Mercedes caught the attention of the entire Formula One paddock on the second day of pre-season testing when television broadcasts revealed that Lewis Hamilton was manipulating the toe angle of the front wheels via his steering system.
Mercedes Technical Director James Allison confirmed the existence of the mechanism during a lunchtime press conference.
“It just introduces an extra dimension in the steering for the driver which we hope will be useful during the season,” Allison told SkySports F1.
“But precisely how we use it, why we use it… that’s something we’ll keep to ourselves.”
The system is known as the Dual Axis Steering system, or DAS for short, and is controlled via the drivers pulling back on the steering wheel on the straights to change the toe angle of the front wheels.
Formula One technical analyser Mark Hughes explained the significant benefit a system like DAS could be to Mercedes.
“If the Mercedes mechanism works as assumed, the tyres will be heated more evenly across their width as they run fully upright, but the benefits of toe-out can still be deployed into the corner. It will be of particular benefit on circuits with long straights,”Hughes described via Formula1.com.
The legality of DAS became a hot topic amongst rival teams once it was proven that Mercedes have in fact developed this ingenious solution to tyre heating problems.
Cars are not subject to comply under the same regulations for testing as they are for a race weekend. Hence, DAS will likely remain under scrutiny by the FIA without any report of its legality until the opening race in Melbourne.
However, Allison doubts whether the team will be enforced to remove the system should they intend to use it in Australia.
Allison said to SkySports F1: “This isn’t news to the FIA, it’s something we’ve been talking to them about for some time.
“The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we feel confident that it matches all of those requirements.”
Current FIA Techincal regulations declare that
“any powered device which is capable of altering the configuration or affecting the performance of any part of any suspension system is forbidden” and that “no adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion.”
Mercedes have seemingly shrouded themselves in mystery over their latest innovation.
The FIA will continue to monitor the system to provide a clear statement of to the legality of DAS before the season opener in Melbourne on March 15.
Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1