Todt says ‘meh’ to calls for radio ban tweak

The radio ban that was instituted last year and expanded upon this season is now under fire after Lewis Hamilton struggled to get the correct setting on his car during the European Grand Prix in Baku last weekend. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen had an issue that he was seeking clarification on and due to the ban, the team could not help.

While the press immediately jumped on the radio ban as a draconian piece of regulatory oversight and the trend toward a hyper-democracy where the immediate and visceral will of the outraged turns almost instantaneously toward the creation or abolishing of rules, the FIA have turned a bit of a deaf ear to the issue according to an article over at AUTOSPORT.

When asked (most likely pounced upon) by the press about this much-called-for but now disdained radio ban, FIA president Jean Todt said:

“We’ve always believed that we had to remove the so-called driver aids because it’s fine, we can help drivers, we can do it on the road.

“But this was requested unanimously, it was asked to reduce all aids, all assistance given to drivers for the race and this is part of this approach.”

On our European GP review podcast, we suggest that it isn’t the radio ban that is the issue, it’s the amount of choices and settings that teams have installed on their cars that is creating the issue. Want to stop the need for silly radio conversations about which menu to select, which button to press and which drive mode to engage? Simply remove those option or build a better GUI or electronic package. Don’t use a Blackberry or Palm Treo when you should be using an iPhone.

The teams have all of these complex settings because it’s part of their performance advantage with the hybrid power units and the software technology is high but clearly with a radio ban, you may be offering too many complexities on the wheel. Is it too complex? Todt says:

“We can say maybe that the cars are too complicated but we have just concluded a 24-hour race [at Le Mans, which Todt attended] with cars that are more and more complicated.

“So it’s up to the teams and the pilots to work so that there is a chance to offer the best possible performance.”

Do we get barbarian over the response because Lewis had an issue? I say no, we view this as an established and called-for radio ban but ultimately, why not put the best setting on the car you can and let the driver manage the wheel spin, clutch bite point, harvesting etc? If you don’t do that, then look at this as a real innovation block in F1 where code writers and engineers need to create much better interfaces and ways that drivers can interact with their machine.

Why not put Siri in the system and then the driver can just say what he wants? On second thought, maybe that’s not a good idea for Kimi.