Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Radio free Europe - Access to behind the scenes radio from the teams

Published by Mr. C

In addition to providing the two of us admission to free practice at Silverstone yesterday, the lovely people from Shell supplied a pair of Kangaroo TV handsets for use during the day. If we hadn't been given a set though, we'd surely have paid for one, because as we said way back in 2007 these things rock our world.

Watching a single corner of a race track, and squinting at the nearest jumbotron, doesn't hold much appeal for us. We're clearly the kind of people who need to know exactly what's going on at a Grand Prix to really enjoy the experience. No doubt we would've hated turning up to pre-2006 races.

Kangaroo TV

This year the handset features have improved (including bespoke Shell branded data on ours), especially now all teams are required to make radio transmissions available. By the end of Free Practice 2 I'd become somewhat addicted to following the in-garage audio, which includes considerably more detailed conversation than we're used to hearing on television.

One particular chat, that was only partly covered by 5Live's broadcast, was Jenson's continual struggle to set his car up properly on a Friday. We know from previous outings this year, that our current championship leader has had to borrow a number of set-ups from team-mate Barrichello, when changes he's tried haven't worked out so well. Things didn't appear to improve during Friday at Silverstone either.

During FP1, there was much strained conversation between Button and radio man Andrew Shovlin, and then during FP2 matters appeared to deteriorate further. Whatever changes had been discussed and implemented during the break between sessions weren't working for Jenson and he requested they completely roll back to the mornings configuration. The response was surprising:

Yeah, we've heard this kind of thing from you before Jenson.

After a further debate, the number 22 car returned to the pits and twenty minutes worth of work was carried out. Finally out on the circuit again, and the next radio message went something like:

Changes rolled back. Track time is there. Up to you if you want to use it.

I may be reading too much into things but the inference appeared to be - you've now wasted this whole session, we're back to where we started, hope you're having fun.

Clearly the team rate the man for his driving ability but I do wonder if they're getting more useful information from the other side of the garage? Rubens radio, incidentally, contained shorter bursts of direct information. He wants a softer front, or more stability at the rear.

I fully expected that data would be shared during the evenings debrief, Jenson would be more comfortable come FP3 and usual programming would resume by the end of qualifying. 6th place (his worst of the year) for the British GP wasn't where anyone expected the man from Frome to finish up.

It's difficult to say if there really are problems at Brawn GP. You would imagine that given their current dominant position all would be sweetness and light. Is Rubens that much better at setting up a chassis?

Additionally, it is quite hard to hear exactly what was said on the radio, with cars screaming past every couple of seconds. So the above should at least be considered a rough interpretation at best. Thankfully, live commenting trackside is a fantastic experience, and at least allowed most of the conversation to be transcribed as it happened.

Without a doubt, viewers at home should have more access to this new era of radio transparency. Teams are clearly going to great efforts to improve the show but to the majority of fans watching from their sofa, this work is going to waste.