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Changing the fabric of Formula 1

THE Formula 1 team bosses met on Saturday at the Nurburgring to once again try to hammer ideas of how F1 will be in 1996 and beyond. The meeting was attended by all the major team principals except Tom Walkinshaw and by the visiting Indycar team owner Roger Penske. The idea of teams running third cars was rejected because F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone could not get unanimous agreement, but he did manage to push through important changes in the way qualifying will be run next year.

Friday will cease to be a day of official qualifying, but instead will feature two one-hour sessions - with a lap limitation of 30 laps for the whole day. The times gained will not count for the grid. On Saturday morning there will be the usual 90 minutes of running - with a limit of 30 laps - and then there will be a hour-long qualifying session - in which drivers will be allowed to complete no more than 12 laps apiece. There will be no change in the rules restricting drivers to seven sets of tires for the weekend and Ecclestone said that he would be very happy if more tire manufacturers chose to become involved.

The single qualifying session will, however, feature the use of a T-car as is necessary to make sure that drivers are able to set a time, even if they suffer mechanical trouble.

After the meeting Ecclestone told pressmen that there will definitely be only 16 races in 1996 and that there may even be a rule introduced stipulating a minimum number of weeks between the last race of one season and the first race of the next. This is expected to be 14 weeks, although 18 was also mentioned. The expected gap in the coming off-season is 14 weeks.

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