Pit windows scrapped

The Champ Car World Series has opted for a back-to-basics approach to its pit stop regulations for the 2005 season, after several years of almost constant alteration to the rules

Pit windows scrapped

Mandatory pit windows will be abolished this year, and there will no longer be a requirement to automatically change all four tyres at each pit stop. Another significant change will be the closure of the pit lane as soon as a full course yellow is called. The pits will then be reopened once the field is aligned behind the pace car.

Prior to this move there were concerns over the safety implications of drivers racing back to the pit lane when the track was potentially obstructed.

"Once we have a full-course caution, all racing ceases," said the series' new vice-president of operations Tony Cotman. "We want to give the Safety Team every opportunity to do their job safely."

Pit windows were introduced at the start of 2002 after a number of anomalous race results caused by drivers deliberately conserving fuel and then making up places by not pitting. The most notable was Max Papis' win at Laguna Seca in 2001, when he came from 25th on the grid to first but only overtook one car on track. The rules have regularly been altered since then, including a period when cars had to make a minimum number of pit stops under green flag racing conditions, but many felt that these regulations were making the racing more confusing and contrived, to the detriment of the on-track spectacle. Cotman hopes that a simplification of the system in 2005 will resolve this, and said that he sees nothing wrong with races occasionally being decided by quirks of strategy.

"The goal is to take it out of the hands of the officials and put the onus back on the teams," he said. "There's definitely more than one way to win a race, and we want to leave it up to our teams to find the best way for them to get to the front."

Other rule changes announced on Monday include the shortening of Friday and Saturday morning practice sessions in the hope of encouraging teams to spend more time on track and less in the pits, and a change to the way that pit spaces are allocated. The order on pit lane will now be decided according to the results of the previous race rather than the previous qualifying order.

The rule that allowed unlimited qualifying laps in wet conditions has also been abolished. Drivers now have just 15 laps to set a time regardless of the weather.

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