APRIL 8, 2004
FIA looking at rule changes this season
The FIA President Max Mosley has told the Reuters newsagency that the federation is worried about the speed of the Formula 1 cars and could act to slow them down. Mosley said that according to the Concorde Agreement this could be done in the course of the current season on the grounds of safety.
"We are looking very carefully at possibly using powers that we have under the Concorde Agreement to reduce the performance of the cars," Mosley said. "If we conclude that the cars are too fast, then we can give notice to the teams under the Concorde Agreement which requires the technical working group to come up with proposals for slowing the cars and they have to do that within a limited time. If they don't come up with the proposals, we have the right to impose something."
Although the Concorde Agreement is a secret document it is our understanding that the teams have two months to come up with ideas before the FIA is allowed to act. The chances of the teams all agreeing to anything is, of course, highly unlikely.
The quickest and easiest way to reduce the cornering speeds of the cars would be to increase the thickness of the underfloor "plank" which is bolted to the bottom of the cars to stop them running close to the ground. This would involve only changing one number in the regulations. This would mean that teams would need to look again at heir aerodynamic performance and almost certainly rethink their suspension geometries. Another method of slowing the cars would be to insist on a change of the tyre regulations with an increase in the number of grooves. This would not be popular with the tyre companies which would need to create new moulds. The most extreme form of change - which would not really be possible in the course of a season - would be to reduce the engine capacity. There appear to be plans for this to happen in 2006 with a new 2.4-litre V8 idea having been discussed. Back in 1994, in the wake of Ayrton Senna's accident at Imola, the FIA did insist that engines be reduced from 3.5-litre units to 3.0-litres but this was not introduced until the end of the year.
If the Technical Working Group does not come up with a suitable solution, the FIA can give them three alternative packages of measures and they must choose one.
The FIA can justify the need to cut speeds by looking at the lap times this year but there are bound to be cynics in F1 who will look at the situation and suggest that this could be viewed as an attempt by the governing body to throw the cat among the pigeons and shake up the sport to stop Ferrari's domination.
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