James Allison, technical director of the Mercedes Formula 1 team, admitted that Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas failed to optimise the use of the DAS system fitted to the W11 in 2020, a unique ‘party trick’ now banned for this year.
Last season, the Mercedes team caused quite a stir in the winter test when the media discovered live a brand new ingenious system mounted on the W11 called DAS (Dual Axis Steering).
This system allowed the driver to pull the steering wheel at the beginning of the straight, which resulted in a change in the camber angle and front-wheel toe-in when the car was running.
At first, nobody knew what such a system could be used for, but Mercedes eventually revealed that the drivers used the DAS to get the front tyres warmed up before the start of the race or before a qualifying timed lap; happy to reveal the secrets for the system once it was banned.
The DAS is now deemed illegal in relation to article 10.5.2 of the technical regulations which stipulates in the “driving” chapter that: “the alignment of the front wheels must only be done by a constant function of a movement of rotation of the steering wheel.”
As the DAS allows the front wheels to move away from their main axle to help the tyres warm up, this trick will be illegal from the 2021 season onwards following the modification of this part of the technical regulations by the FIA. When James Allison was asked about the use of the DAS in 2020 by the team’s drivers, the Brit reveals that Mercedes wanted to use it more during race weekends, but that the drivers encountered some problems in deploying it effectively.
“It has done just about everything we hoped it would do. In theory, we wanted to use it more, in the sense that the driver could have optimised it from one corner to the next with new or old tyres. ” said James Allison, Mercedes’ technical director, to AMUS.
“That would have made a lot of steering behaviour unnecessary. However, it turns out the drivers didn’t find it easy to use the system. It wasn’t as clear as turning left or right.
“Perhaps in a normal season with more tests and stages of development, we would have been able to perfect the system as the drivers would have been can use it even more.
“But it helped us to get the front tyres warmed up during the heating or restart laps.
“It’s a pity we couldn’t get everything figured out and that it’s banned, but we understand that it would have been costly and not much of an advantage to force everyone to go into this development. ”