Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report

Traction Control Clears Final Hurdle

Friday February 23rd, 2001

Formula One's ruling body announced on Friday that traction control and other banned electronic systems would be allowed back from the Spanish Grand Prix in late April.

The season starts in Australia on March 4 and the rule changes do not apply to the first four races.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that, "with the unanimous agreement of the competing teams", the World Motor Sport Council had approved a list of changes to the Formula One regulations.

"A number of engine control parameters will no longer be restricted," the statement said in a section detailing changes to come into effect from April 16, 2001.

"These include: Throttle, ignition and fuel settings, thus permitting the use of a traction control system."

Traction control and other so-called electronic "driver aids" have been banned in Formula One since the end of the 1993 season amid concern that individual driver flair was being reduced by the computers.

However the FIA was unable to police the ban effectively.

FIA president Max Mosley was quoted on Friday as saying he remained opposed to traction control but "it was impossible to be certain that teams were respecting the rules.

"Last year in some races one or two teams broke the rules. That was something we could not permit," Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper quoted him as saying.

Other Changes

The FIA said new safety measures would be introduced from January 1, 2002 and 2003, including what it called "intelligent speed limits". The list included:

  • A driver start abort system (2002)

  • A system to warn teams and drivers that a variable speed limit will be enforced on certain parts of the track, replacing the current use of yellow warning flags waved by trackside marshals (2002).

  • A collision warning system (2003)

  • A system to replace the current use of the safety car, capable of warning teams and the drivers of a speed limit imposed on the whole track (2003).

  • Bigger rear view mirrors (2002)

    The FIA said variable speed limits would depend on the layout of the circuit at the accident site and the degree of risk to track workers.

    "It will be decided by the race director and communicated electronically to each driver in the relevant area. Cars will be equipped with means to help drivers to run just under the limit.

    "Cars exceeding the limit will be detected and given a stop-go penalty."

    As well as traction control, other rule changes to be introduced for this year's Spanish Grand Prix include the use of fully automatic gear changes and, with the exception of any system which is capable of transferring or diverting torque from a slower to a faster rotating wheel, differential control will now be free.

    However, the FIA spelt out areas where the use of electronics remained outlawed, such as the use of any system capable of locking onto the start lights and launching the car the moment they changed.

    Computer controlled brakes and steering are banned, with power assisted steering allowed for 2001 only.

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