MARCH 25, 1996
Forget the cockpit crisis
THE rules about F1 cockpits are not going to be changed - and that is bad news for Benetton, McLaren and Ferrari which will now have to modify their existing machinery.
Engineers from the three teams have been complaining that the lower cockpit surrounds seen on the Williams, Jordan and Tyrrell cars are illegal, but the FIA has ruled that this is not the case and that Williams, Jordan and Tyrrell had simply read the rule book more carefully and taken advantage of it to build cars which are better aerodynamically than the high-sided Benetton, Ferrari and McLaren.
It will take about a month to have these cars modified but this means that teams will have to disrupt their production schedules to allow for the extra work to be done, meaning that other development work will have to be delayed and so the teams will drop behind the constant race to keep up with - or catch - the frontrunners.
It is this fact which has upset the engineers more than anything because changing the cockpit surrounds will, in effect, compromise their competitiveness for the entire F1 season.
Next year it is likely that designers will read the regulations a little more closely...