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World Council decisions

THE FIA World Council was in a generous mood when it met last week in Paris, France, and let off both Monaco and Canada for incidents during the recent Grands Prix. Monaco received no punishment for the incident in which Taki Inoue's Footwork was destroyed when hit by a course car which was traveling far to fast. The Automobile Club of Monaco is believed to be settling damage claims directly with the Arrows team, which runs the Footwork chassis.

The organizers of the Canadian GP were also lucky to escape without sanction following the track invasion at the end of the race. The Council decided that the race result should be based on the order on the penultimate lap - before the crowds began to pour onto the circuit. This means that Tyrrell's Mika Salo gets back his seventh place while Minardi's Luca Badoer is pushed back down to eighth place. The Council issued a general warning to all F1 organizers that track invasions will be regarded with "the utmost gravity" and threatened "serious penalties" in the future.

There were a variety of other changes voted through, notably a decision to introduce a 107% qualifying rule in F1 next year. This move has caused alarm among the little F1 teams which feel they are being forced out of the sport. The FIA is defending the decision saying that it will force teams to improve or go out of business. Insiders suggest that the FIA is not bothered if grids fall to as few as 18 cars, so long as those left are competitive.

Other rule changes ban F1 teams from working with companies which have been involved in checking F1 electronic systems for the FIA during the previous 24 months; and insist that drivers who abandon their cars on the track must leave the vehicles in neutral with the clutch disengaged and the steering wheel in place.

The International Sporting Code is also to be changed so that only in exceptional circumstances will a driver and a team be treated differently with regard to points awarded - as happened after the Brazilian GP this year. In addition there is a new rule which will state that if a car does not comply with the technical regulations it shall be no defense to claim that there was no performance advantage gained. Stewards are also to be given more powers and will henceforth be allowed to overrule judgements of fact.

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