Mercedes-AMG F1's Controversial Dual Axis Steering 'OK' for Now, Axed for 2021

Well that didn't take long.

2020 Barcelona Pre-Season Test 1, Day 2 - Wolfgang Wilhelm
Daimler AG—© Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG

Mercedes-AMG became the talk of the Formula 1 paddock on Thursday when its drivers were spotted adjusting their cars' front toe setting on the fly via a trick steering complication called Dual Axis Steering, or DAS. In theory, the mechanism offers a variety of advantages in terms of top speed, tire management, and maybe even handling characteristics, although nothing has been confirmed by the team. This sly interpretation of the 2020 F1 technical regulations won't fly in 2021, however, as DAS has reportedly been banned for next season, reports Racer.

FIA

2021 F1 Technical Regulations

Section 10.5.2 of F1's 2021 technical regulations explicitly prohibit steering systems from altering the front wheels' rotation along more than one axis, effectively outlawing DAS. This wasn't some reactionary rule change made in response to Thursday's DAS sighting; as this version of the 2021 ruleset was published on October 31, 2019, predating public knowledge of DAS by 16 weeks. The FIA may have included this clarification regarding the steering system's function as a result of its back-and-forth with Mercedes-AMG technical director James Allison, who told media on Thursday that he spent "some time" verifying the DAS's legality for 2020 with the FIA.

The passage banning DAS cannot be found in the 2020 season's technical regulations, which were most recently updated on December 4, 2019, implying DAS will remain legal throughout the year. Even so, competing teams are not expected to attempt to copy the system, as Racing Point F1's technical director Andy Green told Auto Motor und Sport that he thinks DAS could take up to six months to copy and require a chassis redesign.

It seems Mercedes once again has a leg up on the F1 field in 2020, which will give six-time champion Lewis Hamilton a good platform to pursue his seventh, Michael Schumacher-matching world title. Let's hope that his teammate Valtteri Bottas succeeds in his goal to bring the heat to Hamilton, because if he fails, 2020 could be a rerun of 2015 and probably his last with the three-pointed-star.

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