4 August 2006
Friday press conference - Hungarian GP - Pt.1.
Team personnel: Ross Brawn (Ferrari), Sam Michael (Williams), Pat Symonds (Renault), Pascal Vasselon (Toyota)
A question to you all: can you talk us through the mass damper situation as you understand it from your point of view?
Yes, Formula One control presents a very specific issue, because we are running very hard suspension on top of very soft tyres and it's very tricky to control the body movements. From our point of view, we have been working on this, of course, but we went in the direction of classical suspension elements, which are not mass dampers, so at the moment it's not an issue.
I would say that we've experimented with that type of damper and we definitely found gains with it on the track. We're obviously not running it at the moment, like most people. It will obviously be up to the FIA on the 22 of August to decide what's what and to decide on the future direction for it. There's no doubt that you gain through less load oscillation on the tyres, particularly in the end of straight condition; that's the place where you find the main advantage, but it's all out there at the moment. We'll wait and see.
We've had a system fitted on occasions this year, not every race. Some tracks it seems to suit more than others and obviously we don't have the system fitted now.
And the appeal by the FIA against their own stewards' decision?
I can understand how the situation's evolved but I think it's a little difficult, because we tend to use the FIA technical department as the reference and obviously if they make a dramatic mistake, then that needs correcting but we've had lots of occasions when we perhaps haven't agreed with their assessment of the situation. We've lobbied them and still not succeeded and we've abided by their decisions, which is the simplest way for everybody to work. Having said that, I can understand the frustrations that Renault have probably felt. But if we do get to the situation where we regularly challenge technical directors through the stewards, it's going to get very messy, so I hope we don't degenerate into that situation.
The devices have been in use at Renault since the last quarter of 2005 and we have raced with them at every race up to Germany. I think the events of Germany are pretty well documented, there's no point in discussing those. The stewards did challenge what we did and that now therefore has to go to the Court of Appeal as the FIA have appealed against the stewards. It's actually nothing to do with Renault, it's between the FIA and the stewards. As that's a process that's on-going, I don't think it's correct for me to comment on the technicalities of it, although we have our defence, if you like, of our position. We have every faith in the International Court of Appeal. We believe it is an unbiased final judgement and we shall wait and see what the outcome is.
Pascal, you became technical director just a few months ago, a fairly major job for you. How are you getting on with it, has it been a steep learning curve?
I'm trying hard, I'm obviously working hard, but for a definitive answer you had better ask my boss. Of course I have a lot of new things to learn about, but when you are not technical director in my case but general manager chassis, first of all you have to understand where there is a problem in the car and the dominant performance factors, and in this area I had some experience before coming to Toyota.
The cars have been going much better since North America but little things have been going wrong; how easy or difficult has it been to get on top of those problems?
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