Initial support for new regulations

Team bosses have met the changes to qualifying, the points system and testing schedules announced by the Formula One Commission with guarded optimism. Qualifying will now be spread over two days and drivers will have one flying lap per day while...

Team bosses have met the changes to qualifying, the points system and testing schedules announced by the Formula One Commission with guarded optimism. Qualifying will now be spread over two days and drivers will have one flying lap per day while the points system has been extended to cover the first eight finishing drivers rather than the usual six.

"I believe personally that it is everything that is needed but we will have to wait for the middle of next season to see what effect it's really had," said British American Racing boss David Richards according to Reuters. "I suggest that next season is probably going to be vintage Formula One again."

The new testing regulations rest on teams' agreement to not do more than ten days testing during the season. If this agreement is reached by December 15th, two hours testing on a Friday of a race weekend will be allowed and prior to qualifying.

"It's very interesting, it's a new concept," said Eddie Jordan. "Of course, it's a balance. Is there enough time to test in the pre-season to do the amount of things that you want to do? It is a fair option to see whether you want to take the full testing or the Friday and at the moment I haven't decided."

Minardi's Paul Stoddart is all for the changes, saying commercially it could help the smaller teams: "I think the proposals are good for the sport, he said. "Certainly we're going to liven up both practice on Friday and qualifying on Saturday. They will do what we want to do which is to improve the show to the people. And I think there is a little bit of help in there for the smaller teams."

"For a team like us, we would like to run in a host nation one of that country's drivers. If that driver had a sponsor it would be a straight commercial business, we need money and it's a good way of earning it. In the United States for example, I would have run both (U.S. drivers) Townsend Bell and Bryan Herta on a Friday morning. The interest that would have created at the U.S. Grand Prix would have directly translated on Friday and Saturday into gate attendance and interest."

Jaguar boss Niki Lauda was pleased about team orders being prohibited: "The team orders are gone which is the most important thing," he said. Mercedes' director Norbert Haug approved: "The one-lap qualification promises a great deal of drama. We salute the changes."

BMW motorsport director Gerhard Berger thinks the new points system is better: "I'm happy that drivers swapping cars and a weight handicap aren't going to happen," said the Austrian. "The adopted measures are sensible, but we'll have to see how they work in practice. For instance the weather and state of the track are going to play a huge role in qualifying. But the new distribution of points makes sense, it will increase the number of teams who can score points."

The proposals of driver swapping and weight ballast were never likely to be accepted, although some team bosses had said they would agree to a weights system if it was the only way. It seems that the changes decided upon have been accepted without too much argument.

"Formula One has today made some very, very important decisions about its future," Stoddart remarked. "They have been done in the right spirit of promoting a great sport to be even greater."

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Jordan , Gerhard Berger , Bryan Herta , Norbert Haug , Niki Lauda , Paul Stoddart , David Richards
Teams Mercedes , British American Racing , Minardi , Jordan