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F1 opts for radical changes


F1 bosses ordered a radical technical shake-up of the world championship in mid-January in the latest move aimed at cutting costs and boosting flagging interest in the sport.

In a meeting of the sport's world governing body on 15th January, the FIA, it was decided that all cars will be shifted out of reach of teams between final qualifying and the race, radio communication between a team and its drivers will be banned and telemetry will also be outlawed.

Further changes, to be introduced at the start of the coming season, will see each team limited to just two cars with no facility for a spare car and controversial driver aids will also be outlawed.

These include an eventual end in 2004 to the use of traction control, launch control as well as fully automatic gearboxes.

The decision to impound all cars at parc ferme between final qualifying and the race will mean that teams will be unable to work upon them except under strict supervision.

"We have gone over to zero tolerance," FIA president Max Mosley told the BBC. "We could have probably been more insistent last season so now we decided we would impose the regulations to the letter."

The changes were announced the day after the Arrows team lost its marathon survival battle and was placed in liquidation after 24 years in the sport. Arrows faced the end of the road when a judge here agreed to a winding-up order from former driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who has claimed he is owed money from his time behind the wheel last season.

The departure of Arrows from the championship followed the closure of the Prost team earlier in 2002.

Team chief Eddie Jordan, who had to cut around 15-percent of his workforce last year to trim budgets, said he welcomed the changes. "This was the most positive day in my Formula One career as there was total unanimity between all parties involved concerning cost savings which are enormously beneficial to the sport," said Jordan.

"Everyone has come to realise that the show is the most important element and we have restructured Formula One accordingly in a way which is good for everyone, including Jordan. I'm really looking forward to going racing again."

Wednesday's meeting of the FIA issued a statement condemning the lack of progress in cutting the spiralling costs of the sport which saw many of its fans quit in droves last season when Michael Schumacher and Ferrari dominated the championship so much so that it became a dull procession.

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

The meeting also decided that, from the 2004 season, new rules will be introduced to ensure that manufacturers supply engines to all competing teams. From 2005, they insist that the life of an engine be extended from one to two races and to six races from 2006.


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