Aug.21 (GMM) So-called 'J-dampers' are set to become commonplace on formula one cars, as the intriguing history of the previously secret technology is revealed.
We recently reported that Renault delayed debuting similar technology earlier this year because of the spy scandal surrounding engineer Phil Mackereth's defection from McLaren.In the World Motor Sport Council hearings before Christmas, it was revealed that among Mackereth's McLaren drawings was a device referred to as a 'J-damper'."What's a J-damper?" Renault engineering chief Pat Symonds replied memorably to the press at Montreal in June.Symonds' answer may have been disingenuous, but it subsequently emerged that Force India recently started using on its 2008 car what boss Mike Gascoyne referred to as an "inerter damper".'J-damper' was simply a codename developed by McLaren and the technology's inventor to put their rivals off the scent of what the device actually did.McLaren has been using the inerter damper since 2005 -- a year before Renault's mass damper system was banned.It has emerged that, three years ago, McLaren penned an exclusive confidentiality agreement with the famous Cambridge University, the scene of the J-damper's birth and the owner of its patent.Business Weekly reports that, with the McLaren agreement now lapsed, Cambridge has licensed the J-damper to the leading damper company and F1 supplier Penske Racing Shocks, thus allowing any other team to deploy the device.Penske Racing Shocks' technical director Jim Arentz said: "We are confident that the ingenuity of Cambridge now combined with Penske ... will promote greater exposure of the inerter in motor sport."