FIA backtracks on F1 radio limits; driver coaching still banned

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The FIA has bowed to pressure from the eleven Formula 1 teams to backtrack on its planned restrictions on pit-to-car radio communications in Singapore this weekend.

Following the Italian Grand Prix, FIA race director Charlie Whiting issued a technical directive to the teams that said excessive instructions from the pits to the car would no longer be tolerated, stressing the importance of the regulation that states drivers must race “alone and unaided”.

A list of instructions that were not permitted was issued by the FIA, and although most of the drivers were in favor of the change, the teams did raise some safety concerns about being unable to inform drivers of an impending car failure or issue that could otherwise be resolved.

Following a meeting with the race stewards and Charlie Whiting in Singapore on Thursday, the sport’s governing body confirmed that some of the instructions that were originally forbidden had been relaxed. The new list largely concerns driver coaching instead of technical settings on the car.

Here’s the new list of radio instructions that are not permitted:

  • Driving lines on the circuit
  • Contact with kerbs
  • Car setup parameters for specific corners
  • Comparative or absolute sector time detail of another driver
  • Speeds in corners compared to another driver
  • Gear selection compared with another driver
  • Gear selection in general
  • Braking points
  • Rate of braking compared to another driver
  • Rate of braking or application of brakes in general
  • Car stability under braking
  • Throttle application compared to another driver
  • Throttle application in general
  • Use of DRS compares with another driver
  • Use of any overtake button
  • Driving technique in general

Compared to the original list, the new directive is far less restrictive and does address the main problem – driver coaching – without making the change too seismic midway through the season.

The FIA plans to introduce the more restrictive radio regulations for the 2015 season, giving teams time during the off-season to adapt accordingly.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.