FIA rejects Red Bull's Mercedes DAS F1 protest

The FIA stewards have rejected Red Bull’s protest against Mercedes’ dual-axis steering (DAS) system ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, calling it “not founded”.

FIA rejects Red Bull's Mercedes DAS F1 protest

Mercedes debuted the innovative steering solution during pre-season testing, allowing drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to adjust the toe angle of the car from within the cockpit using their steering wheel.

Many of Mercedes’ rivals were known to be questioning the legality of the system, which has already been outlawed for the 2021 season. 

Red Bull had planned to lodge a protest at the Australian Grand Prix prior to the race being cancelled, and hinted last week the controversy could emerge again in Austria. After Mercedes used DAS on both its cars in FP1 and FP2 at the Red Bull Ring on Friday, Red Bull formally lodged a protest with the stewards under two articles of the technical regulations.

At 12:31am in Austria, the stewards issued a statement confirming they had rejected Red Bull’s protest.

Red Bull technical officials Adrian Newey and Paul Monaghan argued in the hearing that DAS allowed for driver movement to be a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car, as well as arguing that it was part of the suspension system.

Mercedes countered this by arguing the limitations of DAS in impacting the suspension system, and that a conventional steering system is also capable of adjusting the toe angle of cars via changing steering angle.

But the stewards threw out the protest after deeming that DAS was part of the steering system – even while noting it was “not a conventional one” – and could not be seen as part of the suspension of the car.

“The Stewards consider DAS to be a legitimate part of the steering system and hence to satisfy the relevant regulations regarding suspension or aerodynamic influence,” the stewards’ report concludes.

“In the opinion of the Stewards, the DAS system is physically and functionally a part of the steering system.

“As such, it benefits of the implicit exceptions to certain suspension regulations applicable to steering.”

The decisions means that Mercedes will be allowed to continue to use DAS on its cars through final practice and qualifying in Austria on Saturday.

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