars are running. Regarding possible penalties he said: “It’s not for me to say what the penalty will be, because it’s a matter for the stewards of course.

“What I would do is report to the stewards a possible contravention of Article 20.1, who would then decide what the penalty would be. I think it would have to be a sporting penalty, as opposed to a monetary one. If it happened it might be, I emphasize might be, a five-second time penalty for example, if it happened in practice it might be a grid position or something like that.”