JANUARY 22, 2003
A compromise is found
The meeting of the Technical Working Group yesterday in London finally hammered out a working set of regulations for the season ahead with both the FIA and the F1 engineers accepting compromise in an effort to things forward. The FIA has achieved a lot of the goals that were set but has had to give way on others. This was not unexpected and indeed some measures dropped were probably only put into the package so that they could later be sacrificed. This is almost certainly true of car-to-pit radio which is not costly and which the teams feel they need. This will remain but only if access to the system is accessible to the FIA and to TV broadcasters. In addition the FIA will look at providing the radio to the spectators at the circuits as well.
Pit to car telemtry is gone with immediate effect and car-to-pit telemetry will follow next year, the teams having proved that to get rid of such systems this year would have added to costs.
The use of the spare car remains limited but teams will be allowed to use a spare if the race car is damaged beyond repair. The cars can also be used in the car fails before the start or there is a race stoppage in the first two laps of the Grand Prix. The logic behind this is that the loss of cars during qualifying would reduce the spectacle, particularly if a top driver was the victim of misfortune.
The parc ferme regulation has also been relaxed to allow teams to have the cars in their own garages although any work on them will be done under FIA supervision to ensure that no major components are changed. Work on the cars will be severely restricted.
The main aim of the FIA's redefining of the regulations was to get rid of electronic systems once again and this has been achieved with traction control, automatic gearboxes and launch control being banned from the 2003 British Grand Prix onwards. There is a slight question mark over launch control as it is yet to be seen whether or not teams can all operate their current clutch systems manually. The FIA says that it is confident that these rules can be policed successfully and so it has said that it will not be necessary to issue a standard electronic control unit in 2004.
The teams will still be allowed to use common components and the FIA retains the intention of introducing standard braking systems, a standard rear wing and long-lasting components in 2004 and in 2005 to extend the life of the engines from one race to two, to extend the life of major components and introduce penalties for engine and component changes. For the moment at least the FIA retains its desire to have engines that will be used for six races in 2006.
Both sides have won enough to be able to claim victory in the dispute and so it is fair to say that the best result has probably been achieved.
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