MES denies teams could cheat on traction control

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McLaren Electronic Systems has denied that F1 teams could find a way around the new-for-2008 standard engine control unit.

It follows a complaint from Jarno Trulli that some teams might have found away around the system to restore the banned traction control. MES CEO Peter van Manen said:

Once you have decided to have a standard control system and it’s secure from outside intervention, providing software to prevent traction control is relatively straightforward.

Last week Jarno Trulli warned that Toyota thought some teams had created launch control systems:

I’m not going to name any names, but I think that some teams have already found a way to automate the starting procedure and reduce to the minimum the chance of spinning the wheels under acceleration.

I’m not saying someone’s cheating, even though we’ve received some conflicting information at Toyota. But having analyzed the behaviour on the track both now and in the tests in December, the changes between them are many – and in several cases suspicious.

Max Mosley has defended the standard ECU, saying:

They are going to find [cheating] very difficult. First of all you have got to circumvent the ECU and secondly you have got to somehow disable our spy in the cab that will tell us that is going on.

One has to remember that what people run in private test sessions is entirely up to them and I think it is going to be extremely difficult to do it at a race.

I hope the system really is sufficiently secure. But when a legally trained man like Max Mosley describes something as “very difficult” and not “impossible”, I have to wonder.

Van Manen also shed light on questions about Microsoft’s involvement in the project, about which little has been heard since the joint bid won the tender in 2006:

It is easy just to say let’s just concentrate on the box that goes on the car. But there’s a lot more to it if you are going to do the job properly. We consider that to do the job properly a partner like Microsoft was right for us.

There is a huge engineering community in motorsport and the way they look at data is all built on the products that sit on PCs. Most of those PCs are running core infrastructure that comes from Microsoft. In motorsport you operate as close to the boundaries as you are comfortable doing. Getting close to Microsoft allows you to push those boundaries in that area.

Photos copyright: F1Fanatic | Toyota F1 Media

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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10 comments on “MES denies teams could cheat on traction control”

  1. The Microsoft quote looks like a shameless plug from MES’s side to me. He basically stated that they developed the software on PC’s running Microsoft software. Maybe they got their Windows versions for free ;-)
    With regards to the traction system, it depends on how you define that. To me it is a system that gets information from the wheel sensor and adjusts power in whatever way to prevent the loss of traction. Now even if you don’t have a wheel sensor you could get the data from the track/air/tire temps and then run a starting procedure which makes it unlikely that the wheels will slip. If this is the fastest way or whether even this is allowed I don’t know.

  2. If it is as foolproof and safe as Windows or IE then we can all be totally confident no one has even slight chance to cheat on TC :-)

  3. Sorry for the off-topic, but I just want to inform you that today in Barcelona Nakajima had a terrible shunt with the new Williams FW30. He is ok now, we are waiting for some pictures. Anyway, the team has stopped their test because they think the reason of the accident was a problem with the wings.

  4. ???

    All he did was snap off the front wing. It wasn’t that bad at all.

  5. As for the ECU, what I’m curious about is when they will actually be distributed to the teams. Do they get a certain amount supplied to them at the beginning of the season, or do they get new ones before each race? And how often will the FIA take them back for examination?

  6. did max say that their spy?? in the cab would get cheats – not again surely – is that why the fia needed an increase in licence money and fine payments!!

  7. A traction control system wouldn’t even have to route through the ECU to function. A crude version only requires a method of sensing the horizontal and lateral speeds, a very small calculation chip (easy to hide anywhere in the car) and some sort of output to one or more systems that could do something about it. So TC is perfectly possible, no matter what tricks are tried with the ECU to secure it.

    Remember also that this is Microsoft, a company whose products invented the computer industry advice of not buying one of their products until the first service pack is released…

  8. Eric M., some ECUs have already been distributed for the purposes of winter testing, though I wouldn’t be surprised if extra ones were reserved purely for individual races. I’m sure the FIA have a scheme to get all the ECU data back, but I don’t know what that is.

  9. F1, the pinnacle of motorsport and therefore must be tied to the highest level of technology…..HA! Subaru had a viscous clutch no bigger than a CV joint which provided front to rear drive (slip) control in their road cars as far back as 1989. No ECU involved, just a mechanical part. Of course this would cause MadMax to add four more pages to the regs banning this device.

  10. Quote Alianora La Canta:”…this is Microsoft, a company whose products invented the computer industry advice of not buying one of their products until the first service pack is released…”

    Lol…. for one… i could not agree more. What next Mr. Mosley & dare i include Mr. Gates? A mid-season patch in the form of ECU_Soft_SP1, is that it?

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