The Mercedes Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system has been deemed legal after the Austrian Grand Prix stewards dismissed a protest from Red Bull.
Rumors of a potential protest had been prominent since the device – which allows the Mercedes drivers to adjust the toe angle of the front wheels by moving the steering wheel towards them on straights – appeared during pre-season testing in Barcelona. Red Bull lodged a protest against the device following FP2 in Austria on Friday, forcing the stewards to decide on the legality of DAS ahead of this weekend’s race.
The stewards are a different group to the technical personnel that Mercedes will have sought clarity from when developing the device – which will be outlawed from next season – and therefore could have come to a different verdict based on the arguments presented by Red Bull, but dismissed the protest “as it is not founded”.
The Red Bull protest hinged on two specific points – Article 3.8 relating to movable aerodynamic devices, and Article 10.2.3 about suspension geometry that states “No adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion.”
Over six hours after the protest was officially lodged, a thorough decision was handed down that dismissed the protest, with the conclusion stating that “the DAS system is not part of the suspension, nor can it be considered to illegitimately adjust the suspension.
“Therefore the Stewards consider DAS to be a legitimate part of the steering system and hence to satisfy the relevant regulations regarding suspension or aerodynamic influence.
“In the opinion of the Stewards, the DAS system is physically and functionally a part of the steering system. As such, it benefits of the implicit exceptions to certain suspension regulations applicable to steering.”
Red Bull has a right to appeal, but the timing of the protest suggests it was likely lodged in order for the team to run its own version of the system, perhaps as early as this weekend.
When asked by RACER if it had its own version ready to use before the protest was lodged, Horner admitted it would be potentially incorporated on the Red Bull should it prove legal.
“It’s a very complicated system, a lot of work has gone into it,” Horner said. “We’ve certainly looked at it, and like any component it has to earn its place on the car for the penalty it carries, whether that be weight or packaging, certainly something subject to clarification would be under evaluation for the rest of the year.”
Both Mercedes cars used DAS during Friday practice in Austria, and are likely to continue to do so following the stewards’ decision.