The news that Mercedes-AMG may developed a ‘killer app’ on their W10 race car captured the headlines on second day of pre-season testing at Barcelona – a steering system that alters the toe angle of the front wheels, and it may well prove to be legal.
In fact, Mercedes technical director James Allison even conceded that the team had a name for it – DAS, or Dual Axis Steering, and that the team isn’t too concerned about its legality as FIA is aware of it. You can be sure that rivals will be ready to launch a legal challenge if Mercedes decimates the field in the season-opening race in Melbourne.
DAS works by changing the toe angle of the front wheels which are typically fixed (with a degree of toe out), but as witnessed on Hamilton’s in-car footage, the driver can now pull back on the steering on the straights to straighten up the wheels which has the effect of evening out the contact area of the tyre in relation to the tarmac, which could conceivably help warm the tyres faster or even benefit aerodynamic efficiency.
“We had an interesting day activating the DAS system for the first time and we are on a voyage of discovery with the drivers to learn about the system and see what it can bring us for the season ahead,” said Allison. Whether Mercedes will use the system at Melbourne is anyone’s guess.
Teams finding ‘loopholes’ within the complex technical regulations of Formula 1 aren’t exactly new, the blown diffuser of the Brawn GP team practically earned them the drivers and constructors title in 2009, while McLaren’s drag-reducing F-duct contraption also stole a march on the field in 2010. Both inventions were eventually outlawed by the FIA.