The FIA and driver aids

The FIA has informed the Formula 1 teams that launch control, traction control and fully-automatic gearboxes are not going to be properly policed until the start of the 2004 season because the technical devices which are needed to ensure that driver aids are not being used requires substantial investment, which the FIA is unwilling to make until the arbitration proceedings have been resolved.

The FIA has not said that driver aids will be allowed but has indicated that "full enforcement of the long-established ban on in-car driver aids will be delayed until the first race of the 2004 season".

The announcement is interesting as it comes two days after a meeting between Max Mosley and the two men who are taking the FIA to arbitration: McLaren's Ron Dennis and Sir Frank Williams. It is not clear whether the change of heart is related to the meeting or whether the FIA really feels that it cannot afford to invest in the technology. Our sources say that the systems needed will cost the federation about $1m.

The thing that does not make sense is that the arbitration hearings will probably not take place for at least another year and so fears of legal bills would seem to be a little premature. If there is a hidden agenda in the FIA decision, however, it is not clear what it is.

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