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DECEMBER 9, 2000

Ferrari spark civil war

DOUBLE world champions Ferrari sparked a new Formula One civil war on Friday after blocking the immediate return of electronic driver aids, it was claimed.

According to Formula One sources, the Italian marque used its veto, at the World Motor Sport Council meeting in Monaco, to prevent traction control being re-admitted to Grand Prix racing and provoked a furious response from rival teams after the decision.

The absence of a unanimous decision meant that the remainder of the 11-team grid must wait until at least the fourth race of the 2001 season, in Spain, before driver aids are re-introduced after a six-year ban.

"We expected traction control to be given the go-ahead and be approved for the start of the season," said one team source. "But it needed a unanimous decision from the teams and we didn't get that."

Minardi, Prost and Sauber, three teams with close links to Ferrari, were also claimed to have voted against the proposal.

"Ferrari didn't want it to be introduced and it was little surprise that those three other teams all voted against it," the source said.

Traction control was banned by the FIA in 1994 but it has become increasingly difficult to police with the introduction of sophisticated electronic engine control software.

The source added: "It seems that someone, somewhere has got something to hide. They have obviously got an advantage and it all leads to suggestions of something illegal.

"The Technical Working Group said two weeks ago that it recommended that traction control be made legal in Formula One. It cannot be policed and they informed the FIA that it should be made legal.

"But it seems that because of one team it will not go through. A lot of the teams wanted it and it has left the sport in an absolute mess.

"The sport is being dragged through the mud and to say the whole thing is a joke is an absolute understatement."