Team radios have been a huge part of the entertainment that fans enjoy from the races. But some drivers don't share the same sentiment.
After the Portuguese Grand Prix, there was quite a stir over the language used over the drivers’ radios, and under blast in particular were Max Verstappen and Lando Norris. Both had been critical of Lance Stroll’s driving in regards to incidents on track, and the resulting broadcasts sparked outrage across the internet. Verstappen was reproached for his usage of slurs, Norris for his language and comments made during the post-race interviews. Norris was quick to apologise on the radio and to issue another statement on social media, while Verstappen has admitted that his words could have been better chosen.
While expletives are not uncommon in the slightest, Verstappen’s use of slurs was the catalyst of the backlash over the race weekend. And while he has stated that he will be doing better after this experience, the debate remains: should we continue to broadcast team radios? This is not a new debate, drivers such as Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean have had their own remarks about the topic. Even back in 2015, Fernando Alonso had expressed his (displeased) thoughts on the broadcasts. There seems to be a general consensus among the drivers (at least with the ones who have spoken) that they do not agree with the broadcasts. In particular, Grosjean remarked, “I don't like radio messaging being broadcasted,” and Alonso said, “what you say on the radio should remain private because you are talking with your team, not publicly”.
Yet as we have seen in recent years, the team radios have brought more to the experience for fans. There is an added sense of accessibility to the teams, insight to the races themselves, and of course, who could leave out the stellar memes? Various quips and reactions have been immortalised in YouTube compilations, running gags and fan references. Even cursing is part of the menu, for example Valterri Bottas’ now-famous quote, “to whom it may concern, **** you.” Norris, one of the drivers involved in the backlash, is responsible for the heavily reused “it’s bwoken!” and the radio check snippet “it’s Friday then…” which snagged the ‘Unexpected Sport Moment of the Year’ from the BBC Radio 1 Lockdown Awards. There have also been the tearjerking radios from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, courtesy of the drivers' farewell messages to their teams. (notably Sebastian Vettel's performance of his custom song for his Ferrari crew) It is quite clear that radio messages are a huge source of entertainment for the F1 community, and as a fan myself, I can vouch that we would very much like them to remain.
On the contrary, the team radios have brought some less pleasant moments
There are heartbreaks such as Charles Leclerc’s post-race rant after the Turkish Grand Prix and even Vettel’s complete silence in regards to his Tuscan Grand Prix qualifying result. But at the centre of this debate, are the raw, emotional and profane outbursts of the drivers under pressure. Of course, everyone has utilised a curse word every now and then, and understandably, they are also part of the drivers’ vocabularies. Although the radios played during the live races have been edited, their choice of words is often still obvious and uncensored versions can be found online. As Alonso said in 2015, “it's just the frustration of battling hard and wanting to be competitive” and Leclerc last year, “obviously in the car it’s always very difficult. There is a lot of adrenaline.”
Regardless, it is safe to say that team radios bring much to the sport. While the usage of slurs is entirely inappropriate (whoever you may be), being upset over a driver’s choice of cuss words is unjustified. As per Carlos Sainz Jr’s words, “it’s just that you’ve got to understand that we are in the heat of the moment, we are under pressure.” Yes, they may be in the public eye, and for that their actions have much bigger attention. But they are also human, and since team radios have been credited and even applauded for helping to shuck F1’s inaccessibility from the community, we need to accept their reactions for what they are. This is also a learning opportunity, as drivers such as Leclerc have said that they have “got a lot to learn and a lot to improve,” and they should be allowed the time and opportunity to do so.
And for this reason, the answer is yes, team radios should be broadcast, and fans should buckle up for more entertainment to come.
*This post is republished with permission from author, please find the original post here: https://drivetribe.com/p/should-we-keep-broadcasting-team-bjWtuq63QAe8_VE6RnClkA?iid=TwAAzVdTSuijE_6l44Vfxg