Mercedes’ controversial steering system ‘DAS’ isn’t permitted under the published 2021 Technical Regulations, but appears legal for 2020.
Mercedes caught the eye of the world on Thursday, when Lewis Hamilton was spotted in onboard shots pulling his steering wheel backwards towards him while driving down the straights of the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona.
He would then push the wheels forward again approaching braking areas, with the wheels appearing to change camber and toe with the steering wheel movements. Mercedes then confirmed they have put a novel steering system called ‘DAS’ (Dual Axis Steering) on their W11, and that the FIA are aware of it.
While Mercedes’ James Allison says they are confident of the legality of the system, the 2021 FIA Technical Regulations appear to outright ban such a system.
In the new regulations, part of a far-reaching technical overhaul of the sport, the section covering steering systems specifically state: “The re-alignment of the steered wheels, as defined by the position of the inboard attachment of the relevant suspensions members that remain a fixed distance from each other, must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel.”
This would mean the system isn’t legal. However, the issue right now is whether the system is legal for 2020. While Mercedes say the FIA are aware of it and have had discussions with the FIA regarding it, it is the race stewards at an individual race who can interpret the technical regulations differently. Formal complaints have not been made by Ferrari or Red Bull yet, although Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday that he ‘guessed the system is legal if they’re running it’.
As for whether DAS may appear on other cars, Haas’ team boss Guenther Steiner says it’s not likely the midfield teams will develop a similar system with just a few months of potential legality: “For sure, a mid field team is not going to invest resources to figure something out like this . We’ve got issues which gives us more return in investment.”