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FIA admits traction-control

AS we revealed exclusively two weeks ago, at least one team (we believe it was three) were using illegal traction-control systems in Grands Prix last year. The news was confirmed at Imola by FIA President Max Mosley, although he refused to name the team and even refused to say how many teams had been involved.

"I am not going to name the team, but they were prepared to do something which was quite clearly outside the rules," said Mosley. "We became aware of it over the winter, but we do not have 100% proof at the moment. When we do we will have a word with them. But I do not believe it materially affected the course of the championship."

The governing body appears to have decided to publicize the situation (without giving any details) to force the teams to accept the new electronic regulations it is proposing. The publicity will stop the teams complaining as they cannot be seen to be defending traction control without the public drawing the wrong conclusions.

Mosley said that he was acting because he wanted to avoid what he called "a culture of infringement of the rules" which he said was "unpleasant" because "when you get that you are getting to a stage where even the completely honest man has to cheat to be competitive. "Our job is to look each team principal in the eye and say we can guarantee to you no other team are breaking the rules."

Mosley said that the FIA cannot afford to allow teams to police themselves. "We are not prepared to take anything on trust any more," he said.

Mosley said that the FIA became aware of the problem during "a routine winter audit" but our spies at the FIA continue to insist that it was actually pointed out to the governing body by McLaren which somehow managed to get information about the systems being used by a variety of rival teams. No-one at McLaren would confirm that this was the case but no-one denies it either.

Mosley said that he did not believe that the rule-breaking had any significant effect on the outcome of the 1999 World Championship.

The teams will be required to change their electronics systems in time for the British Grand Prix. The new rules include a ban on pitlane speed limiters and a variety of other cutbacks.

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