CART moves ever closer to F1

The CART franchise board is continuing to change its rules to make its Champ Car World Series more flexible in the future. The new rules include the elimination of the mandatory pit window that was introduced last year which meant that cars had to pit within a specific number of laps. This was designed to avoid races being decided on fuel economy. The board has left open the possibility of the rule still being applied at the larger ovals.

There are also changes to the pace car rules with lapped cars in future having to move over and drop behind those on the lead lap (if the yellow flag is in the last 10 laps of the race). This avoids the possibility of the outcome of a race being affected by backmarkers.

CART is also bringing in cost-cutting measures, which sound similar in many respects to those tried in F1. Teams will nominate a lead car and are not allowed to run a spare unless that first car is damaged beyond repair. If the spare car is needed at any time after qualifying, the car will start the race at the rear of the field. For 2004 there is a restriction on the number of people teams can bring with them to races with a maximum of 15 working crew members per car, not including marketing and PR staff. Third shock absorbers are to be banned and only mechanical differentials will be allowed. There is also going to be an aerodynamic freeze on the cars for the next two years, beginning in the middle of May. This move will eliminate the need for chassis update kits.

It is worth noting that the rules continue the current CART trend to moving towards the F1 regulations - which may or may not be significant, depending on whether or not F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone buys CART.

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