Saturday May 26th, 2001
By Alan Baldwin
Formula One's ruling body is still monitoring rising cornering speeds at Grands Prix but there is no need for a hasty reaction, FIA president Max Mosley said on Saturday.
"The cornering speed issue has become increasingly complex," Mosley told a news conference at the Monaco Grand Prix. "We've seen here they are going already more than a second quicker than pole position last year and we've seen this on some circuits more than others.
"All this has led us now to do a detailed investigation into cornering speeds in general but in particular into those corners on the circuits where the vertical impact against the barrier in the event of an accident is potentially dangerous."
Mosley said in March after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix that he was concerned that Formula One cars were going faster than had been expected following the introduction of new aerodynamic regulations. He said then that the FIA must move quickly if the data from other races backed up the findings from Melbourne.
In Monaco, David Coulthard's pole time on Saturday was the fastest lap ever at the circuit and his McLaren was more than two seconds quicker than last year's Ferrari had been. A tyre war, with Michelin returning to the Formula One fray, and the return of wheelspin-eliminating electronic systems such as traction control have been blamed for the faster times.
Mosley said the investigation would tell the FIA which corners were particularly dangerous. "We've got far more information available now than we ever had before because of the black boxes, the data recorders which are fixed to the cars, we are acquiring more information constantly."
"The fundamental position at the moment seems to be there is no need for panic. On the other hand, quite clearly we are getting an increase in performance and we must address this," said Mosley. "But the feeling that all of our technical and safety people have is that we must be quite sure we know exactly what the problem is before we try to solve it.
"If it becomes necessary to do something, we will then do this in consultation with the teams. We would only start to do anything dramatic if we couldn't reach agreement."
He was confident however that agreement could be reached.
Traction control was reintroduced at the Spanish Grand Prix last month after the FIA admitted the hi-tech electronic systems could not be effectively policed. There had been numerous, unproven, allegations of teams cheating with software in the past.
Mosley said the fact that so many teams had experienced problems with the so-called launch control systems that enable drivers to make a smoother and quicker getaway at the start was encouraging from one perspective at least. "The really interesting thing is that we had all the top teams coming to us regularly complaining that the other top teams obviously had launch control. But now we've freed it up, it's quite evident that everyone was suspicious of everyone else but none of them had it because every single team has had problems with it.
"The same thing is true of traction control. It's actually quite comforting to see how many problems they are having with these sort of systems." The systems have been in the spotlight in Monaco after four cars stalled on the grid at the last race in Austria, leading to fears that any repeat could prove disastrous in Monaco's cramped conditions. Mosley said he was optimistic there would be no problems on Sunday.