FIA trades traction control for 'one-engine' rule

In a statement on Friday on its six-hour meeting on Tuesday with the teams, covering all the controversial 2004 F1 Technical Regulations including 'driver-aids', the FIA confirmed that fully automatic gearboxes, launch control and pit-car telemetry will be prohibited as planned. However traction control and car-pit telemetry will continue. In return, the engine suppliers have agreed to the 'one-engine' rule and have all undertaken to supply 'customer' teams at "affordable cost"

FIA trades traction control for 'one-engine' rule

The engine suppliers convinced the FIA that, not only would a traction control ban be almost impossible to police, but competitive forces would compel them to invest in potentially very expensive mechanical methods of replicating the existing electronic technology.

In return, the engine suppliers have all committed to supplying fully equipped engines next season to the smaller teams at "affordable cost" (said to be about US$10m per season). They have also agreed to build these engines to endure for each entire three-day race meeting: any car whose engine is changed will be moved 10 places towards the back of the starting grid. This being the case, the FIA has in turn agreed to withdraw its proposal for 'multi-race' engines in 2005-06.

Pit-car telemetry will be banned in 2004, but the teams convinced the FIA that the benefits of car-pit systems outweigh the costs, and they will stay. Radio systems must be standalone and unable to transmit data, and all voice transmissions will be made available to the FIA and, through the commercial rights holder, the public.

Following track tests, new bodywork regulations will be drafted by the end of this season for introduction in 2006. In the meantime, interim changes to the engine covers and rear wings will be implemented in 2004-05, including the use of two upper rear wing elements. The FIA has invited suggestions for alternatives to its proposal for a 'standard' rear wing that would provide the racecars with 'Monza' (low) levels of downforce and 'Interlagos' (high) levels of drag. It will also ask the Technical Working Group to come up with an alternative to the existing sidepod 'winglets'.

In view of the chaos in the rain at Interlagos last month, Bridgestone and Michelin will each be asked to make available a 'monsoon' treaded tyre, which must be used when ordered by the race director. A specification of such an extreme wet-weather tyre will be included in the 2004 regulations.

The Technical Working Group will be asked to draft specifications for 'control' brake friction materials and skidblock materials, which will be used by the FIA to invite tenders from 2004 suppliers.

Detail alterations to the rules governing spare cars were also agreed at last week's meeting.

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