Damper D-Day

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, Hungaroring, 2006The predictable confirmation that the FIA’s ban on mass damper systems will be upheld has dealt a stinging blow to Renault’s hopes of retaining both the drivers and constructors championships.

Fernando Alonso currently leads Michael Schumacher by ten points in the drivers’ championship and Renault head Ferrari byseven in the constructors’s title race.

But the banning of a system that Renault pioneered well before their rivals, and is intrinsic to the competitivity of their R26, seriously compromises their form as was clear in Hockenheim when they were forced to run without the devices.

It all seems strangely familiar – in 2003 a similar late change to the rules, which altering how tyre deformation would be measured, scuppered the Michelin teams that were threatending Schumacher and Ferrari at the time. The conspiracy theorists will certainly have a field day.

But it begs two important questions:

  1. If the system is illegal now, why was it not illegal on every occasion since Renault first used it in 2005?
  2. Should the governing body change their interpretation on technology that was previously deemed to be legitimate during a championship campaign, or wait until the off-season to avoid implications of championship-fixing?

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