FIA unveil radical technical measures to cut soaring costs

LONDON: Formula One’s ruling body unveiled a package of radical technical measures on Wednesday to cut soaring costs and make racing more exciting as recession bites. 

The measures, eliminating many of the sport’s electronic ‘driver aids’, were hailed as a shot in the arm by hard-up smaller teams struggling to find funds. 

“It’s a huge day as far as we are concerned,” said Irish team boss Eddie Jordan after the meeting with International Automobile Federation (FIA) President Max Mosley and commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone. 

Mosley told Reuters that he was confident no more teams would go to the wall this season after a year that has seen Prost and Arrows collapse. 

He promised the FIA would be adopting a no-nonsense approach to the existing rules when the season starts in Australia on March 9. 

The measures include eliminating all radio communication during races between a driver and team and also the two-way telemetry that allows engineers to change a car’s settings electronically while it is in motion. 

Each team will only be allowed two cars from this year, removing the “spare” from the garage, and the FIA also plan to impound cars between final qualifying and the race. 

Teams will be allowed to work on them only under strict supervision, ensuring that they do not use special engines and developments for the new single-lap qualifying format to be used for the first time this year. 

From 2004, it is planned that all cars will have a standard braking system and rear wing design and car manufacturers involved in Formula One must ensure that no team is left without an engine. 

The FIA plans to get rid of traction control and fully automatic gearboxes as soon as possible but by 2004 at the latest if it proves too expensive for teams to do so immediately. 

Traction control was banned for most of the 1990s as the governing body tried to prevent the technology diluting the drivers’ skills. 

It was reintroduced after persistent suspicions of cheating by some teams and after the FIA admitted they were unable to police the systems effectively. 

Mosley said on Wednesday that “the big change” was that the teams had now agreed a new technical regulation under which they must be able to show by physical inspection that the cars complied with the rules. 

“That being the case, the suspicion disappears because probably the only way of doing it is with a standard FIA ECU (electronic control unit) both for the engine and transmission,” he said. 

The ECU is effectively the electronic brains of a racing car’s engine. – Reuters 

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