Radio communication has become an essential part of Formula 1 as we know it today. It provides a verbal connection between race engineer and driver, allowing for changes to strategy and updates to be relayed to the driver on both a micro and macro scale.
First of all, let’s talk about the brief history of radio in F1. Colin Chapman of Lotus fame started experimenting with two-way radios in the 70s, but its use only became commonplace from the 1984 season onwards. For a while, us spectators were not allowed to tune into these messages, with the likes of McLaren and Ferrari being extra secretive about what was being said by the drivers in the heat of the moment. Eventually the FIA stepped in and by the early 2000s all team radios were being broadcasted on live television around the world. With a slight delay of course, just in case some expletives were blurted out in the exchange!
Over the years there have been a wide plethora of conversations, arguments and such take place over radio waves. Let’s take a look at some of the more memorable exchanges we have had the pleasure of listening to in Formula One.
“I’ve got vomiting going on…”
OK, perhaps it is a little childish to giggle at this one, but it can’t be helped. Mark had developed a bout of food poisoning during the 2007 Japanese GP weekend, and was feeling the full force of its associated symptoms during the race. He puked in his helmet but managed to carry on until his car gave up on him a few laps later. I’ve got to say, that is true Aussie grit right there!
I am in utter admiration of JP Monty’s wit whilst travelling at over 300km/h with this clever joke. A deer native to the Styrian alps darted across the track, prompting the Colombian driver’s race engineer to warn him of the impending danger. As you can hear from his response, Montoya was completely unfazed, but somewhat disappointed that his engineer didn’t seem to understand the pun.
“Much slower than before”
Fernando Alonso had a relatively unique way of expressing his dissatisfaction towards his McLaren team back in 2017. Suffice to say his return to the Woking outfit hadn’t gone quite as he had hoped. The biggest culprit was the underpowered Honda motor, pulling not much more than a horse-drawn cart down the straights at Catalunya. The Spaniard clearly wanted to make a clear message to the engineers back in Japan with this one.
“What I should do… throw it away or come in?”
This one is on the list simply due to the sheer stupidity of its circumstances. One of Robert Kubica’s mechanics left his phone in the cockpit by accident, and Kubica noticed the object clattering around his feet during his outlap for qualifying. Fortunately he noticed before starting his flying lap as things could have gone south very quickly. Robert saw the funny side of it though, threatening to throw the cellular device out of the Renault and onto the track. Way to make the situation even more tense for the poor mechanic!
“I’m struggling like a pig!”
What exactly were you trying to say here, Rubens? Most pigs live a life of relative luxury, with limitless food and the thought of survival virtually absent from their minds. They certainly don’t have to wrestle speed machines around a treacherous stretch of tarmac each week. Maybe another animal would have better transmitted your predicament to your race engineer Mr. Barrichello!
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