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The new rules for 2001

THE FIA has announced a number of new technical regulations for the 2001 season. These have been formulated by the Formula 1 Technical Working Group, which is made up of engineers from each of the teams, and has been agreed by the FIA World Motor Sport Council. These are mainly safety-related and include a stronger roll structure test with much higher lateral forces, twin cables connecting the wheels to the cars, to prevent them becoming separated from the chassis in an accident. A slightly bigger chassis to allow for a bigger cockpit opening and a larger internal cross-section to allow for foam padding around the legs of the driver. The only performance-related change is that the front wings will be raised by 5cm to reduce downforce. There continues to be pressure for a major redesign of the cars to improve the racing with most engineers arguing for wider slick tires to improve grip allied to a reduction in aerodynamic surfaces to reduce downforce. This will shift the emphasis more to finding mechanical grip and should enable the cars to be less sensitive when running behind other cars. To date the suggestions have been rejected by the FIA but with the FIA General Assembly meeting this week in Paris to decide whether or not to allow Bernie Ecclestone to take over the entire running of Grand Prix racing (including the rule-making process) it is quite likely that there will be major rule changes for 2002 when the influence of the FIA will have been reduced. Bridgestone says it is not keen on a rule change because it will mean extra development work and will give Michelin more of a chance to be competitive.

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