Atlas F1 Laying Down the Law

  by Forrest Bond, RaceFax

The FIA thinks it has discovered electronic cheating in F1, and also believes it has found a way to stop it. Forrest Bond of RaceFax provides the complete text of the FIA fax which notified the teams what changes must be made by Silverstone, the relevant technical regulations and a brief look at what has led to this point


On April 7th, during the San Marino Grand Prix, FIA president Max Mosley went before the racing press. Among other issues, Mosley confirmed what had been rumored for several days. At least one Formula One team had, in the view of the FIA, been found to be running its cars during the 1999 season with computer controls - so called driver aids - which violated what was intended to be a ban on such controls.

In an attempt to stop the practice, Mosley said he intended to immediately tighten the enforcement of the driver aids ban, not by creating new regulations, which is not allowed on such short notice under the terms of the Concorde Agreement, but by the time-honored practice of 'clarifying' the existing rules. The clarifications, which would require sweeping changes to the computers which control F1 engines, would be enforced beginning with the British Grand Prix, this coming weekend.

The teams had first been served notice of what the FIA intended in a lengthy fax sent to the teams by the F1 technical department on March 26th. The teams and their engine and software suppliers responded, and their comments were quickly considered by the FIA. The following day, the F1 technical department's Charlie Whiting sent the teams a two-page fax, reproduced below in its entirety. In that fax, Whiting provided the FIA's final decision on what changes would be applied in determining the legality of cars racing in the British round and beyond. Further 'clarifications' are promised, after consultation with the team and engine company electronic engineers.

In order to understand what has happened in the last week or so, one needs to know what the teams have been told to do - or more properly, what they cannot do - and to be aware of what led to the original attempt to restrict driver aids. Also important to an understanding of what is being attempted is a passing acquaintance of the rules which have now been clarified, as well as the events which led to the original ban on driver aids. What follows should provide that information.

To begin, then, many of the technical regulations governing Formula One were written specifically to eliminate driver aids. In that regard, they are consistent with Mosley's statement in the San Marino press conference that a driver must be unaided in the applications of, "three fundamental skills. These are: steering the car, using the brakes and...controlling its acceleration."

In the regulations, this concept is more simply stated, requiring that "the propulsion and steering" of an F1 car must be, "under the control of a driver aboard the vehicle." In addition, Article 2.6 of the technical regulatons requires that, "The driver must drive the car alone and unaided."

By 1993, simplified definitions had proven wholly inadequate. With varying degrees of effectiveness, Formula One teams and their engine and engine-management computer suppliers had developed a host of highly effective driver aids, most notably traction control, active suspension and anti-lock braking. Technical development had stretched the concept of a car being "under the control of a driver" to the breaking point. It was thought that continued development of driver aids could make the driver just so much ballast, and in reaction, the FIA imposed sweeping regulatory changes meant to abolish driver aids, and 'clarified' other rules for the same purpose.

Since then, there have been many substantial changes to the technical regulations which were designed to strengthen the prohibition of driver aids, and many devices and computer software 'strategies' developed and applied in an attempt to circumvent those prohibitions. The fact that the teams and their suppliers have been more successful in this regard than has the FIA - and, according to Mosley, caught in the act - has brought us to the current situation.

To help clarify the Whiting fax and the general situation, in which non-specific allegations of cheating have been leveled at unnamed teams, the following excerpts are provided from the 2000 Formula One technical regulations.

One final point before beginning with the extracts from the regs. As Mosley has pointed out recently, F1 cars are required under the regulations to, "comply with these regulations in their entirety at all times during an Event." Further, the regulations state that, "It is the duty of each Competitor to satisfy the FIA technical delegate and the Stewards of the Meeting that his automobile complies with these regulations in their entirety at all times during an Event." In other words, cars are presumed to be in violation based solely on suspicion, and the competitor must then prove his innocence.

Here, then, are the Whiting fax and the relevant regulations:

To: The Technical Director
All Formula One Teams
From: Charlie Whiting
Date: 27 March 2000
Subject: On Board Electronic Control Systems 2000 FIA Formula One World Championship

Following receipt of our fax dated 21 March, a number of observations and questions have (been) received from teams and their engine suppliers.

We have read these messages carefully and feel that a number of changes are necessary to the procedures outlined in the above-mentioned fax. Consequently, please consider the procedures detailed below as definitive.

Therefore, as from the start of the British Grand Prix (20 April), we will not be satisfied that your cars comply with the Technical Regulations unless the following limits are incorporated into the electronic control software.

1. Engine speed measurements:
This must be derived from a single crankshaft sensor whose signal is filtered at one FIA-approved frequency. Any failure-detection strategy can use an alternate sensor and must be latching.

2. Fuel and ignition maps:
The ignition timing and injection fueling maps must only use engine speed, as measured in 1) above, and throttle position as inputs.

We consider corrections of +/ 5% to the base fuel map to be permissible, but only as a result of compensations made for variations in battery voltage, fuel pressure and air temperature.

3. Lambda and knock control
These will no longer be considered permissible, in any form. Lambda figures can, however, be monitored for logging purposes.

4. Pit speed limiter
These will no longer be considered permissible, car speed in the pit lane must be regulated solely and directly by the driver, as it is when the car is on the track.

5. Idle control
The only method of implementing idle control that we consider acceptable will be by modulation of the engine throttles via closed-loop to a single, fixed target below 4000 rpm and by using no more than 10% throttle opening. Additionally, the control parameters should not vary while the car is on the track.

6. Engine braking
Any strategy intended for use under closed throttle pedal conditions on the track may only be activated once the car has exceeded 100 km/h (62.12 mph) for more than three seconds and must be de-activated if the car speed is below 40 km/h (24.86 mph). Both these limits must be hard-coded.

7. Software versions
Other than the version of software used at the British Grand Prix, each team will only be permitted a maximum of one new version per processor per event during the remainder of the season. This will not include changes Please feel free to contact me at any time should anything be unclear. However, it should be pointed out that we are not seeking opinions or making proposals. We are providing information about how we intend to ensure all cars comply with the Technical Regulations.

With best regards,
Charlie Whiting
FIA Formula One Technical Department


The regulations:

5.7 Throttle control:

5.7.1) Other than the specific exceptions mentioned below in 5.7.2, there must be a fixed relationship between the position of the throttle pedal and the engine throttles. This relationship need not be linear but the position of the engine throttles may not be influenced by anything other than movement of the throttle pedal when operated by the driver.

This relationship must remain fixed whilst the car is in motion subject only to Article 8.3.

5.7.2) The relationship between the throttle pedal and engine throttles may alter during one or more of the following operations:

  • idle control;
  • stall prevention;
  • gear changing;
  • car speed limiting.

5.8 Engine control:

Ignition and fuel settings must maintain the same relationship with engine speed and throttle position whilst the car is in motion, with the following specific exceptions:

  • compensation for throttle acceleration;
  • driver adjustable fuel mixture control with a maximum of three settings;
  • compensation for changes in engine intake air temperature and pressure, engine pressures or engine temperatures;
  • open or closed loop detonation and lambda control. No engine parameter may be altered so as to diminish the degree of control the driver has over the propulsion system.

5.9 Stall prevention systems:

5.9.1) Each time such a system is activated it must remain so until the driver de-activates it by manually operating the clutch.

5.9.2) To avoid the possibility of a car involved in an accident being left with the engine running, all such systems must be configured to stop the engine no more than ten seconds after activation.

5.10 Engine rev limiters:

With the exception of the car speed limiter below and subject to Article 8.3, engine rev limits may vary for differing conditions provided all are significantly above the peak of the engine power curve.

5.11 Car speed limiter:

5.11.1) The purpose of the speed limiter is to improve safety by ensuring a driver is less likely to exceed the pitlane speed limit.

5.11.2) The car speed limiter may be operated only by the driver when he needs it and must be de-activated by him at the time it is no longer required.

5.11.3) Car speed limiters may only operate in first, second and third gears and may only be activated in the pit lane.

8.1 Cockpit controls:

8.1.1) With the exception of the car speed limiter described in Article 5.11, the cover referred to in Article 6.5.2 and during gear changes, no driver operated cockpit control may carry out more than one function at any one time.

8.1.2) There must be no significant delay between a driver requested action and the associated actuation.

8.2 Software validation:

8.2.1) Prior to the start of each season the complete electrical system on the car must be examined and all on board and communications software must be validated by the FIA Technical Department.

The FIA must be notified of any changes prior to the Event at which such changes are intended to be implemented.

8.2.2) All microprocessors and their enclosures will be classified as either

  • Sealed and not re-programmable via any external connector;
  • Re-programmable via a direct connection but limited by an approved mechanism.
  • Not re-programmable at an Event. This classification will be given if the microprocessor has no direct communication link to the external connectors of the unit that are capable of being used for re-programming during an Event.
8.2.3) All re-programmable microprocessors must have a mechanism that allows the FIA to accurately identify the software version loaded.

8.2.4) Reprogramming of electronic units during an event will be restricted by an approved mechanism that has been established before the electronic unit is first used at an event.

8.2.5) All set up and calibration data stored in microprocessor memory must be off-loadable by the FIA at any time. Appropriate communications equipment, software and analysis tools must be supplied by the team for FIA use.

8.2.6) The FIA will seal and identify all electronic units on the car that contain a programmable device. 8.2.7) All sealed units must be presented for inspection at the end of an Event.

8.2.8) No version of software will be approved for use at an Event if it is found to be capable of controlling any system on the car in a manner inconsistent with these technical regulations, even if the relevant control software may be disabled.

8.3 Fault or error detection:

If faults or errors are detected by the driver or by on-board software, back-up sensors may be used and different settings may be manually or automatically selected. However, any back-up sensor or new setting chosen in this way must not enhance the performance of the car and the original setting may only be restored when the car is stationary in the pits.

9.2.2) Any device or system which notifies the driver of the onset of wheel spin is not permitted.

9.3.2) Except during gear changes and stall prevention, or as a result of compensation for wear, the amount by which the clutch is engaged must be controlled solely and directly by the driver at all times. The way in which the clutch is re-engaged during gear changes must be such that it is clear Article 9.2 cannot be contravened.

9.3.3) Other than wear compensation, or if a fault condition is detected (see Article 8.3), the relationship between the clutch operating device in the cockpit and the amount of clutch engagement may be non-linear but must remain fixed whilst the engine is running.

9.3.4) Partial clutch re-engagement is permitted during gear changes sequences described under 9.4.3 below.

9.4.3) Multiple gear changes may be made following one driver request provided they are not made before he needs the destination gear and that the car is not driven by any of the intermediate gears during the sequence. If for any reason the sequence cannot be completed the car must be left in neutral or the original gear.

9.4.4) If a gear change fails for mechanical reasons (as opposed to the predicted engine revs in the target gear being too high), further attempts to engage the gear may be made automatically without the driver having to make a new request.

9.4.5) If an over-rev protection strategy is used this may only prevent engagement of the target gear, it must not induce any significant delay. If a gear change is refused in this way, engagement may only follow a new and separate request made by the driver.

9.7 Electronically controlled differentials:

9.7.1) The design and control of the differential may not permit a greater ratio of torque distribution than the ratio of grip between the inner and outer driven wheels.

9.7.2) If a differential is controlled electronically it may only use instantaneous values of one or more of the following parameters for control purposes:

  • measured and/or derived input torque;
  • the difference between the rear wheel speeds;
  • the difference between the output shaft torque.

In the case of measured and/or derived input torque, only measured engine torque, gear ratio, engine speed and throttle position may be used, it must also be clear that this figure is a genuine representation of the input torque.

9.7.3) Subject to Article 8.3, the driver may only make changes to the set-up of an electronically controlled differential whilst the car is stationary.

11.1.4) Any change to, or modulation of, the brake system whilst the car is moving must be made by the drivers direct physical input, may not be pre-set and must be under his complete control at all times.

11.5.1) No braking system may be designed to prevent wheels from locking when the driver applies pressure to the brake pedal.

11.5.2) No braking system may be designed to increase the pressure in the brake calipers above that achievable by the driver applying pressure to the pedal under static conditions.

      Related Articles:

The Case for Low Tech
(Apr-12, 2000)

The Full Transcript of the press conference with Max Mosley at Imola
(Apr-7, 2000)


Forrest Bond© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
Send comments to: Forrest@RaceFax.com Terms & Conditions

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