MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A fresh clampdown on radio communications during Formula One races has been branded as “unnecessary” and “strange” by the drivers in the lead up to Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Governing body FIA will restrict messaging between drivers and pit walls in a number of areas, including flagging up positions of other cars during qualifying, as part of a crackdown mooted nearly two years ago.
Some team officials, including Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff, have welcomed the move to put more race management and strategy in the drivers’ hands, saying it would make races less predictable and more exciting.
But McLaren’s two-time world champion Fernando Alonso was dismissive of the idea that drivers would have more control over their fate on track.
“Instead of instinct from the driver, we will follow what we agreed two hours before the race,” Alonso told reporters in the paddock at Albert Park on Thursday.
“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.”
Force India driver Sergio Perez said he could not see the point of the new restrictions, claiming it would change nothing for the sport or the fans.
“It just puts a lot of extra load to the driver,” he said.
”I expect that everyone with their teams, or at least from our side, it’s pretty normal what we have to do and how we have to react.
“I hope the other teams and drivers can find it a bit harder, that would be great, but it doesn’t change a lot.”
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg also felt the radio bans were out of tune.
“It’s going to make it more challenging at times,” he said.
”It has a big influence... It’s gone to the extent of not being able to tell us that our strategies have changed.
“So if I change from a three-stop to a two-stop, I‘m driving flat out thinking I‘m stopping in two laps and then they’re just not going to pull me into the box (pits), and my tyres are going to be done.”
Editing by John O'Brien