Mercedes F1 team reveals origins of DAS system
Mercedes has revealed its controversial dual-axis steering (DAS) system emerged from a previous innovation that raced on its Formula 1 car a couple of years ago.
Mercedes sparked intrigue in the F1 paddock when it debuted DAS on its car on the second day of pre-season testing, allowing drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to adjust the toe angle of the front wheels from the cockpit.
The drivers used DAS by pulling the steering wheel towards them while on a straight, prompting questions from rivals about its legality from technical, sporting and safety standpoints.
DAS has already been outlawed for next season with Mercedes' agreement despite the decision to retain the existing cars for 2021.
Bottas revealed in pre-season testing he had known about DAS for over a year, but its roots stretch even further back, with Mercedes chief designer John Owen revealing the idea emerged from a separate project that had run on the car.
"The DAS system was born out of the ashes of something else we'd tried and actually raced on the car a couple of years ago that sort of worked, but didn't really deliver all the promise that we had in it," Owen said in a video on Mercedes' YouTube channel.
"That was sort of put to one side as something we tried and perhaps didn't live up to our expectations. There are many other things like that that are out there, within the team, within people's minds, projects that people remember.
"The DAS system was really well, what about if you could do something like this, what do the rules say? And the rules effectively didn't stop it. We thought that's unusual and surprising.
"Then you get into it more and more and more, and you say well how would I stop it, and take the opposite approach and say well I'm now going to stop someone from having this, what would I do, what would my arguments be?
"Then you have a system where you thought about what someone else's arguments would be, and you've made it so it doesn't trip up on any of those."
While the FIA had informed Mercedes it was satisfied that DAS was within the regulations, Red Bull had planned to lodge a protest at the Australian Grand Prix.
"I think we've seen with the DAS system already there's a lot of immediate reaction that it must not be within the rules," said Owen.
"But the more people look at it, the more people say 'oh OK, maybe it is within the rules, and why haven't we seen it before?'.
"Now there's a definite [push] to find why it isn't within the rules, and that's just Formula 1 in general."
Owen said the visual nature of DAS and the reaction to it proved there is still a desire from fans for clear innovation from teams.
"What the DAS system proved is that there's definitely craving in Formula 1 still for that sort of innovation, where suddenly the driver is moving the steering wheel different to what everyone else is, and something is happening that we didn't expect," Owen said.
"I think that's perhaps what's lacking, that visual innovation that people can talk about and get excited about.
"There's a lot of things on the 2020 Mercedes that are great innovations, none of which we really want to talk about because they are an important competitive advantage.
"But there is one of them that obviously is so visual, and talked about a lot.
"I think the sport would be better if there were more of those talking points. It would bring a lot more interest into the sport."
Top F1 teams "playing with fire" over cost cap - Brown
Gallery: All of Jacques Villeneuve's F1 race wins