Why the FIA believes Mercedes' DAS system is legal

Formula 1's second day of pre-season testing has been dominated by intrigue surrounding the Mercedes 'Dual Axis Steering' (DAS) system.

But while the clever trick of adjusting the toe angle of the front wheels through steering wheel movement left some scratching their heads about how it could be allowed, the FIA is comfortable the design is fully in compliance with the regulations.

Indeed, it is understood that Mercedes has been in detailed correspondence with motor racing's governing body about the idea for some time now – and has proceeded to feature it on its W11 only because the opinion of the FIA is that it is allowed.

Had the FIA said that, in its view, the DAS system was in contravention of the rules, then it is likely Mercedes would have abandoned the project rather than plough on and risk a disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix.

Motorsport.com has learned that the central matter for the FIA is the grey area in the regulations between what are suspension components and what are steering parts of the car.

The regulations are clear that suspension changes made when the car is in motion are not allowed.

Read Also:

"No adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion," states Article 10.2.3 of F1's Technical Regulations

So if, in the FIA's view, the changes made to the toe angle were altering the suspension of the car, then that would be outlawed.

However, the FIA's view is that the Mercedes system is deemed not to be altering the suspension. Instead, in its view, DAS is simply another way of 'steering' the front wheels.

In terms of what is allowed in terms of steering, the rules are not that restrictive.

Article 10.4.1 of the technical regulations states: "Any steering system which permits the re-alignment of more than two wheels is not permitted."

With the Mercedes system only adjusting the toe of the front wheels, then that is fully in compliance.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Furthermore, and key to this case, is the fact that there is nowhere in the regulations that states the wheels can only be turned on one axis – nor that the two front wheels must change angle at the same rate.

That means that Mercedes changing the angle of the front wheels independently of each other, to alter the toe, is allowed because there is nothing saying it cannot be done.

The only stipulation regarding such a DAS system is that it cannot be done through power-assisted means – as the power steering of the car has to comply with a regulation that states: "No such system may carry out any function other than reduce the physical effort required to steer the car."

The Mercedes steering system must also have have had to comply with crash tests.

Rivals teams are well aware that Mercedes has exploited an area in the rules that has not been tested in this way before – and has got a head-start in designing, building and testing the system.

With the FIA happy for now with DAS – although its ultimate legality can only be proven by race stewards if there is a protest – the question is now if other teams begin work on their own solutions immediately, or wait for clarity in Melbourne with a potential challenge.

At a time when all outfits are already juggling resources with the 2021 F1 revamp on the horizon, having to throw extra focus into coming up with a DAS system will almost certainly be a major disruption for everyone that elects to create one.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11, steering wheel detail

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11, steering wheel detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

shares
comments
Raikkonen tops second day of F1 testing

Previous article

Raikkonen tops second day of F1 testing

Next article

Gallery: Best photos from Barcelona F1 testing so far

Gallery: Best photos from Barcelona F1 testing so far
Load comments
The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge Prime

The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past.

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Prime

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again Prime

The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021
Why Alfa's boss is up to the task of securing a stronger F1 future Prime

Why Alfa's boss is up to the task of securing a stronger F1 future

Two tenth places in recent races have lifted Alfa Romeo to the head of Formula 1's 'Class C' battle in 2021, but longer-term the Swiss-based squad has far loftier ambitions. With the new 2022 rules set to level out the playing field, team boss Frederic Vasseur has good reason to be optimistic, as he explained to Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
How Barnard's revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction Prime

How Barnard's revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction

The MP4/1 was pioneering by choice, but a McLaren by chance. STUART CODLING relates the tangled (carbon fibre) weaves which led to the creation of one of motor racing’s defining cars

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Prime

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Wind tunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as Pat Symonds explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics.

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021
Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Prime

Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. Stuart Codling weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising.

Formula 1
Jun 12, 2021