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Making the rules

The FIA World Motor Sport Council has taken another major step in wresting control of the rule-making process away from the Formula 1 teams.

The Council, which meets four times a year, is made up of representatives from automobile sporting clubs from around the world and currently includes representatives from such diverse countries as Argentina, Finland, Mexico, India, Japan, Jordan, Poland and Greece. Among the 24 members of the Council are such important figures as former FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre (who represents France), Burdette Martin (from the United States) and Bernie Ecclestone (who represents the F1 teams). The Council is chaired by either FIA President Max Mosley or by his Deputy from Portugal, Cesar Torres.

The WMSC makes all the decisions related to motor sport and is kept informed by the FIA permanent secretariat - based in Paris - and around 15 specialist commissions.

The Council has now ruled that from 1997, in the event of an "excessive increase in speed" the FIA will have the right to ask the F1 teams to submit proposals to reduce speeds. If such a proposal is not received within three months, the FIA will then have the right to impose its own regulations.

This is far more important than it might seem as one must assume that the FIA decides what amounts to an "excessive increase in speed." In other words, the FIA can decide when it wants to change the rules; and F1 teams - which never agree on anything - have three months to get together and come up with a different solution. With the current crop of team managers and the commercial pressures on all the teams, that is never likely to happen, which means that from 1997 the FIA will be able to do more or less as it pleases.

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