Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 2011

Team radio is F1’s wasted asset

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 2011
Come in, Britney. Britney, do you read me?

Team radio has provided some of the most illuminating and entertaining moments in recent years in F1.

Despite that we still hear very little of it during races – less than three minutes on average in each race this year.

Here’s how team radio has been used in F1 this year and how it should change in 2012.

How many messages?

The FOM live F1 video feed is global, so television viewers in all regions hear the same team radio excerpts.

As you’d expect, more is heard from the more successful teams such as Red Bull and McLaren. At the other end of the scale, we’re yet to hear a message from Virgin or HRT during a race so far this year:

Driver Messages Duration
Lewis Hamilton 69 7’18
Sebastian Vettel 53 7’49
Jenson Button 49 5’33
Mark Webber 32 2’56
Fernando Alonso 30 3’16
Felipe Massa 28 2’54
Nico Rosberg 10 0’54
Michael Schumacher 7 0’45
Nick Heidfeld 4 0’22
Vitaly Petrov 4 0’12
Paul di Resta 3 0’22
Jaime Alguersuari 2 0’13
Heikki Kovalainen 1 0’12
Rubens Barrichello 1 0’06
Sergio Perez 1 0’05
Team Messages Duration
McLaren 118 12’51
Red Bull 85 10’45
Ferrari 58 6’10
Mercedes 17 1’39
Renault 8 0’34
Force India 3 0’22
Toro Rosso 2 0’13
Lotus 1 0’12
Williams 1 0’06
Sauber 1 0’05

The first thing that stands out is just how little audio is played. We’ve had around 18 hours of racing so far this year accompanied by just under 33 minutes of radio chatter – less than three minutes per race.

Anyone who’s watched an IndyCar or NASCAR race will know radio broadcasts play a much bigger part of the coverage. They also tend to be in real-time.

The relatively small number of broadcasts from Ferrari is also puzzling. However the sole message broadcast in a language other than English this year may give a clue as to why that is.

It was a message concerning strategy sent to Alonso during the Turkish Grand Prix. Are Ferrari sending their most sensitive messages in Italian to reduce the chance of them being broadcast and overheard by their rivals?

When were they played?

Between 17 and 40 different messages were played from each race, either in the live broadcast or in the post-race video edit posted on FOM’s website.

The fewest came at Monaco, where radio transmissions are disrupted by the close proximity of the buildings. This graph shows how many different messages were heard at each race:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv

Australia Malaysia China Turkey Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
Lewis Hamilton 3 5 5 4 9 6 1 7 10 9 10
Sebastian Vettel 3 9 4 2 10 4 10 2 1 5 3
Jenson Button 2 4 5 1 6 3 15 3 2 1 7
Mark Webber 2 3 4 1 1 2 2 5 5 4 3
Fernando Alonso 2 5 0 4 3 1 2 3 2 5 3
Felipe Massa 3 0 2 3 2 0 6 2 3 3 4
Nico Rosberg 0 0 3 5 0 0 1 0 1 0 0
Michael Schumacher 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 2
Nick Heidfeld 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0
Vitaly Petrov 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
Paul di Resta 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0
Jaime Alguersuari 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Heikki Kovalainen 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Rubens Barrichello 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sergio Perez 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

What was said?

The messages that were heard were classified by different categories.

Of the 295 messages counted from the first 11 races, 120 were relating to strategy. This is potentially a controversial area, as if a team gets wind of a rival’s strategy via a radio broadcast they could gain an advantage. This is believed to have happened during one of McLaren’s pit stops at Silverstone.

The other main topics on the radios are instructions to speed up or slow down for tactical or technical reasons, and discussions of problems on the car.

This graph shows what messages were played at each race:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv

Australia Malaysia China Turkey Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
Weather 0 4 0 0 0 0 17 0 0 0 7
Strategy 9 6 6 11 16 7 12 8 14 12 19
Celebration 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 2 3 3 2
“Speed up” 3 4 7 3 7 1 4 7 10 6 3
“Slow down” 1 5 3 3 4 1 0 6 3 4 5
Penalty 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Team order 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Technical 5 5 6 0 0 2 8 3 2 6 4

When the messages were broadcast

Last year there were a few notable examples of significant radio messages that were not played during a live broadcast appearing in FOM’s post-race video edit.

These included McLaren telling Lewis Hamilton that Jenson Button wouldn?t pass him during the Turkish Grand Prix – shortly before he did – and Fernando Alonso urging Ferrari to use team orders during the German Grand Prix.

We continue to hear more previously unheard radio messages in FOM’s race highlights videos:

When F1 radio messages were broadcast
When F1 radio messages were broadcast (click to enlarge)

More from the radios, please!

Team radio adds a badly-needed human dimension to F1 coverage. It gives a fascinating glimpse not only into the teams’ tactics in each race but also the demanding world an F1 driver inhabits between the red lights going out and the chequered flag waving.

FOM has access to all the teams radio broadcasts but at the moment they are being under-used with less than three minutes of radio broadcasts being heard on average during each race. It’s clear from services such as McLaren’s Pitwall this is a tiny fraction of the total messages sent between teams and drivers.

The focus on the front runners is understandable, but excessive. Over 70% of messages played live during races were from Red Bull or McLaren.

The delay in broadcasting messages is also frustrating. Many interesting clips are not heard until FOM release their video review of each race, often a week or more after it’s happened.

But even those that are played in races tend to be delayed out of a fear of inadvertently broadcasting swearing.

Next year, according to the FIA, team radio broadcasts will be “made available to broadcasters”. The ideal system would be complete, live, uncensored feeds of all team radios available online for fans to listen to and follow the progress of their favourite drivers or teams in real-time.

Sincere thanks to F1 Fanatics Paul Adamaszek, Vikas Singh, Vivek Manghnani, Oana Popoiu, Bastiaan Bunnik, ‘Mr T.’, Nilesh Gorsia, Laura Newman, Nikolas Gouloumis and James Scantlebury for their assistance in gathering the data for this article.

Notes on the analysis

Data includes all messages played during races in 2011, excluding any broadcast during race suspensions.

2011 F1 season


Browse all 2011 F1 season articles

Image ?? Mercedes

127 comments on “Team radio is F1’s wasted asset”

  1. I imagine Ted Kravitz may disagree with you on this one, Keith.

    1. I can’t think of a good reason why he or anyone else would, but do enlighten me!

      1. Apart from the teams. Obviously it wouldn’t suit them.

      2. It’s just that I’ve noticed that virtually every time 5Live/MB and DC pass to him, he’s interrupted by team radio!

        1. Haha so true.

        2. “Oh, team radio…” I can hear him in my head just thinking about it.

          Besides that, the team radio message is always about something totaly different than what Ted is talking about.

      3. Let’s not get greedy. There are enough broadcasts already, although I agree that broadcasting them a lap after they’ve been said is a little silly.

        I can’t remember the race but broadcasting when the McLaren would pit was very helpful for the other top teams – perhaps these kinds of broadcasts should actually be reduced. The ones about how wet the track is and things like that are more insightful and fair to all.

        It reminds me of the fuel weights – everyone was wax-lyrical when we were told they would be published, but all it did was make the races more boring because we all knew when everyone would pit.

        1. Just had to say “stop talking to me while I’m typing” to my wife ;)

        2. yeah releasing the fuel weights was an odd and total pointless idea. and they released it at like 6pm in the evening? like who cares at that time? it would of worked better if they released it as cars went on the warm up lap or something.

          and the most stupid thing about it was the drivers would not say what fuel they had after qualy? and i think eventually someone like button or lewis eventually said ‘why am not say you are going to find out 3 hrs anyway’

        3. In their defense a lap after is still only going to be about one and a half minutes…

          Quite a tight time frame.

      4. With any of the radio messages we hear now, I can only ever understand one half of the chatter, and that is from the guy in the pits, so I for one would not be a huge fan of more radio broadcasts. Everything driver’s response is indistinguishable.

  2. Stephen Hopkinson
    17th August 2011, 9:40

    Apparently, teams prevent sensitive messages from being broadcast by peppering them with profanity. Can’t wait for sweargate!

    1. Profanity didn’t stop a message from Barrichello’s engineer in Valencia 2009 begin broadcast :D

      “Okay, Hamilton’s ****** up his stop!” :D

    2. I actually love that, simple and ingenious. I think this calls for a “late night” or post watershed “uncut” F1 broadcast!

      1. the best one was montoya at spa “Raikkonen is a ******* idiot!!”

        I think that was in qualifying though

      2. (Hell, Australia could have that almost every race…) A midnight start is quite early by our standards.

  3. Perhaps Ferrari swear a lot when they pass on messages – that’s got to be a sure fire way to stop anything being broadcast “Get a ******* move on you little ****!!!”

    1. They are an Italian team, and so the only time they purposefully speak English is when they want it to be broadcast.

      1. I was under the impression (from somewhere) that English was *mandated* for radio broadcasts… maybe I’m wrong

        1. I heard so too, I heard that although Ferrari is an Italian team, they speak (almost) always enlgish in the team.

          1. After Jean Todt left they officialy changed their team language back to italian. But obviously they speak english about technical things and with people from different countries.

          2. Accidental Mick
            18th August 2011, 13:41

            Certainly when I was studying for my Yachtmasters ticket and had to attend a radio course, I was told that, under international law, ALL radio coms had to be conducted in English. Perhaps that only applys at sea – anyone know?

          3. There is no such rule for road based communication. Pilots have to speak English though.

        2. I thought the same. I’m puzzled. Of course if they speak Italian the messages won’t be broadcast, but shouldn’t they get a reprimand/fine (although a fine would be eccessive)?

          1. Too bad English speaking countries fail to tech foreign languages to their pupils…

          2. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
            17th August 2011, 20:58

            @Jcost

            No, they do teach foreign languages, but these are predominately Spanish, French and Japanese (at least in NZ) and more to the point they are not a required part of the curriculum and so most students prefer to do subjects that they are interested in rather than learning a foreign language

      2. As in “Fernando is faster than you”?

        1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
          17th August 2011, 20:59

          Maybe Massa doesn’t speak italian?

          1. Felipe speaks fluent Italian but as his race engineer is English then it must make sense that at least 1 person speaks their mother tongue

  4. Totally agree on all points. This message “More team radio” has been around for many years, yet I wonder what does it take for FOM to make it true.

    I will accept the Italian from Ferrari or the German from Red Bull, or any other language, just broadcast the messages. Real-time – I don’t want to hear that Lewis has to slow down 5 laps after I see his times dropping 1 second per lap – I already know what’s happening.

    Perhaps someone could shed more light on the rules – frankly, an area where I’m lost – in terms of:
    – does the radio talk has to be in English
    – Do you have to send at least X public messages per race
    – What are you able to hide as a call, and so on.

    P.S. I would presume that teams with small count of messages simply have nothing to say.

    1. – Do you have to send at least X public messages per race

      The teams don’t control which messages are made public, FOM do.

      I would presume that teams with small count of messages simply have nothing to say.

      I doubt that – if nothing else, the likes of the HRT and Virgin drivers will get a lot of messages about being lapped. And they’re bound to be talking more about handling problems.

      Plus, we do hear from them sometimes in qualifying and other sessions (not analysed here).

      1. I don’t know why, but it’d be interesting to hear for once a message telling a drivers he will be lapped. It would be nice to hear what if any detail is involved about when and where they will be caught, and whether they’re instructed which line is optimum for them to avoid hindering the leaders.

        1. I agree. Particularly when you see the leaders bearing down on them – does Ricciardo get told, “Vettel’s coming up behind you and he’s got Hamilton right behind him”?

          1. I agree too, especially in a tense moment because there are times when we are shouting at the TV for guys to get out of the way. It would be a good addition to hear the message as it was happening too….not 5 minutes later when it’s irrelevant.

        2. Just imagine what Rob Smedley will have to tell Felipe Baby in such a case!

    2. I’d say half the problem is rather going through the sheer quantity of messages. They’d need a few people to do it at least.

      1. That might be part of it, but it could be helped if Broadcasters had access to them, and could look at what is said to explain what they are seeing.

      2. That’s just because they’re creating work for themselves by not broadcasting messages live.

        In IndyCar, for example, they play the radio chatter live during pit stops. Even if it doesn’t provide any particular information, it adds to the atmosphere. And when something unusual does happen, it adds to the excitement.

  5. I don’t actually like the introduction of team radio at all. I feel it has the ability to (slightly) rob us of interesting races. How many times have we seen a driver respond to another’s strategy simply because that strategy was broadcast over the television and the team was able to pass it on?

    1. Apart from that example at Silverstone I can’t think of any off the top of my head. But even if it were happening a lot I wouldn’t care. Strategies are usually pretty transparent.

      Team radio has given us loads of information and entertainment we wouldn’t have had before. There are far too many examples to list them all, but here’s a smattering:

      Top ten… Team radio moments

      Generally, the argument that less information should be provided to keep things a mystery doesn’t wash with me. I think the sport should be as open and clear as possible, so we can better appreciate the skill of those participating in it.

      1. Transparency is exactly what the teams are looking for as well.

        At the FOTA Fans Forum Martin Whitmarsh spoke in detail how Mclaren and Ferrari had spent millions creating encrypted radio systems so that each could not eavesdrop on the others radio/strategy conversations!

        However all of this was dropped when FOTA was started and since then the teams have allowed all radio transmissions to be available to FOM for use in broadcasting. It is CVC and FOM that we need to get on to about the lack of Radio Comm’s making it on to the F1 broadcasts.

        I think Keith is particularly correct about the smaller teams. I would love to hear whats going on at Team Lotus, Virgin and HRT if they are really struggling or if they feel they are right on the limit etc. Whilst at the FOTA Fans Forum, Graeme Lowdon described a perfect example with Timo Glock in Monaco, who pushed the VR02 well beyond it’s limit in qualifying. The team and the driver were ecstatic about there performance and several radio messages were exchanged to celebrate this…but we didn’t get any of them, and a great moment in F1 for one of the developing teams was lost.

      2. Keith, Virgin had their team radio message broadcast during on of the last Free Practices where Timo was expressing his frustration (which was later elaborated as a joke), the day before he had his contract renewed..

        1. I know… sorry I’m not sure what your point is?

    2. I don’t agree at all. Strange enough these little bits of information we do get often add a lot and help end stupid speculation.

      Why would we be getting over exited about say Hamilton reeling in Vettel, when we could have heard Vettel being told to just slow down and save the engine etc a few laps earlier.

      Strange enough the messages leave a pretty strong awareness about the race, so much so, that I was actually supprised about how little of them there actually were when looking for them in the broadcast.

    3. Strategies would be noticed on the fly regardless of team radio. The radio chatter is a bit delayed anyway so even though on the rare instance teams are notified of a strategical change through team radio, that change in strategy may have already been made (new tires). As Keith mentions, in IndyCar, the radio chatter really adds to the atmosphere, most of the commentators may talk over it but it increases viewer involvement and increases the awareness of that all important human aspect to racing.

  6. I was totally under the impression that all team radio was open to every team no matter what, and that FOM just selects tid bits to broadcast during the race. Wasn’t there a rule or change like that enacted this past year or two? Or did I misunderstand it?

  7. I like the swearing explanation regarding Ferrari’s radio transmission. :-)

    About the language issue: I remember hearing something about the FIA and FOM requiring team radio to be in English, and not in Italian (Ferrar, STR), French (Renault, although that’s effectively a British team) or Swahili for that matter. Is that true?

    1. That would be very unfair to those who dont speak native english. The qualify of the information sent to and from the garage would be very low compared to native english speaking teams.

      1. I doubt it, they all have pretty good command of the English language. They will likely be well versed in all technical jargon.

        As far as i’m aware all transmissions have to be in English but of course some do ‘slip through’.

  8. It was said at one of the recent races that the teams have been swearing in their team radio messages to ensure they are not broadcast. Mclaren i believe have been very vocal about how fed up they are with their pit strategy being broadcast for all to hear.

  9. Personally, I’m not that bothered about team radio. Most of the time it’s something we already knew anyway, and it only serves to give rival teams extra knowledge about what strategy they may or may not be doing.

    I like the mystery of not knowing what’s going on, the surprise of a driver pitting early, the suspense of waiting to see when a driver will eventually pit, and the estimations of pit reporters such as Ted Kravitz.

    When I hear something like “Ok Lewis, we’ve got 11 more laps to go on these tyres” it takes away some of the suspense from watching a race. I’d actually like to see less team radio during the race, but more available post race.

    1. But the fact its something we already know (or strongly suspect) is often due to the delay in playing them.

      I mean, i like to speculate a bit during the race, but I like knowing why things happen, if they have been told.

  10. In the Graph “What was said” the colours are wrong?

  11. I’d love to know what percentage of Lewis’s comments are negative.

    1. I can assure you, that in the Monaco race it was quite a bit of what was said by him!

  12. Thanks for the nice article, well done. I feel like it’s 12 days of Christmas instead of F1 summer break and Keith gives the readers each day a new present (a quiz or an interesting article).

    I think there is a simple solution to the swearing issue. Every driver who swears while talking to his team on the radio gets a drive-through penalty. I’m sure the rudeness would stop immediately.

  13. Sauber’s is probably so low because they are pit so rarely.

  14. What I find interesting when you compare what is shown in the edits and what is shown in during the race its really mostly completely different (my guess is, that the celebration messages are the only ones displayed in both at all the races).

    And during I had the feeling for edits the radio messages are used as commentary to make you get whats happening (as it shows you the whole race in a few minutes), telling us when people go pit, where they are etc.
    During the race it might be more focussed on colourfull comments and confirming to us what strategy teams are going to do after we/the commentators guessed it already.

  15. That’s an impressive load of data. Well done to everyone who helped compile it.

  16. Actually thinking about it, I would really like to try a broadcaster to do the commentary largely by radio messages.

  17. As long as the commentators can maintain their train of thought during the interruption of team radio. It seems to happen to Brundle and Coulthard alot that they forget to pick up what they were saying.
    And can the teams not sound so scripted and rehearsed after they’ve won. Unless race engineers actually talk in soundbites because they’re not the type for spontaneous whooping and hollerin’.

  18. Keith is quite right, team radio gives F1 a much needed human face and as far as I’m concerned FOM have missed a trick by broadcasting so little of it.

    F1 is a team sport and it is sad that the only members of the teams we know are the drivers and the team principals (on the whole). Team radio gives us a great insight into how the teams work, what they think and they help give personalities to the people mounted on the “prat perch”.

    Just think, would we all have soft spots of Rob Smedley, Rocky and Co if it wasn’t for team radio?!

  19. And if any driver reacts like Senna after Brazil ’91 (as heard in the movie) “Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhh I won the *flipping* race!” we need to hear now not 20 years later.

    1. Good point. That was one of the bits of the film that really took me by surprise. His reaction was so extreme. Hearing that as it happened would have been awesome.

      1. It’s not on the official ’91 F1 review video is it? (I’m guessing not!) The way these broadcasts disappear into the archives for decades has a whiff of Soviet State Secrets about it.
        And the Rally boys never seem to have any problem with ‘language’, just google “Irish rally co-driver” for some examples!

  20. Brilliant article! This is the sort of thing I visit F1 Fanatic for!

  21. Great article Keith.
    I understand that radio messages allow to better understand the race, and also add some goo emotion.
    But at the end I would prefer radio to be banned, expect for pitting.
    I would like drivers to manage the strategy, the car, the weather themselves, in my opinion this would be some of the skills a good driver should have.

  22. I think we could do with less Celebration radio ‘that’s what I’m talking about’ :-)

    Like to hear more general radio though

    1. I’ll second that; the Red Bull “celebrations” appear so scripted that I find myself cringing at most of them.

  23. It was a message concerning strategy sent to Alonso during the Turkish Grand Prix. Are Ferrari sending their most sensitive messages in Italian to reduce the chance of them being broadcast and overheard by their rivals?

    Oh, that is genius!

    1. Who’s betting McLaren and Red Bull have some Italian guy on stand-by back at race control ready to pounce on any Italian messages?

      One day his moment will come…

      1. Actually, there’s an Italian female PR (or something like that) in McLaren, sometimes Italian journalists on paddock interview her during races or just before. maybe she’s also their Mata Hari to understand what’s going on in the Scuderia.

        1. Wouldn’t surprise me.

  24. good old keith….yet another opportunity to have a pop at the ferraris! :>{

    1. Well its factual, they could of been sending most of the messages in ‘double dutch’, oh, wait that is how Mclaren send their strategy information.
      ;-)

    2. Eh? How did you come to that conclusion?

      If anyone is not doing Ferrari any favours it’s Ferrari. Germany last year?

    3. yet another opportunity to have a pop at the ferraris

      I’ve only explained what I think is happening. If you have an alternative theory please share it with the rest of us instead of whingeing.

      1. Just in case there is any misunderstanding I was firstly defending Keith and then making a joke about Mclaren strategies. :-)

  25. While most F1 sites are on a holiday, F1 Fanatic keeps giving us great stuff. Thanks for another great article!

  26. On one hand i love the radio messages, they make me feel even more part of the action and they are great. On the other hand I don’t think they are a great idea as they provide every1 little punters on which way decisions are going in terms of tactics, strategy etc. Put it this way I wouldnt want any1 listening into my conversations! Obviously Ferrari also feel this way as some broadcasts are in Italian. I probably think its ok to leave things as they are at the moment, with the most important conversations between driver and team kept private. I am not sure why the teams further down the grid dont release more radio tho..

    1. I am not sure why the teams further down the grid dont release more radio tho..

      It’s not a question of the teams ‘not releasing them’ – FOM are free to use whichever of the teams’ broadcasts they choose.

  27. I like to hear about x3 over the current output during the ‘standard’ coverage, I think it could easily become a bit too much. Too much of a good thing stops it being a good thing.
    I sometimes go onto the Mclaren site to see what being said, I think giving people the option of what they hear is a good idea, maybe a ‘red button’ channel where radio is the only commentary?

    1. Its interesting to see the amount of strategy messages played is goin up in the last couple of races.
      It might be this is a trend (or maybe its just FOM showing more McLaren messages as they are up front more often), I am curious to see if this upward trent continues.

  28. FOM use it to tell a story and it is their story. More means it would be more of the team story. Less would be less of FOM dictating what we hear. What we have is the worst possible. FOM production this year has degraded with the flunky live timing and the inability to put a consistent set of telemetry for the cars on the screen. Sometimes with KERS, sometimes without. Again, all according to what FOM want to tell us and when they want to tell us.

    1. I tend to think it is more likely incompetence than careful plotting.

    2. Is there anything with regards to F1 broadcasts that’s NOT a wasted asset?

      Race broadcast directors do not understand races: who couldn’t give them 5-10 rules of thumbs what not to f… up during races.

      They repeat starts not when there’s a lull, oh no, they do it during the most intense first 2-3 laps (from 5 different cameras, which would be great otherwise, but you get to miss at least half a minute of real-time action here).

      They cut to an irrelevant pit stop or a retiring also-run, which would be fine for 3-5 seconds; instead, they linger for 15-20.

      They switch from a chase exactly when an overtaking attempt begins.

      They ignore 5-cars-within-two-seconds midfield situations for laps and laps before it finally dawns upon them those might be more interesting than a comfortably spaced out leading pack monotonously circling the track.

      Quite a lot of radio transmissions are pathetically uninteresting: “you must push”, “he is slower, overtake him”, “absolutely fantastic, well done, great job”…

      How on earth is this a multi-billion dollar show, yet the broadcasts directed by imbeciles not having a clue, and not held to any standards?

      Loads of data available; yet only a minuscule amount presented. Do we see any meaningful data apart from the obligatory race order with time differences or number of pit stops?

      Whenever I read post-race analyses, I realize there was so much more going on. Does any of that come across during a race? No, none. (At least in terms of what’s shown on the TV-screen; competent commentators could make a difference, but not every country is lucky to have BBC-quality commentators…)

      Why isn’t there a permanent team of race analysts employed by Formula 1 to produce talking points that can be put on the screen during all parts of the race?

      That would add a depth to the action (or compensate for the occasional lack of it).

  29. I would suggest the opposite. remove team radios altogether. Make the driver solely responsible for strategy and tyre management. Of course there needs to be some options for emergencies, perhaps some dash lights or similar, but I think the racing could only get better if drivers were on their own.

    1. They do have lights on the steering wheel for when the radio fails, and of course they have the pit boards.

  30. When I was at FOM working on F1 Digital+ we did broadcast a lot of team radio live, especially on the pits channel where you would often hear detailed conversations between driver & engineer.
    We used to get a ton of swearing back then & because we were PPV we were able to get away with it to an extent. I remember Montoya used to swear a lot on his radio-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-zEnO_KwDg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyUGA-EJoJ4

    When we brought back team radio broadcast’s in late 2004 we did initially broadcast them live at times while also replaying some stuff delayed. There were a couple occasions when swearing made the broadcast & the various broadcasters complained to us about it which is why we went to delaying everything.

    Teams also then started blocking our access which made us limited in what we could get however thats now changed & FOM have access to everything.

    While I no longer work at FOM I know that they won’t be going back to live radio broadcast’s on tv anytime soon because of the sewaring issue. I know some would like to hear that but many do not, especially if there are kids watching.
    There’s an argument to put them online although FOM at present don’t have the facilities to do that themselfs as silly as that may sound.
    Havn’t asked about if its still going ahead recently but I the plan was for FOM to make all radio traffic avaliable to broadcasters next season so that they could put them online or use them in there own broadcasts.

    1. Hadn’t seen the Hockenheim one before, that’s great!

    2. gee, thanks for the insight GT_Racer. And a nice clip of the radio after that pole position.

  31. A good article, thanks!

    I expect that 90% of the RBR radio is Christian Horner congratulating Vettel and Vettel embarrassing himself afterwards.

    I have wondered for a while, how do they actually select what’s broadcast? It would be all too easy for someone at FOM to broadcast strategy calls for one team much more than the others, potentially creating a bit of bother for them.

    Is there a structured way on how they do things?

    For example, Germany last year. It was pretty obvious with or without Smedley’s comments that Massa had let Alonso through but if we never had heard that transmission perhaps it wouldn’t have exploded into the ordeal that it did?

  32. Anyone else’s thinking about Kimmi and his burning bottom in the NASCAR?

  33. I totally agree with this article, I remember the good old days of F1digital+ which used to broadcast team radios live and uninterrupted all through out the race. I remember Rubans crying on the radio after winning the german grand prix 2000, i especially remember Montoyas “******* Raikkonn……. what a ******* idiot” in quali for the belgium gp 2002.
    I remember when team radios came onto the world feed back in 2003 or 2004, there was a funny incident in the Chinese grand prix where one of the Minardi’s lost a wheel and the team enginner told the driver to drive off line and the driver replied “**** you”

    sorry about my spelling by the way lol

  34. Mind blowing stats. Thanks Keith and the team. I have heard many team radio communication happening during the free practice session where the drivers speak about set up challenges, tyres, fuels so on. An avid F1 follower would want to follow all the messages in those sessions too. Nick Fry once told that MSC gave a running commentry about the behavior the MGPW01 (gotta be cr*p) over the period of 3, 4 laps. It’s a shame. No one ever heard that.

    Team radio communications is a luxury to drivers in modern racing. Yet, most teams continue to use communication boards to convery crisp messages to the drivers like the gaps (+/-), IN or BOX this lap and so on. This article provides a different perspective on why FOM should allow all team communication to fans.

  35. I always love how Chris Dyer told Kimi “we’ll be on live TV later” on live TV :P http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdXf-KPcEw4

    1. Watching that I thought he was about to be told not to swear!

  36. I agree, we need way more team radio!!!! Under 3 minutes of Rob Smedley is a crime :)

  37. F1 fans are crazy people. We do need information though and it will never be enough. But it’s fun!

  38. – There’s a deer on the track.
    – Oh dear.
    – A DEER, like a horse with horns.

    :)
    Good ol’ times!

  39. I don’t get the full importance of radio messages. Yes, sometimes they’re very meaningful (as the infamous ‘Alonso is faster than you’) but most of the time is ordinary or not fully understandable to mainstream audience (such as ‘switch to plan B’ or stuff like that). Moreover, i think there’s also the language bareer that’s important in non-English speaking countries.
    The fact are those:
    1) sometimes they use jargon or they speak so fast that is difficult – with a ‘radio quality’ audio – to catch all the meaning
    2) commentators here sometimes can’t help to understand, also because the main commentator usually speaks over radio messages. Ivan Capelli (who’s the assistant commentator, as Coulthard is on BBC) is very helpful in a lot of circumstances, but if he isn’t paying enough attention to it, the message is lost.

  40. I disagree on one major point: I don’t think they should be broadcasting strategy. I really don’t think the broadcast should in any way interfere with the race. And moreover, I agree with what someone said above: I *do* like a bit of the mystery. Spelling everything out so that it’s all transparent makes me feel like you can already see how it’s going to play out many times. Yes, I like hearing the chatter to help the atmosphere. I grew up with that watching Indy Car races. But they also never let all the cards show. This to me is akin to people wanting to know fuel loads during practice or testing. If you know exactly who’s running what then you can tell what their true pace is like and then it’s already obvious who’s faster than who. I like not knowing who can hold the better pace for a race weekend. We didn’t expect McLaren to beat Red Bull in Germany, yet they pulled it off. What if we all knew exactly what was going on? The surprise would be lost. Likewise, I’d rather see strategies play out before me than be warned ahead of time what they intend to do.

  41. Well, just to remember some of my favourites (I’m sorry if I don’t remember the exact words):
    1. “Felipe, BABY, stay calm” (at the Malaysian storm where Button won half the points)
    2. “Alonso is faster than you, did you understand the message?” (Needless to explain when)
    3. Pit to Montoya in Austria:
    P: “There’s a deer on the track”
    M: “Oh, DEAR”
    P: “A deer, it’s like a horse…. with horns”
    (Montoya starts laughin)
    4. “Sorry mate, I’ve just vomited” (Webber in Melbourne , I think)
    And I’m sure there are some others rather funny or controversial
    (Like a PS I remember Alonso last year complaioning in Valencia about Hamilton overtaking the SC)

  42. Insightful analysis and I agree. I’d definitely like to hear more of the chatter from the teams lower down the order to supplement what we already get.

    1. I agree with that, I would love to hear how the lower down teams drivers cope with things

  43. More team radio would mean team radio constantly cutting into commentary.

    In other sports, you don’t get to know all the team communications, why should it be different in F1?

  44. Perhaps they could have a ‘red button’ for team radio only. They used to have it (and maybe still do – I’ve not got Sky Sports any more) for Fan Zone where two fans do the commentary, so why not a team radio button?

    1. sadly that wont help us in Canada

  45. If I was mclaren I would swear every other word so they wouldn’t broadcast any of the radio calls. Maybe that would help them with there poor strategies lol

  46. Even though i speak english, i sometimes find hard to understand those transmisions, so it would be nice to get some king of written message as well for the rest of the world.

    1. English is my native language and I often struggle! The quality is often very muffled. Understandable though I guess!

  47. I totally agree – I used to think it was such a shame that McLaren and Ferrari wouldn’t allow FOM access to their radio feeds. I’d love to have heard the team radio between the McLaren pitwall and Alonso/Hamilton during qualifying at Hungary 2007!

    On a similar note, at Silverstone, we were told that if we hired a FanVision portable TV for the weekend we could tune in to all of the radio traffic for a driver of our choice for the whole weeked.

    I didn’t end up hiring one in the end but I’d be intrigued to know if that’s true? If so, surely all the teams simply hire 23 of these every weekend and get someone in their team to listen to all of the team radio?

  48. Six celebration messages in Spain? Just what were these messages? Well, nevermind – I love it. If I had a say in it, we would hear from each points finisher after they have crossed the line.

  49. I don’t see the point of transmitting a message after the message has already been acted upon

  50. Keith you must be a mind reader… I couldn’t agree more. Great article – thanks.

  51. why not offer an archive of all the radio comms aftaer the race for the fans?
    the radio communication is unencrypted channels around 320Mhz.
    I was able to listen with a radio scanner

  52. Id luv to b able to hear all radio “chats”, it wld add to the atmospherex anticipation of the race, also a great debate cld b had after each race on how radio has helped or hinders each team,

  53. I would love to see Radio transmissions be used in such a way that they would create more of a “team” effort between drivers. I am tired of drivers fighting over who is the #1 when they should be working to get the team points.
    I say that they should allow the drivers to be able to communicate with each other during the race to talk stradegy. But I don’t think that the other teams should be allowed to hear the transmissions of other teams, nor do i think they should be allowed to watch the same broadcast that we do. (of course they could still do this covertly)

  54. lol…..britney :P

  55. John Bergqvist
    5th September 2011, 8:57

    I could be wrong but I remember FOM got in trouble with OFCOM (Communications regulatory body in the UK) during the days when Team Radio went out live and the driver called the car a “******* piece of ****” live over the radio on air in the middle of the day. I think they delayed them after that. Scroll down to where it mentions the Bahrain Grand Prix: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/enforcement/broadcast-bulletins/pcb31/

    1. Very interesting link, thanks.

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