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FEBRUARY 20, 2003

McLaren and Williams go to arbitration

Williams and McLaren are going to take the FIA to arbitration over what they call "new regulations" which have been introduced this year. They claim that the federation is "in breach of the contract that covers the running of the World Championship". The teams say they will continue to take part in the 2003 World Championship but want to challenge the decisions that have been made.

They teams say that they are "deeply concerned that FIA President Max Mosley is seeking to introduce changes the combined effect of which would undermine the fundamental values of Formula 1 as the pinnacle of motorsport and a technological showcase. Furthermore, both teams have deep concerns that the F1 Technical Working Group, which is made up of the technical directors from each of the teams, believes that the changes could increase the safety risk for drivers.

"The F1 Technical Working Group," they say, "argued that the following changes being proposed by the FIA have serious implications for safety."

They argue that the changes reduce the time available for teams to carry out detailed checks between qualifying and racing from 18.5 hours to 2.5 hours and the elimination of telemetry means that teams cannot monitor the cars for any serious defects that occur during the race.

"The FIA is trying to "dumb down" Formula 1," says McLaren's Ron Dennis. "It has introduced sweeping new regulations for the 2003 season without proper consultation with the teams. We want Formula 1 to be stable, well-run and professionally administered to ensure the continued success of the sport. There is no doubt that Formula 1 needs to change and evolve and McLaren and WilliamsF1 have always played a constructive role in initiating and supporting positive measures to improve our sport. Sensible proposals are already on the table. At a meeting on 4th December 2002, the Formula 1 Teams agreed to introduce a range of measures that would have reduced costs and given the smaller teams the necessary support to ensure their participation for the whole of the 2003 season. These measures included the prohibition of qualifying cars, an acceptance of standard materials and equipment and an arrangement with a number of manufacturers to supply low cost engines to the independent teams."

Frank Williams argues that "some of these changes are against the spirit of Formula 1, its restless drive for excellence and its need to live on the technological cutting edge. We believe that the FIA are taking an unnecessarily pessimistic view of the future of Formula 1. The FIA's proposals will remove and destroy many aspects and facets of our sport that have helped it prosper and thrive in the last 20 years. They are damaging to the very nature of Formula F1 and limit its differentiation from other forms of motor sport. It is misleading to suggest that Formula 1 is in crisis - it remains a uniquely popular and highly successful sport. Unfortunately, only a fraction of those revenues generated by Formula 1 remain in the sport and go to the teams. Addressing this issue is the surest way of delivering stable and successful independent teams."