RADIO BAN POSTPONED: Formula 1 teams will not be able to rely messages regarding drivers' performance but the ban on messages relating the car performance will only be enforced in 2015. Image: AFP/ Luca Bruno.
SINGAPORE - Formula 1 has back-tracked on a planned clampdown on radio and pitboard messages for reasons of fairness but remains determined to end driver 'coaching' during races, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Friday (September 19).
Teams will be allowed to send messages relating to car performance during the 2014 Singapore GP but from 2015 they will follow those concerning driver performance onto the banned list.
After a meeting at the 2014 Italian GP, the FIA opted to ban messages on both topics but decided after speaking with team managers in Singapore that more time was required.
TEAMS AT A 'DISADVANTAGE'
FIA race director Charlie Whiting told reporters at the Marina Bay Street Circuit: "When one looks into it in more detail it became quite clear that some teams would be at a serious disadvantage compared to others.
"Not just in their new know-how or their ability to react in the short term but also in hardware choices that were made a year ago.
"The two types of dashboards that are available to the teams, one will simply show a great deal more than the other. So in the interest of fairness we felt with the benefit of hindsight it would be better to introduce it in two stages and that is what we have done."
Asked why the FIA had not simply waited for the final six races of the 2014 campaign to pass before implementing the new rules, Whiting said the organisation couldn't stand by if rules were clearly being broken.
Whiting said: "It was becoming apparent that more and more was being done for the drivers and quite simply that is at odds with article 20.1 of the regulations.
"If you see or hear something that you are uncomfortable with, with regards to conforming to the rules, you have to do something about it and that's our job."
Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone told reporters he had been behind the original decision to ban messages and he wanted less talk on the radio during races.
He also suggested more restrictions should be introduced in future and Whiting said it was inevitable the rules on messages would become far more comprehensive.
Whiting said: "The plan is to make it more far reaching to take in the technical elements of it as well. The technical assistance that the driver is getting on the performance of the car as well.
"It will inevitably become more complex but unfortunately that is how the sport is. It is going to be hard to make it simpler unless I was to remove radios from the car but I don't think that will be very well received."
TEAMS SPEAK ON RADIO BAN
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost, whose team are seventh in the Constructor standings with Jean-Eric Vergne and rookie Russian Daniil Kvyat in their line-up, slammed the move.
Tost said: "The changes are absolutely not necessary. For us of course it's a big disadvantage because the more inexperienced the driver is, there's more information you have to give him."
Force India owner Vijay Mallya disputed the importance of radio messages: "This is not PlayStatio. Whatever you may say about the pit wall, the amount of influence it actually has on the driver and the excitement of the race and the race result is something that is highly debatable."
Whiting said the first session of Friday practice in Singapore had been incident free and that "around eight" people were currently monitoring the radio traffic of the 11 teams on the grid.
He acknowledged, though, that coded messages would be difficult to police but added that the teams were all listening to each other and was confident any breaches would not go unnoticed.
Penalties, determined by race stewards, are likely to be sporting rather than monetary.
"If it (a banned message) happened in a race it might be a five second time penalty for example, if it happened in practice it might be a grid position or something like that," he said.
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Singapore GP this weekend.