The Top 10 Formula 1 Pit Radio Messages of 2013
Now that the serious business of who is going to win the World Championship is finished, it is time for a little fun: Ranking the top 10 pit radio messages of the 2013 Formula 1 season.
While such an exercise is inherently subjective, each message was evaluated against a set of criteria:
- What was the impact/fall-out of the message (on the race, the rest of the season, etc.)?
- Was the message unique? (No one wants to listen to 50 messages about graining tyres.)
- And, most importantly, how funny/entertaining/dramatic was the message?
It should also be noted that, for the purposes of this list, only race day messages were considered. So no matter how entertaining the Toro Rosso drivers' conversation was about who would go to the toilet, and when, during the rain delay in Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying, it was ineligible.
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These radio messages almost made the list. Although they are funny, they did not quite have the same impact as the quotes that did make the top 10. Enjoy!
And again, in Abu Dhabi, still having temperature problems, per F1 Fanatic: "That's hot air. It's blowing hot air at me."
Rob Smedley (Felipe Massa's race engineer) talking to Massa, or possibly his dog, at the Brazilian Grand Prix, as quoted by F1 Fanatic: "OK, that was a good pass, mate. Come on, boy. Come on."
Guillaume "Rocky" Rocquelin (Sebastian Vettel's race engineer) teasing Vettel that he will not be scoring the fastest lap at the Indian Grand Prix, per F1 Fanatic: "Good job, Seb. We'll talk about this afterwards. Just so you know, Raikkonen pitted on the last lap. He's now on brand new tyres and he's going to obliterate your lap."
And finally, Nico Hulkenberg, battling with Hamilton for fourth place at the Korean Grand Prix, according to F1 Fanatic: "**** that Mercedes has got some downforce. I just hope we don't fall off like bananas at the end of the race. This is 110 percent."
10: Shake 'N' Bake!
As Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to take his eighth victory in a row at the U.S. Grand Prix, he paid tribute to an American sporting legend: Ricky Bobby.
In the heart of NASCAR country, according to F1 Fanatic, Vettel radioed his team, "I'm speechless... I'm speechless. We have to remember these days. There's no guarantee that they will last forever. Enjoy them as long as they last. I love you guys. We have an incredible team spirit, incredible. I'm so proud of you. I love you. Yes! Shake 'n' bake!"
Vettel scores points in our ranking for his pop culture knowledge; his ability to be so enthusiastic after another, seemingly routine, victory; and for proving he is not a robot.
The German also mentioned shake 'n' bake during qualifying, so this was obviously a running joke amongst the Red Bull team during their week in the U.S. On the BBC, David Coulthard and Ben Edwards could not place the reference, though. Minus-one for them.
9: Felipe Massa's Last Race with Ferrari
Felipe Massa spent the last eight seasons at Ferrari. He nearly won the World Championship in 2008 and suffered a horrific injury in Hungary in 2009. Since then, he has not been the same driver, with only eight podium finishes in four seasons.
Still, he was valued by Ferrari for his experience, and because he was a good teammate, deferring to Fernando Alonso when necessary. After an emotional final race for the Scuderia in his home country of Brazil, the team let Massa know exactly how they felt about him, as quoted by F1 Fanatic:
Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari team principal): "We love you. You will always be in our heart. And don't forget an important thing: You are a world champion for us. Obrigado [thank you], Feli."
Massa: "Thank you, guys. Grazie mille [thank you so much]. Don't say these things because I could cry at the wheel."
After the race, Alonso revealed that he would have given up his third place for Massa, had the Brazilian been behind him (he was not, due to a drive-through penalty).
8: Button Predicts Success in Brazil
The 2013 season was one of the worst in McLaren history, as the team finished without a single podium. After a typically lacklustre finish at the U.S. Grand Prix, no one was expecting much when the team arrived in Sao Paulo for the season finale. But the team surprised everyone with fourth- and sixth-place finishes for Button and Sergio Perez. Well, almost everyone.
It turns out that Button had predicted this success a week earlier, following the race in Austin. As he crossed the finish line in 10th place, according to F1 Fanatic, he radioed to the team:
Button: "Yeah, cheers. It'd be nice to get it all together one weekend. Sorry about that, guys. But Brazil—it's going to happen. It's going to be a great weekend."
Dave Robson (Button's race engineer): "Yep, absolutely. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be... It'll be good."
Button scores points not only for his seemingly limitless optimism in the midst of a horrible season, but also for essentially calling his shot for the next race.
7: Excuse Me, Coming Through!
Romain Grosjean finished the year very strongly, with four podiums in the last six races. However, this incident in Monaco reminds us that, as recently as midway through the season, he was not necessarily seen as the long-term solution at Lotus.
Grosjean had already hit the barriers in both practice and qualifying, before slamming into the back of Ricciardo's car as they approached the Nouvelle Chicane during the race. Ricciardo's radio message, as quoted by F1 Fanatic, tells you exactly how Grosjean was viewed by his fellow drivers at the time:
Ricciardo: "I've been hit."
Marco Matassa (Ricciardo's race engineer): "Are you OK, Daniel?"
Ricciardo: "Yep, OK."
Matassa: "What happened?"
Ricciardo: "You can probably guess the driver. Looks like he probably misjudged it. Went over the top of me."
Although Grosjean tried to shift the blame to the Australian, the stewards handed him a 10-place grid penalty for the next race.
This message scores highly for Ricciardo's use of sarcasm, but also because it highlights a defining moment for one of the stars of the season. After Monaco, Grosjean was still viewed as a reckless driver with a penchant for heavy shunts. But then things started to change.
With his penalty in Canada, he only managed a 13th-place finish, and then he retired from the British Grand Prix. From then on, though, Grosjean scored five podiums and never finished lower than eighth, except for two retirements (neither of which were his fault). By the end of the year, some writers were naming him the driver of the year!
6: Grosjean Is Asked to Smile
At the Korean Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean begged the Lotus team to allow him to pass Kimi Raikkonen late in the race. His request was denied and the Lotuses finished second and third.
Grosjean was upset, but a mysterious 'Pat' came on the radio to calm him down. According to F1 Fanatic, he tried to soother the French driver, telling him, "We'll talk about this in the office after the race, of course, but for now, big f****** smile on the podium, please; big f****** smile."
Was it Patrick Louis, CEO of the Lotus team? Maybe. Either way, Grosjean did smile on the podium and, as noted by Autosport, later admitted it was his fault that Raikkonen got ahead of him in the first place and said there was no controversy within the team.
As fun as it is to hear teams tell their millionaire drivers how to behave on the podium, the reason this message is on our list is that it foreshadowed what would happen two races later, at the Indian Grand Prix—where the result of Grosjean's request would be much different.
5: Lewis Can't Drive Any Slower
Lewis Hamilton qualified second for the Spanish Grand Prix. By the end of the first lap, he was fourth, and he kept dropping through the field from there.
As his free-fall continued, Hamilton noted dryly to the Mercedes pit wall that, "I've just been overtaken by a Williams," according to the Daily Mirror. Soon after, with the team asking him to slow down to save his tyres, he complained, "I can't drive any slower."
Eventually, Hamilton finished 12th in the race. This would prove to be a temporary set-back, however. He went on to score points in every race for the rest of the season (except the Japanese Grand Prix, where he retired), and Mercedes finished a strong second in the Constructors' Championship.
Hamilton's desperate pleas for the team to change his tyres at the Korean Grand Prix were also considered for this spot, but the demonstration of his dry, British wit in the Williams comment made this message a better choice. Also, the fact that he was driving as slowly as he could highlights one of the biggest complaints about the high-degredation Pirelli tyres in 2013: they did not allow the racers to race.
4: Vettel Impersonates the Iceman
Sebastian Vettel developed a taste for donuts in 2013, and not the fried kind. (If he started eating those, he would be too fat to fit in an F1 car, like Nico Hulkenberg.)
Rather, after clinching the World Championship at the Indian Grand Prix, the German driver entertained the fans with some donuts in front of the grandstand. The team was subsequently fined, in particular because Vettel failed to return his car immediately to parc ferme.
Two weeks later in Abu Dhabi, after winning his seventh grand prix in a row, Vettel decided to put on a show again. His antics led to this radio exchange with his race engineer, Guillaume (Rocky) Rocquelin, and team principal, Christian Horner, as quoted by F1 Fanatic:
Vettel: "Happy now?"
Rocky: "Yeah, I've counted; that's $125,000."
Horner: "By the way, you can pay that one."
Rocky: "You do need to bring the car back, OK? Bring the car back into the pit lane, please."
Rocky: "Sorry to be on your case, but to be clear, you do need to bring it home, OK? In the garage."
Vettel: "Ah, let me quote: 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what I'm doing.'"
Rocky: "Yeah, I've got the evidence to the contrary. You did pretty good today, though."
3: Sutil Bashes His Car
The Korean Grand Prix was not a weekend to remember for Adrian Sutil. He qualified 14th, slammed into Mark Webber (eventually causing the Red Bull car to catch fire) and then retired himself, five laps from the finish.
Early in the race, his engineer, Brad Joyce, was urging him to increase his speed. According to F1 Fanatic, Joyce told Sutil that, "We need to push a bit more, now. We need to catch up the cars in front."
Sutil, no doubt endearing himself to the Force India designers, responded, "The car's f****** slow. I can't go faster. It's a piece of s***."
On entertainment value alone, this message is probably the best of the year. However, its relevance and overall impact is not the same as the top two messages in our countdown.
This one is so high on the list not because of what was said on the radio (not much), but because of the fallout from Sebastian Vettel's actions.
Near the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Mark Webber came out of the pits just ahead of Vettel. Despite being told by the team to hold position, Vettel went wheel-to-wheel with the Australian, while team principal, Christian Horner, barked in his ear, according to The Telegraph, "This is silly, Seb, come on."
Vettel did eventually take the place, and the win. The team was clearly not happy, though, and his race engineer rebuked him on the radio: "Good job, Seb. Looks like you wanted it bad enough. Still you've got some explaining to do."
Despite a one-two Red Bull finish, the podium celebration was quite subdued. Vettel first apologized to Webber, but then retracted it. At races later in the season, Vettel was booed on the podium, at least partly due to the villain status he created for himself in Malaysia.
Also, Webber later announced his retirement from F1. Although he never said it, the decision was likely motivated, at least in part, by the fraught working relationship with his teammate and the knowledge that he was firmly planted in the number two driver position at Red Bull.
1: Lotus Tries to Get Raikkonen out of the Way in India
Near the end of the Indian Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen was hanging on to third place ahead of his teammate, Romain Grosjean, who was on much fresher tires. As Raikkonen held up Grosjean, Felipe Massa was catching both Lotuses.
Grosjean tried to pass Raikkonen on the outside, and the Iceman ran him wide, costing both drivers time, and leading to the following exchange on the radio, per F1 Fanatic:
Grosjean: "Come on, guys."
Ayao Komatsu (Grosjean's race engineer): "OK, we are telling Kimi."
Alan Permane (Lotus Trackside Operations Director): "Kimi, get the f*** out of the way!"
Raikkonen: "Don't shout, f*****. When I have a chance, but not in the middle of the fast corners."
This one takes the top spot because, not only was it entertaining, it represents the frayed relationship that developed between Raikkonen and Lotus as the season progressed.
Eventually, Raikkonen announced that he was leaving the team for Ferrari in 2014, that he had not been paid his 2013 salary, and that he was opting for back surgery instead of driving the final two races of the season.