Wednesday February 7th, 2001
McLaren boss Ron Dennis has accused Ferrari of hypocrisy at claims that Ferrari are fully supporting the freeing of electronic systems in Formula One, which will see the return of traction control.
These changes are expected to take place at the Spanish Grand Prix, the fifth round of the season, but could have been introduced at the start of the season, had it not been blocked by Ferrari and teams linked with them at the meeting, despite Ferrari saying earlier that they agreed to the changes.
Teams want the return of traction control after last year the FIA confirmed suspicions that at least one team had used a form of traction control in recent seasons.
"Adopting increased electronic freedom will eliminate the suspicions that some teams had over the performance of others," said Dennis.
"We have been pushing for the re-introduction of traction control for years.
"Only one team prevented it being introduced at the beginning of the season."
Dennis said that Ferrari were "a bit hypocritical" since the other teams wanted the system back from the start of the season.
"It is to be hoped that the FIA (International Automobile Federation) will be very vigilant in those first races because they could determine the outcome of the world championship.
"It is in everybody's interest that we have a very clean and uncontentious first three grands prix."
"The only problem is (concerning) the first grands prix -- how extensive is the checking going to be and how much risk are people going to take with regards to interpreting the regulations within that period?" asked Dennis.
"I think we are going to have some very contentious post-race scrutineering. It's inevitable but it's not a concern if we're not involved.
"I personally think it would be better if we had started and stayed with one rule or another," he said.
Dennis said he did not think Formula One would be any less spectacular or the drivers' performances evened out by the adoption of traction control.
"In the end the quickest drivers are still going to be quick and I think it's great to eliminate the suspicion and concern that we've had."
Williams technical director Patrick Head and Michelin motorsport boss Pierre Dupasquier have recently aired concern about tyre wear.
Michelin are returning to the sport and are concerned that the lack of clear rules on excessive tyre wear could lead to the mandatory grooved tyres being worn smooth and then ruled illegal after the finish.
"I share the views of several engineers, (McLaren's) Adrian (Newey) and Patrick Head and others, that we are potentially going to have a conflict over the condition of tyres," said Dennis.
"We would all like a little more clarity on that."
He said Melbourne, which hosts the first race on March 4, was a circuit that was used just once a year and could raise an immediate problem.
"I think the tyre wear there is going to be difficult to predict," he warned.
"If you go conservative then you're going to be slow. If you go racy on tyre choice then you're going to stand the chance of having tyres that are marginal."