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Schumacher urges rules caution

NEWS STORY
14/10/2005

At a time when the powers that be are considering a number of rule changes, ahead of the 2006 season, seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher has called for caution.

In addition to the re-introduction of tyre stops, the qualifying format is also scheduled to be totally revamped, with the current single 'hot lap' format being dropped in favour of a new system which would involve a 'knock-out' process.

Speaking in Shanghai, ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, Schumacher said: "The fact is we changed qualifying for the first time five years ago. There is no optimum version that will please everybody. It is an opinion."

Since the previous 12-lap free-for-all was dropped, various computations of a single lap format have been tried, none of them proving popular with drivers, TV broadcasters or fans.

"We changed qualifying for the first time five years ago," the German continued. "There will now have been seven different changes and none of them pleases everyone. Whatever we decide on, we should stick with. As soon as people don't understand the sport, they will lose interest and then they will stop following it. To me, this is a fact that should be considered before people chop and change for the sake of changing."

F1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, has long complained of the folly of asystem which sees the fastest cars at the front of the grid, and therefore disappearing into the distance when the lights go green on Sunday afternoon.

In Japan, last week, following freak weather conditions that affected qualifying, most of the fast cars started from the back of the grid, consequently drivers were forced to overtake, thus producing one of the best races of the season. However, Ferrari boss, Jean Todt, warned that artificially 'reversing' the grid would turn F1 into "a circus".

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