Around and about, June 1989

More Changes to Grand Prix Rules

On the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix, the third race of the new 31/2-litre formula, FISA’s Formula One Commission approved a series of detail regulations regarding the design of Grand Prix cars. Adopted by unanimous vote after consultation with team engineers and designers, the reforms bypass the normal stability rule on the grounds of safety, and will come into effect on January 1, 1990.

Following complaints from many drivers that ever narrower cockpits and footwells are making F1 cars dangerously uncomfortable (and the problems experienced by some in passing the five-second evacuation test), minimum interior dimensions and cockpit openings are to be specified to combat what is seen as effective discrimination against taller men.

Immediate reactions to the results and possible causes of Gerhard Berger’s Imola accident include the banning of refrigerated or pressurised fuel (in this case with immediate effect), the introduction of compulsory crash-testing for complete monocoques, including steering wheel area and fuel tank, and the strengthening of frontal wing structures.

Further changes will increase the strength and height of rollover bars and lateral bodywork to make the driver’s “survival cell” more effective, and increase the size of mirrors to improve rearward visibility.

Present at the Commission’s meeting were FISA President Jean-Marie Balestre and Vice-President Bernie Ecclestone, and constructors Frank Williams, Giancarlo Minardi, Cesare Fiorio (Ferrari), Peter Collins (Benetton) and Ron Dennis (McLaren).

FISA also announced the future inspection of all circuits’ medical facilities prior to the granting of Grand Prix dates. Mooted limitations to the capacity of fuel tanks and their location vis-a-vis the driver did not receive support from constructors.