FEBRUARY 21, 2003
Is safety a good argument?
Safety is clearly a subject about which Ron Dennis and Frank Williams feel strongly, as over the years both have had to deal with difficult situations resulting from accidents which have befallen their drivers. Safety is a major part of the pair's challenge to the FIA's reinterpretation of the Formula 1 rules. Dennis says that there is not enough time for the cars to be prepared properly and that the loss of telemetry will reduce the opportunity to spot problems before they happen.
At the same time, however, the argument that the teams need more time to prepare their cars in safety is not a very strong argument. The rules in recent years have allowed four hours between the warm-up and the start of the race. This was specifically designed to allow teams to repair cars if they were badly crashed in the warm-up. It is not yet clear exactly how much time will be available to the teams between qualifying and the race but as far as we understand it there will be six hours between the time the cars are released from parc ferme on Sunday morning until the start of the race. In this time cars can be repaired if the team has the permission of the FIA technical delegate.
The argument is also somewhat undermined by the knowledge that Formula 1 teams pride themselves on their ability to work miracles and to do things quickly and safely. There are a large number of examples of teams which have completely rebuilt cars and sent them racing in less than three hours. These traditionally have involved accidents which take place in the Sunday morning warm-up or in the morning sessions on qualifying days. These abilities have been particularly important in recent years when spare cars have not been allowed in free practice sessions.
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