FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has admitted that any team’s attempts to circumvent the new restrictions on the pit-to-car radio rules with coded messages will be difficult to detect.

After initially announcing a massive clampdown in what radio instructions could be given by engineers to their drivers ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, the rules have subsequently been updated after a number of teams complained that the rules were too draconian.

The FIA had planned to ban almost all discussions relating to car and driver performance, but subsequently relinquished on the former and have permitted car-related conversations to occur until at least the end of the current season.

Speaking in an FIA-sanctioned press conference after today’s opening practice session, Whiting conceded that the teams could try to code driver performance-related messages, and that it would be difficult to police in the early stages of the new rules.

“It won’t be straightforward,” he told assembled reporters. “We will have a little bit of time to think about that because I think the list that the teams have been given today (pictured below) is quite straightforward, whereas if you’ve got a more complex, longer, more technical list there will be greater opportunities for that sort of thing.”


“It was put to me yesterday for example that if something like ‘oil transfer’ is allowed as a message it could be coded in such a way that ‘oil transfer’, when told to a driver in Turn 1 means something different to if it’s told to him in Turn 10 for example. So it’s going to be a little difficult but I’m fairly confident we can get over that one with enough time.”

Whiting confirmed that this weekend’s FIA Stewards’ panel – which included 1980 World Champion, Alan Jones, on its roster – found nothing untoward in its assessment of any communications flagged to it by the eight-member FIA team assigned to monitor in real time all of the teams’ radio messages over the weekend. Should the Stewards rule any communication to be out of order, Whiting confirmed that grid and time penalties would be the likely sanctions handed out.

“It’s not for me to say actually what the penalty will be because it’s a matter for the stewards, of course. All I would do is report to the stewards a possible contravention of Article 20.1, they would then decide what the penalty would be. I think it would have to be a sporting penalty rather than a monetary one, however,” he said.

“So I would imagine it would be something along those lines. If it happened in the race it might be – I emphasise might – a five-second time penalty for example. If it happened in practice it might be a grid position or something like that.”

Image via XPB Images

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.