Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admits a protest could be lodged in order to get clarification over the legality of the Mercedes DAS after it was used at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Mercedes caught the eye with its innovative steering system — whose initials stands for Dual Axis Steering — in pre-season testing, but rivals have questioned whether it conforms with the regulations. The FIA has already outlawed the system for 2021, and Horner (pictured above) says a protest is likely this weekend at the Red Bull Ring after seeing Mercedes use it in Friday practice.
“First of all it is a very clever system, and so all credit to the ingenuity behind it,” Horner said. “I think the fundamental question for us is, does it comply with the regulations? In a fundamentally gray area, obviously we do want clarity on it as it does have an impact regarding the rest of this year. It’s something outlawed for next year; question is, is it right for this year? They’re the questions we’ll be asking of the FIA through the necessary channels.”
When RACER followed up on whether that means Red Bull has its own version of the system ready to go if the device is deemed legal, Horner suggested it has investigated such an option.
“It’s a very complicated system — a lot of work has gone into it, we’ve certainly looked at it. Like any component it has to earn its place on the car for the penalty it carries, whether that be weight or packaging. Certainly it’s something, subject to clarification, that would be under evaluation for the rest of the year.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff — sitting socially distanced from Horner in the same press conference — says he doesn’t mind Red Bull seeking clarification but believes questions after the race should be avoided, hinting at an earlier protest.
“Clarification is always good,” Wolff said. “We think we are on the right side — there was a lot of talking and exchange with the FIA, that’s why we have it on the car — so we will both bring our arguments forward, then we’ll see.
“All teams are pretty much aware we are in a sensitive situation with going racing — it’s the first race and I think on one side it’s fair enough to seek clarification, on the other side we are aware we don’t want to end up with a big debate on Sunday night.
“I think Christian is going to take the right actions. Controversy and different judgment on engineer innovation has always been a part of F1. It’s to be expected in a way, and it is part of the racing.”