The innovative Mercedes Dual Axis Steering (DAS) has already been banned from Formula 1 under the 2021 technical regulations, although it is set to remain eligible for the coming season.
Mercedes ran the new system on Thursday morning, with onboard footage showing Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel towards him on straights in order to create more toe-in with the front tires. DAS is likely to have some sort of aerodynamic benefit but is believed to have the biggest impact on tire temperatures, either cooling them if making the toe angle neutral or ensuring they are at the optimal temperature for the following corner at varying angles.
While rival teams will be trying to understand exactly how DAS works and what its performance benefits are, any use will be restricted to just this season due to a change in the regulations next year.
Article 10.5.2 of the 2021 year’s technical regulations reads: “The re-alignment of the steered wheels, as defined by the position of the inboard attachment of the relevant suspensions members that remain a fixed distance from each other, must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel.”
While the FIA is understood to have been happy with the concept’s legality this year, it is unclear whether the change was a direct move in response to Mercedes, with the regulations published last October.
“You have been very wise in noticing the change to the 2021 technical regulations,” FIA race director Michael Masi said. “We will see what teams can come up with within those boundaries of what the regulations are written for in 2021.”
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says he expects the FIA to be able to explain why the system is legal this year and doesn’t foresee a protest against Mercedes’ innovation.
“I have seen that there is a lot of discussion on it; personally on my side I haven’t looked in detail what it is about but I think we fully trust the FIA to show they have made the right decisions,” Binotto said. “I completely trust what they judge on it.
“Are we discussing with the FIA? Not yet — we will do for clarification, as it is important for us to understand, but as I said we will not challenge the FIA on their decision because we trust them fully in what will be or has been the decision on it.”