Renault removed its controversial ‘mass damper’ system at Hockenheim on Friday, while Ferrari left the technology at its base in Italy.
The saga left a contentious taste as the 2006 German grand prix weekend got rolling on Friday, after race stewards disagreed with the FIA’s technical delegate, Charlie Whiting, about the legality of the system.
No doubt fearing retrospective disqualification in an upcoming appeal, Renault chose to protect Fernando Alonso’s 17-point lead by opting against using mass dampers at this event.
Observers, though, were left wondering if the decision contributed to Renault’s apparent lack of pace so far at Hockenheim, with Ferrari staying out of the dispute and enjoying an advantage in the initial practice runs.
Michael Schumacher fended off a question about the effect of ‘damper-gate’, speculating instead that Renault’s use of old tyres on Friday might better explain their form.
But Alonso said: ”Ferrari are going to be very difficult to beat here. They will be very strong.”
Asked if he was missing the mass damper system, the Spaniard said: ”Honestly, at a circuit like this, you hardly notice.
”We had already tested like this at Jerez and we had no problems.”
Ferrari’s technical boss Ross Brawn, meanwhile, aimed gentle criticism at Renault for forcing the controversy.
Referring to the looming appeal, he said: ”Once we start going through these procedures, it becomes very difficult.”