AUGUST 23, 2006
Questions arising from the Appeal Court decision
The Appeal from the FIA against the Stewards of the German Grand Prix has been successful - and the FIA, keen to show the credentials of the court, has issued biographies of the judges involved so that everyone sees that the process is fair, independent and carried out by top-level legal minds.
The argument centered on the meaning of the word "suspension" and whether the Tuned Mass Damper was part of an F1 suspension.
The judges argued that the rules specify that "any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance: must comply with the rules relating to bodywork; must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom); and must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car".
From a purely legal point of view they thus concluded that Renault's system was illegal and so rejected the stewards' decision and backed up the FIA Technical Department.
The FIA was naturally pleased with the result and made much of the fact that the change of its interpretation of the rule was necessary in case a rival team came along at the end of the year and protested the World Champions after the racing was over. This is a possible scenario but what no-one seems to have mentioned - and the judges were not asked to consider - was how it was that the FIA technical department agreed to allow Renault to run with the system in the first place, at the end of 2005 and for most of 2006, without a word of complaint.
The FIA has rejected the claims that it was manipulating the World Championship and thus one must look at the other possible explanation: that the technical department did not understand what it was agreeing to when it allowed Renault to use mass dampers.
And that raises a number of questions about the department itself.
It also raises questions about Renault's run to the World Championship at the end of last year.
How much of that late-season run was due to the mass dampers?
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