Motor Racing: Tyrrell endorse ban on 'driver aids': Postlethwaite's return to Tyrrell may signal change of fortune for former world constructors champions

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The Independent Online
FORMULA ONE'S embattled authorities were given a vote of confidence when Tyrrell- Yamaha unveiled their new car yesterday and challenged accusations that this year's regulations were unclear.

Several teams have warned of confrontation over the interpretation of certain rules when they report for scrutineering at the opening race of the world championship, in Brazil, on 27 March.

However, Harvey Postlethwaite, the designer of the Tyrrell 022, maintained that his car was 100 per cent legal and that there was no reason why other teams should be confused over the outlawing of 'driver aids'.

Postlethwaite said at the Motor Racing Show at Olympia, in London: 'There are a number of arguments about driver aids, but the principle is crystal clear. If they take control out of the hands of the driver, they are illegal.

'I understand Max Mosley (the president of the sport's governing body, the FIA) is going to take a very serious line if anyone breaks the rules and will make sure his representatives will be taking the same line in judging the legality of the cars.

'It may be some will want to test legality in the pit lane. What others care to do, I cannot say. I simply hope we have a proper racing season and not a series of arguments which bring the sport into disrepute.'

A little later, in Knightsbridge, Mosley confirmed that any team stepping out of line would be severely punished. He said: 'If anyone deliberately tries to gain an advantage by unfair means, then Draconian measures would be justified. If, for instance, anyone is caught with traction control, they could be out of the championship for the rest of the season.'

Mosley and his technical aide, Charlie Whiting, have discussed areas of possible contention with the leading teams and insist that the onus is on the entrants to ensure they turn up in Sao Paulo with legal cars. Mosley said: 'I am hopeful of averting disqualifications. The teams know the rules. There is no reason why there should be confrontation, because they have had the opportunity to enquire about what is and is not permissible.

''The stewards will decide whether or not cars are legal, but people who want to go to Brazil with contentious cars can. I think the chances of problems are small, but if there are, it's not going to be our fault.'

The revised regulations are intended to reduce costs, give the cars back to the drivers and produce closer racing. Ken Tyrrell, the founder of the Tyrrell team, believes the measures will achieve their objectives. He predicts the gap between the front-runners and those at the back of the field could be halved.

Postlethwaite, who returned to Tyrrell from Ferrari last autumn, is endeavouring to steer the British team back on to a winning course for the first time in more than a decade. To that end, he has created, in little more than four months, what he calls a 'proper' car, which is purposely not radical.

The team have declared their intention to be in contention for the championship in three years and see Postlethwaite's contribution as crucial to their ambitions.

Tyrrell said: 'The best car we've had was in 1990, and that was by Harvey. It was voted Racing Car of the Year and I see no reason why we can't repeat that exercise this year.'

The team are still in need of additional sponsorship - the car is predominantly white - but are encouraged by Yamaha's development programme and the input of the British driver, Mark Blundell, who links up with Japan's Yukyo Katayama this season.

Blundell, revelling in his role of 'senior partner' after two seasons alongside Martin Brundle at Brabham and then Ligier, said: 'I made the decision to join Tyrrell when a lot of people thought I had a good chance of going to McLaren. But I could see things weren't going to be resolved quickly there, and I wanted to be with a team where I was the No 1 choice.

'I like the look of the car, it looks aggressive, and I like the way the team works. They've built the cockpit the way I've asked, and that gives me a good feeling.'

Blundell and his rivals will probably have to slow down in the pit lane. Mosley said: 'With the considerable number of pit stops, we have to address the increasing dangers. Speed limits are an obvious option, or even a form of sleeping policemen.'