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Formula One: New rules.

Byline: Scott PIECHA

FORMULA ONE was turned into a procession last year as Michael Schumacher ran away with the title in record time.

Ferrari hardly broke sweat as they cleaned up both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships.

This brought together Bernie Ecclestone, the "Godfather' of F1, and FIA president Max Mosley to restructure the rules.

And this is what they came up with:

Optional extra two hours Friday testing.

Teams having to start the race with whatever fuel they finish qualifying with.

Banning of driver aids by Silverstone in July.

So far Renault, Minardi, Jaguar and Jordan have signed up for the extra two hours of testing on a Friday, which limits their testing throughout the year.

Only 10 extra days can be spent by these teams during the season away from a race weekend.

The likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Williams have opted for unlimited testing with their virtually unlimited budgets - but don't think this will give them an immediate advantage.

At certain tracks, such as Monaco, Ross Brawn and Frank Williams may be wishing they had given more thought to those extra hours on a Friday.

The rule change that will cause the most controversy is making the teams start the race with only the fuel with which they finished qualifying.

No-one knows what effect this change will have but one thing is certain - it won't save money or alter the race result.

What it will do is remove some of the excitement because qualifying will become a matter of tactics between the teams rather than who can go the fastest.

The spectators want to see records being broken and cars pushed to the limit.

But the change every fan looks forward to is the banning of driver aids. At last we'll see what the drivers can do and not how well the car can drive itself.

Using super gizmos like traction control and launch control, about the most difficult thing the driver has to do is turn the wheel.

Silverstone is the cut-off point for driver aids and then we'll see more wheel-to-wheel racing and who has the bottle to push the car that little bit faster.

Driver aids allow you to punch the accelerator and throw the car around the track.

But not at Silverstone this year. Punch the accelerator at the wrong time and the back wheels will spin and the driver will lose control.

The sooner Silverstone comes the better - then we'll see Schumacher make the rest of the grid eat his dust.

Or will he bite the dust?
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2003
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