Red Bull has lodged an official protest against the legality of the Mercedes cars at Formula 1’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
Team principal Christian Horner had hinted at a protest earlier on Friday, with Red Bull looking for clarification regarding the legality of the Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system that Mercedes is running this season. DAS allows the drivers to move the steering wheel closer to them at the start of a straight, changing the toe angle of the front wheels for more toe-in, and then pushing the wheel back to its original position – and readjusting the toe angle – before the next corner.
After hearing Horner’s comments on the matter, Toto Wolff said he was “aware we don’t want to end up with a big debate on Sunday night”.
The protest has come earlier in the weekend than normal. A team would usually protest the final result of the race, because that would lead to the cars in question potentially being disqualified. But in this instance, if the FIA does not make a decision on the legality ahead of Saturday’s running, Mercedes would have to decide whether it races the system under protest and risks disqualification, or removes it until a final call is made.
The protest is against an alleged breach of Articles 3.8 and 10.2.3 of the technical regulations. Article 3.8 relates to aerodynamic influence and moveable aerodynamic devices, with a section of the regulations stating “any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited”.
Article 10.2.3 addresses suspension geometry and says: “No adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion.”
Both teams have been summoned to the stewards at 19:10 local time in Austria.