MARCH 13, 2001
Frentzen calms traction control debate
HEINZ-HARALD FRENTZEN has explained his comments about Sauber's Nick Heidfeld after the Jordan driver's words sparked controversy and further debate on the use of traction control in Formula One.
Frentzen seemed to hint on his official website that he suspected the Sauber of Heidfeld perhaps had traction control in the Australian Grand Prix. Heidfeld finished fourth and Frentzen fifth and the latter has moved to confirm what he meant by his original comments.
"In the past 18 races, I had plenty of opportunity to trail behind Ferrari cars or machinery powered by Ferrari engines," Frentzen said on his official site.
"And one thing was particularly remarkable: out of tight corners, these cars had pretty stunning acceleration, combined with a misfiring engine.
"For me, it is beyond doubt that somehow Ferrari managed to develop an engine software which reduces the power by a certain margin to the extent that the driven wheels don't spin."
Traction control will only be permitted from April's Spanish Grand Prix onwards and Frentzen said the FIA have done the right thing in making it legal. He also defined his thoughts on Heidfeld's performance as he finished fourth in Melbourne.
"It cannot be ignored that something like that (traction control) exists, there is simply no room for a discussion about that," Frentzen said. "On the other hand, however, you can discuss if the device that exists is legal or illegal.
"I believe that Formula One - thanks to its brilliant engineers - progressed into an area which is hard to be defined even by the FIA. And this is exactly why the FIA opted for the right consequence to change the rules in order to legalize traction control in the future."
He added: "In the laps when I was following Nick (Heidfeld - in Australia), he drove without any errors. This was a performance that deserved to be awarded with his first-ever Formula One points."
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