FIA wary of coded messages under new radio restrictions

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The FIA is confident it will be able to pick out and penalise coded messages teams attempt to relay to their drivers under the new pit-to-car radio restrictions.

In a bid to ensure the drivers are not coached through races by their engineers, the FIA is imposing greater restrictions on what can be said. The idea is to force drivers to manage their own race strategy, engine settings, tyre degradation and brakes wear. A full list of what can be said over the radio has been issued to teams ahead of the race and the FIA will monitor all the driver's radio channels throughout the race to ensure nothing off the list is being said.

"We will hear every single message, I am absolutely sure of that. As for coded messages, we've got to be a little careful about that. If we had some suspicion that a message is rather odd, we could look at the data from the car and see if anything has changed in response to that message. Then at the next race if we hear the same message we will look for the same switch change or something like that. We will build up a little knowledge.

"I can't tell you how a coded message is defined because it depends entirely upon what the message is and what the explanation for that message is. By putting down exactly what you can say, if you go outside of that it is fairly obvious.

"I've had some very strange questions about people saying things like 'The birds flying high in the sky today' and stuff like that, but I just say 'It's not on the list'. Seriously, even by using some of these things on the list there probably is a way of getting a message across which we weren't intending them to, but we will have to deal with that on a case-by-case basis."

Asked about penalties, Whiting added: "It would depend on the level of the breach. If it was a simple one we would let them get away with at this stage, but if it was a more serious one the stewards might consider a reprimand, but if they were to do something that really helped the driver do something that he should be doing himself, then I suspect a time penalty might be more appropriate."

The FIA will also be keeping an eye on the team's pit boards.

"There has been some suggestion that, for example, by putting the lap count on the pit board in red it would mean one thing, if it's yellow another and white another. But we do have a camera looking at all the pit boards so if we see anything unusual we might have to ask why. I think the teams will do their very best to try to get as much information to the drivers as they can, but I just hope they continue to do it in a legal way."

And Whiting is confident radio traffic will still be entertaining for fans watching on TV.

"First of all, we had many complaints from viewers who were fed up of hearing continuous engineering assistance to the driver. That's fundamentally what we want to cut out. But the driver is allowed to say anything he wants. There's no restriction to what he said it's just what the team can say to him. What I would call the juicy content, if a driver wants to call one of the others an idiot, is still there."