Toyota chassis senior manager Pascal Vasselon has given cautious backing to Renault's impending appeal against the banning of controversial mass dampers, claiming that the regulations should have been made clearer before the season had started.

The mass damper debate has been raging since the German Grand Prix when the FIA ordered Renault to remove the aerodynamic system in light of rumoured complaints from rivals Ferrari and McLaren.

A system that aids the front suspension and provide more stability, Renault claim they lose up to 0.3secs a lap without the dampers as they have designed the chassis around it as a fundamental feature.

Indeed, Renault are seemingly the only team to have perfected it, with Vasselon admitting Toyota also attempted to incorporate something similar but, like Ferrari and McLaren, failed to make it work.

"Mass damping is one of the critical things that engineers have to sort out," he said. "We are forced to use stiff suspensions to maintain a stable aerodynamic platform. And, on the tyre side, we use low pressure for grip. So it means we put stiff suspension on top of very soft tyres and that causes a lot of problems.

"The combination means that at some frequencies the suspension is locked and the car is effectively bouncing on the tyres, which are not damped. The mass damper is one of the possibilities to control the frequency. From our side, we disregarded this because we considered it to be moving ballast, which is not allowed.

"Our development focused on suspension and another route that, for us, was more in line with the regulations. The mass damper is not an innovation, it is well known in engineering. It was actually used on the Citroen 2CV to counteract wheel hop!

However, while Vasselon is critical of their use by Renault, he does admit that such a pivotal feature should not be outlawed midway through a season, particularly as much remains as to much is at stake for Renault. He believes it will be this that will prove the crucial factor in the FIA's decision.

"The question was: do we apply it to F1 or not? I would say it is obviously borderline. But then we also believe the issue of - it should be banned for the future, but it has been accepted, so why ban it in the middle of the season? Let's wait the end of the season - will be answered by the International Court of Appeal very soon. That's probably the true question that has to be answered."

 

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