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FIA changes 
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1 - 21 January 2003 News  
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21 Jan: Following two meetings with the teams' directors, the FIA's Technical Working Group have softened the new rules announced on the 15th of January. Among the major changes, radio communication will not be banned but restricted. Car to pit telemetry will remain this season and the spare car will be allowed if the race car is damaged beyond repair. The Technical Working Group also announced that Traction Control and fully automatic gearboxes will be banned from the 2003 British Grand Prix onwards. The proposed standard ECU will not be necessary as new technology and extra sensors will ensure that Traction Control isn't used. The FIA release read:

Since its meeting with the Formula One team principals on 15 January, the FIA has held two meetings with the teams’ technical directors. Today, at the second of these meetings, independent electronics experts and the teams’ own electronics specialists were present. After discussion of the financial and other effects of the measures announced on 15 January, the FIA informed the teams it intended to implement these measures as follows: 

  • pit to car telemetry - eliminated with immediate effect; 

  • car to pit telemetry - eliminated from 2004 and a standard data logger introduced at the same time (immediate implementation would not save money because the limiting factor is the data acquisition system. This cannot be eliminated from a car in the short term); 

  • radio communication between team and driver to be allowed provided 

  1. the system is stand-alone and cannot transmit other data and 

  2. the communications are open and accessible to the FIA and broadcasters. 
    The possibility of a standard system accessible to the public at a Grand Prix is being explored; 

  • a third car will only be used if a race car is damaged beyond repair. If a race car fails just before the start, any spare car will start from the pit lane, as will a spare car used following a race stoppage in the first two laps; 

  • cars will be held under parc fermé conditions between qualifying and the race, but can be kept in a team’s garage under supervision. Any work other than a very restricted list will require special authorisation; 

  • traction control and automatic gearboxes will no longer be allowed from half way through the season - ie from the 2003 British Grand Prix; 

  • launch control will end at the same time provided the teams can all operate their current clutches manually; 

  • following today’s meeting the FIA is satisfied that the absence of traction control, launch control and fully automatic gearboxes can be proved using a combination of new technology and extra (FIA) sensors. Software inspection remains available to the FIA as a back-up if needed. It will therefore not be necessary to introduce a standard ECU in 2004. 

Other items remain as in the press release of 15 January 2003.

Full Press release from the FIA (in pdf) 

19 Jan: Your Say: "Your thoughts on the cost cutting measures by the FIA"

15 Jan: Following a failure by the teams to agree on any cost cutting measure, the FIA decided to introduce new measures without their agreement. The measures include the elimination of two-way telemetry, radio communication and the use of the spare car. Traction control, launch control and automatic gearboxes will all be eliminated at most by 2004. The FIA also outlined further plans for the following seasons. The FIA release read:

Despite the disappearance of two Formula One teams in the past twelve months, nothing has been done to save money. Last October, the Formula One teams rejected all the FIA’s cost-saving proposals. The teams themselves have had several meetings, but produced nothing.

The FIA therefore invited the teams to a meeting at Heathrow Airport today and informed them that in order to reduce costs and improve the racing it will rigorously apply existing rules from the start of the coming season, in order to

  • eliminate pit to car telemetry;
  • eliminate car to pit telemetry;
  • eliminate all radio communication between team and driver;
  • allow only two cars per team (ie no spare car);
  • place cars in parc fermé between final qualifying and the race (teams will be unable to work on them, except under strict supervision);
  • eliminate traction control, launch control and fully automatic gearboxes (possible derogation for all or part of 2003 to be followed by absolute enforcement in 2004, if necessary by means of standard electronic control units);

and that the FIA will also

  • allow teams to use common components;

and that it intends to introduce sporting rules for 2004 which will

  • require the use of a standard braking system;
  • require the use of a standard rear wing;
  • require the use of long-life components;
  • ensure that car manufacturers involved in Formula One supply engines to all competing teams;

and that for 2005 it intends to bring in further sporting rules to require

  • engine life to be extended from one to two races;
  • a further extension to the life of major components;
  • new penalties for engine or component changes outside permitted times;

and that for 2006 it intends to bring in a further sporting rule to require

  • engine life to be extended to six races;

and that it will seek the agreement of the teams to introduce a new technical regulation to

  • eliminate the use of expensive exotic materials in any part of the car, including the engine.

Full Press release from the FIA 
Click here for an explanatory note from the FIA regarding these changes

14 Jan: B.A.R Honda became the second team to launch their 2003 contender. Launched in Barcelona, the BAR Honda 005 is significantly smaller, lighter, has a lower centre of gravity and is more aerodynamically efficient than its 004 predecessor. The team is optimistic that the 005 will move them up the field to compete at the front.
Team Principal David Richards said "This will be a challenging year for B.A.R but we have made a substantial step forward over the winter. Together with our partners Lucky Strike, Honda and Bridgestone, I am confident that we will make significant progress towards our long-term target of winning the World Championship. None of the other teams have been standing still though, so we will need to stretch ourselves throughout the entire season to achieve our goal.
With a much improved car, Jacques will now be able to demonstrate his extraordinary talent, while Jenson, with three seasons under his belt, is well positioned to challenge the front runners. Together with our third driver, Takuma Sato, I feel B.A.R now has a driver line-up that is the match of any in Formula One."
Technical Director Geoff Willis
said "We want to compete for the top three positions in 2003.  Our target is to finish every race -- regularly being in the points and being on the podium as often as we can. We are very confident it's going to be a substantially better car and a substantially better package of engine and chassis together. We have set new performance targets when designing the car for weight reduction, stiffness, aerodynamic efficiency and engine performance all aimed at helping us to compete with those at the front of the grid."
Honda's F1 project leader Takeo Kiuchi said "In 2003 we want to start the season competitively. The RA003E is lighter than last year's engine and the torque curve is improved, too. Our target is to get into a position to fight for the world title as soon as possible. In short, Honda is committed to B.A.R, to Formula 1 and to winning."
Jacques Villeneuve
said "For the first time we should be competitive. I've never lost motivation and have always given my maximum but the past four years have been hard. However looking at the technical figures and knowing Honda has done some promising work, I believe this car will be a big leap forward. 
I don't think we will be able to fight against Ferrari – unless they make a worse car and that's unlikely to happen - but the aim is to start fighting against everybody else."
Jenson Button said "We won't know exactly where we are until we've done a couple of weeks testing on the track but, believe me, it's going to be a big step forward. The differences between this year's and last year's cars are huge, so that's very positive.
This car is clearly a big move in the right direction and everyone is very, very positive about our progress. However the next evolution in 2004 is going to be even more exciting and it's then that we'll be in a position to start challenging Ferrari."

Click here for the 2003 Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda page  

9 Jan: Minardi confirmed today that Dutchman Jos Verstappen will partner Justin Wilson for the 2003 Formula 1 season. Verstappen last drove in Formula 1 for the Arrows team in the 2001 season but was replaced at the start of the 2002 season by Heinz Harald Frentzen. 
Jos Verstappen was delighted to be back and said "I am very pleased to be back in Formula One and to have signed to drive for Minardi in 2003. Up and down the pit lane, it has always been known that Minardi builds good cars and is a strong little team that has only been prevented from achieving its full potential over the years by a lack of sponsorship. I am really impressed with Paul Stoddart’s plans for the team and by this year’s technical package, which looks strong to me. I have been around Formula One long enough, however, to know better than to make extravagant claims about a team’s competitiveness before a new season begins. All I can say is that I like what I see at Minardi and I am going to do my best for the team in 2003. I’m really looking forward to it."
Team boss Paul Stoddart said "This is extremely good news. The combination of Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson will, I believe, give Minardi the strongest driver line-up in its history. The two of them will provide just the right blend of youth and experience, and combined with an effective chassis and Cosworth Racing’s powerful CR3 engine, we will definitely have a much stronger package than in 2002. Until we get to the first Grand Prix, in Melbourne, it’s impossible to know to what degree the other teams will have improved over the winter and how we’ll compare with them. Even so, I’d like to think that Minardi could be the ‘breakthrough team’ of 2003."

Click here for the 2003 Team and Driver Line-up  

8 Jan: The Toyota Racing team becomes the first of the teams to launch their 2003 contender at Circuit Paul Ricard in the South of France. Toyota finished 10th in the Constructors' Championship last season - their debut season - and this year they are hoping to make a big step forward. Toyota have signed Frenchman Olivier Panis and Brazilian Cristiano da Matta as their drivers as well as Brazilian Ricardo Zonta as their test driver.
Team Principal Ove Andersson said "I would like to see us challenging competitively for points on a regular basis in 2003. It is an ambitious target, but we have to aim high this year because we are no longer the new kids on the block. It is what everyone expects from Toyota as the world's third largest car manufacturer and we will do our utmost to achieve this goal."
Chief Designer Gustav Brunner said "We have made gains with this car in every area. I hope that we have come up with a good compromise between building a fast car, but also a reliable one. That is the challenge in Formula 1."
Olivier Panis said "I have been incredibly impressed with what I have found at Panasonic Toyota Racing. All the basic ingredients are in place for the team to make a big jump up the grid in 2003, but for me to comment further on how much progress we can make, I need to test the new car. Even then we will have to wait until Melbourne to discover where we are in relation to our competitors."
Cristiano da Matta said "I achieved one dream by winning the CART championship in 2002. Now I have the fresh challenge of Formula 1. I don't want to make any predictions just yet, but driving in F1 is fantastic and, while F1 cars are similar to what I'm used to in the slow-speed corners, they are much faster in the quick corners."

Click here for the 2003 Panasonic Toyota Racing page  

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