There is a widely held view in the F1 paddock that a decision that is pending today could well decide the 2006 Formula One World Championship – potentially both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in fact.
We’re talking, of course, about the Mass Damper decision in the Paris Court of Appeal. The FIA banned the device in July citing aerodynamic reasons (the writer, for one, is still trying to wrap his mind around that one), after which its own stewards overruled the FIA’s decision on 28 July at Hockenheim.
While not only Renault used the device, they were certainly the most severely affected. It has been said that the fundamentals of the design of the Renault included Mass Dampers and this is why Renault has not had a single win since the system was disallowed. Of course there were moves to include it in Hungary after the stewards’ decision but, ultimately, this was not done.
The decision by the FIA, the length of time it took them to change their minds (it was inspected last year and given the green light) and especially the timing thereof has even lead to widespread conspiracy theories about the FIA deliberately helping Ferrari, or at least taking active (if not above board) steps to throw open the championship.
Of course, the fact that Bridgestone excperienced a sudden surge in form shortly before the exclusion of the Mass Damper system also has not helped Renault in their battle against Ferrari. Retaining the Mass Damper system really could end up being Renault’s only hope of defending their championship lead.
It has now been left to the Paris court of appeal to determine who was right: Charlie Whiting or the FIA stewards. The hearing started yesterday and today we wait for the decision to be announced. The decision that could decide the championship…
Update: The decision has now been made and can be found here.
Edu de Jager
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