Fastest laps consigned to history

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This weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza will be the fastest race in the history of Formula 1. Barring rain or a prolonged safety car period, the winner’s average speed for the 53 lap race will be faster than the 154mph set by Michael Schumacher at Monza last season. At most tracks this season the cars have been around 2 seconds per lap faster than last year so it could be significantly faster. And therein lies the reason why Sunday’s record is unlikely ever to be beaten.

The FIA, concerned at the rise in speeds in Formula 1 in is the process of slowing the cars down by as much as 7 seconds per lap. FIA president Max Mosley said on Friday in Monza that the cars were now dangerously fast and a package of new rules, restricting the engine, tyres and aerodynamics will be voted through next month. Although the designers traditionally claw back the lost downforce and horsepower, the FIA will in future keep a tighter rein on the speeds, leaving Sunday’s race untouched in the history books.

In the Concorde Agreement, to which the FIA, the teams and the commercial rights holder are all signatories, technical changes such as these require unanimous support from the teams. This has proved impossible to achieve and so Mosley is pushing through the rule changes using clauses which allow restrictions on safety grounds. The teams have been presented with three different packages of rules and they have to choose one by the end of October. Negotiations are running in parallel, which may see elements of the three packages blended together.

In practical terms the biggest change will be to the engines, which will become far less sophisticated and less powerful. They will have to last for two race weekends in 2005 and in 2006 a new engine formula of 2.4 litre V8 engines will be imposed. Three manufacturers remain implacably opposed to this; BMW, Mercedes and Honda. They have threatened to take the FIA to arbitration. Mosley is determined to push the changes through, partly for safety reasons but also to keep the costs down for the privateer teams, such as Jordan, Sauber and Minardi, who have to purchase engines from the manufacturers.

’We are trying to make sure that no matter how much money someone spends they will not have a significant power advantage over anyone else,’ said Mosley.

But it is no coincidence that the engine makers are being hit the hardest in this rules shake up, as they have been threatening to breakaway from F1 in 2008 to start their own series, the GPWC. The manufacturers want the teams to receive a greater share of the sport’s commercial revenues, most of which currently go to Bernie Ecclestone.

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