Formula One officials will be on the lookout for suspicious messages and secret codes during Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix as they seek to enforce new radio restrictions.
The crackdown on communications between team strategists in the pits and drivers is designed to put more power back in the hands of the drivers as they assess race conditions in front of them.
FIA, the sport’s governing body, has issued a list of allowable communications between pit and driver and will assign a team of officials to listen in on radio transmissions during the race to ensure teams don’t try to get around the new regulations.
“We will hear every single message, I am sure of that,” FIA Formula One director Charlie Whiting said.
“If we have some suspicion that a message is rather odd we will look at the data and see if there has been any difference to the car’s performance.
“They will do their very best to get as much information to the drivers as they can … we just hope they continue to do it in a legal way.
“We are trying to make sure the driver is driving the car on his own and the car is not being driven for him.
“The better drivers will inevitably do a better job.”
The communications crackdown also extends to data transmissions and pitboard displays.
The moves have divided opinion among drivers, with some welcoming the opportunity to run their own race to a greater extent.
However, 2009 world champion Jenson Button said the new rules were unenforceable, and McLaren-Honda teammate Fernando Alonso felt they would actually serve to rob drivers of their independence.
“It’s strange the direction that they are going … in the era of communication and technology Formula One try to restrict it, which is probably not the normal way to go,” Alonso said.
“I don’t think it will give to the driver any more power to influence the race itself, because of those (communication) limitations the strategy for the race will be much more strict.
“We will follow, more or less, the (team) approach to that race – how we prepared in meetings – much more than before.”