Third car rule may be amended

A potential loophole that could give McLaren or Williams a significant advantage in 2005 is likely to be closed

Third car rule may be amended

The rule that allows those teams outside the top four in the constructors championship to run a third car on Friday mornings, was designed to allow F1's smaller teams, those without meaningful testing budgets, to collate more information on a race weekend as well as the opportunity to generate additional revenue if possible.

At the time of its introduction, it was not envisaged that the opportunity would be open to one of the ultra big-budget front-running teams but, this year, advances by Renault and BAR and corresponding under-performance from Williams and McLaren means that one of the heavy-hitting British teams will almost inevitably finish fifth in the constructors championship.

The relevant rule is a sporting regulation, however, which could be amended with an 80 percent majority among the teams, and neither Williams nor McLaren expects that it will be allowed to run a third car next year. An amendment to the rule is widely anticipates, with FIA president Max Mosley admitting at Monza that it is an anomaly that needs to be looked into.

"I would be very surprised if it happened," said McLaren boss Ron Dennis at Monza. "It was really never designed for any of the top teams to gain an advantage. If, suddenly, no team who has won the constructors' championship in
the last ten years is allowed to do it, then you supplement the regulation
and it's voted through - obviously there are only two people who are going to vote against it. It's pretty simple how it's going to unfold."

Both Williams and McLaren have dismissed the idea that they would deliberately try to finish fifth instead of fourth. At the moment Williams is five points clear of the increasingly competitive McLaren outfit.

"We want to be fourth or higher, irrespective," Dennis said.

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