Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Racing Point on top as Mercedes’ steering wheel attracts attention

2020 F1 season

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Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo headed the times at the end of Thursday morning’s running at the Circuit de Catalunya.

[smr2020test]The Racing Point and Renault drivers set the best times of the test so far for their respective teams. Perez’s 1’17.347 puts the RP20 fractionally further ahead of the time achieved by its predecessor in last year’s pre-season test.

Lewis Hamilton was the busiest driver in his Mercedes, completing more laps than Perez and Ricciardo combined. But it was a technical innovation on his W11 which caught the attention of the team’s rivals.

Onboard video revealed Hamilton moving his steering wheel towards himself at the beginning of some straights and away again as he approached breaking zones, prompting speculation Mercedes have some novel system on their car.

Alexander Albon had his first run in the Red Bull RB16 and spent part of the morning getting comfortable in the car. He eventually covered 59 laps.

Despite suffering a spin at turn nine just seven minutes into the start of the session while carrying a large aerodynamic rig on his car, Pierre Gasly covered more than a race distance in his AlphaTauri, and set the fourth-quickest time. George Russell was similarly productive in his Williams.

Yesterday Charles Leclerc said Ferrari were not concentrating on performance from the start of the test and that appeared to still be the case this morning. But nor did he cover an especially large number of laps, Hamilton managing twice as many on his mammoth morning’s work.


2020 F1 testing day two morning lap times

Pos.Car numberDriverTeamModelBest timeGapLapsTyres
111Sergio PerezRacing PointRP191’17.34748C3
23Daniel RicciardoRenaultRS201’17.7490.40241C3
310Alexander AlbonRed BullRB161’18.1550.80859C2
410Pierre GaslyAlphaTauriAT011’18.1650.81877C3
563George RussellWilliamsFW431’18.2660.91971C3
616Charles LeclercFerrariSF10001’18.3350.98849C3
744Lewis HamiltonMercedesW111’18.3871.040106C1
88Romain GrosjeanHaasVF-201’18.4961.14987C3
97Kimi RaikkonenAlfa RomeoC391’18.5251.17865C3
104Lando NorrisMcLarenMCL351’18.5371.19048C2

This article will be updated.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Racing Point on top as Mercedes’ steering wheel attracts attention”

  1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    20th February 2020, 12:15

    Surely this is blatant right, it cant move in motion?
    Or does the steering arm not count as suspension, even if it changes the wheelbase?
    Cool to see something different and interesting happening anyway

    1. Rules say you can’t change anything in motion – “motion”.
      Starts. Pit stops. You are standing.

    2. Pat – So drivers are not allowed to turn the steering wheel when in motion?

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        20th February 2020, 12:32

        They turn by leaning surely @gnosticbrian?
        hahaha no 10.3.2 “”No adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion”

        1. Pat – But is the part of the steering that moves on the Merc suspension? I doubt that they would drop such a basic boo boo.

          Technically, EVERYTHING is in motion – we can have NO knowledge whatsoever of the location of a stationary object; this follows from Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.

          1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            20th February 2020, 12:43

            Dammit Jim I’m a racefan not a theoretical physicist!

          2. steering is in the 10.4 and there is nothing about moving….

          3. You mean you don’t know the location of a moving object, but you know it’s speed; alternatively if you know where it is then you don’t know its speed.

        2. @fullcoursecaution I’ve been reading that regulation with my lawyer hat on (that’s what I do for a living) and the only way I think Mercedes can get round it is if they argue that the wheel hub/wheel isn’t part of the suspension of the car. DAS would then alter the geometry of the wheels, rather than the suspension. It’s a pretty tricky interpretation, but I think it may work.

          1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            20th February 2020, 15:21

            @geemac interesting. It seems to comply with the letter of the law, but not the spirit. Classic f1 engineering

          2. That’s how I would interpret it too. (I’m in auditing, so not unlike a lawyer, but my default configuration is “they are guilty” :D).

          3. Montréalais (@)
            20th February 2020, 18:19

            @fullcoursecaution – +1 That is a good one.

          4. If the wheel is part of the suspension, and cannot be turned, then you need to remove the tie-rod links that actually turn the wheels.

            As near as I can tell, Mercedes is simply applying two different steering forces– one force moves the wheels in parallel, and one force changes their angle relative to each other– hence, “Dual Axis”.

            Since no one ever thought there would be an advantage to steering the wheels away from each other, there’s nothing in the book about it.

    3. From what they said in the main article above, it seems the driver is moving the steering wheel longitudinally. Where is the evidence this was adjusting the suspension system? Many vehicles allow the driver to adjust the steering wheel, but that adjustment doesn’t change the suspension. It’s probably the Mercedes driver is doing this for comfort, after all it is absolutely essential to be comfortable if you’re driving for several hours, which the drivers are doing in here. If one were to speculate that the forward – backwards movement is doing something like changing a potentiometer, then I’d assume it was changing something the driver is already allowed to change, e.g. the brake bias, the fuel-air mix, etc. The difficulty of adjusting a setting with the “height” of the steering wheel is what happens when there’s an emergency and the driver suddenly leans on the steering wheel? He may change the potentiometer setting to something that’s undesirable. So the driver would need to be able to unlock and relock the steering wheel without taking their hands off the steering wheel.

      1. Great analysis and I love your insight, but I’m afraid that you’re not entirely correct. A vehicle has an adjustible steering wheel for COMFORT reasons only. I can take my Audi around the track with the steering in both extremities of travel and I would feel absolutely no performance gain whatsoever. If you watch the onboard video, you will notice that the Mercedes’ steering wheel attached to the linkages (whether directly or indirectly we might never know). When Lewis pulls the steering wheel backwards, the tyres undergo toe-in and visa versa for the steering wheel moving forwards. Had this been done automatically, it would be considered as a driver aid and deemed illegal. The other obvious case would be the change in toe being inadvertantly done which would be horrendously unsafe.

  2. That.Is.So.Cool!

    Mercedes just can’t stop, can they?)

    No idea how they will really use it, but knowing them, they have of course got the “all clear” from FIA already.
    Some teams will probably be white from rage.

    1. @dallein
      Ofcourse Mercedes have “the all clear” from the FIA; they got the “all clear” for burning oil, they got the “all clear” for trick suspension. So, why would they stop cheating with FIA in their deep pockets?
      As long as RBR/McLaren isn’t winning, Mercedes and Ferrari can get away with anything, such is the dependance from the FIA on manufacturers they have given away all pretence of fair play.

    2. Apparently already cleared prior to testing as legal. Steering wheel adjusting a steering parameter.


    3. Would those teams have a red colored car and the other have a bull on the car?

    4. You apparently had a few lessons with Mr Magnussen, Mercedes’ balls are crystal clear.

  3. What it’s a macro for several parameters, say break balance and break cooling adjustment?

  4. As with everything they do, Mercedes does it better than Ferrari, even when they let themselves be shamelessly copied.

    All in all, the RP looks to be a solid best-of-the-rest contender, and with Perez’s talent to squeeze amazing results when the oportunity arises, it’s looking really good for them. I’m not a betting man, but I’m really tempted to put some money on a podium or even a win for Perez in Baku.

  5. Oh, the sweet gloryhunters of the silver team.

    When Ferrari made engine gains last year, you straight away knew IT WAS ILLEGAL. But now, talking about highly intricate parts and systems you don’t have a clue of, everything’s clear and Mercedes are geniuses. How simple your world is.

    1. Hate the game, not the player.

    2. Mercedes are geniuses

      …clever design, ‘genius’ for openly clearing it with FIA first rather than hide what you’re doing.
      Dumb: not understanding the difference and complaining.

      1. @david-br

        clever design, ‘genius’ for openly clearing it with FIA first rather than hide what you’re doing

        I think they have also cleared the FRIC with the FIA :)

    3. It’s a steering rack, probably simpler than roadgoing cars because of steering aid bans. They had the idea before anyone else, ran it by FIA and put it on the car. The genius part is doing everything within the norms before anyone else. Not a Mercedes fan by a longshot, but gotta tip my hat to them. Not sure why you’re so salty about it.

    4. @pironitheprovocateur I would suspect it is because, for several years in a row, the technical queries that Ferrari had been asking the FIA during the off season strongly hinted that what they were doing was of dubious legality – for example, when questions arose over oil burning, the fact that Ferrari had been asking the FIA in the off season questions about how it would measure oil consumption, permissible constituents for oil and about oil combustion side products, how many different types of oil it could use and how many oil tanks it could run were rather suggestive of what they were doing.

      With that background, it is perhaps not surprising that the first thought of rival teams, particularly when seeing the strange acceleration traces of Ferrari’s cars – information coming from the FIA’s own car tracking systems – that their attitude was to assume that Ferrari was doing something illegal.

    5. There is no requirement for a car to be legal in testing. There’s no scrutineering at a test.

      They just have to be legal in Melbourne.

  6. Alternative title: Racing point on top as Mercedes.

  7. This is brilliant! :D adjusting toe while in motion! By moving the only movable suspension part steering wheel and thus steering arms. Amazing!

    This would help what 2-3 km/h down the straight? Not a lot, but could be even more.

    F1 tires are incredibly wide and sticky, toe-in or out creates a lot of resistance to forward motion.

    1. Are you sure that’s what it’s doing? It makes sense at least. Though a little bit of toe-in is better for high speed stability. It would be a super cool innovation, if this is the case!

      1. Although it really does depend on the tires. Some tires respond well to high slip angles, where Ackermann is normally the solution there, to get the inside tire a higher slip angle, and more grip when unloaded in slow speed corners. Changing to a more extreme toe out for better turn-in could give too much slip angle or not allow the outside tire to turn enough. But I guess this innovation isn’t saying it would have to be extreme. Devil’s in the details.

    2. Not to mention tyre degradation, by rolling perfectly forward on straights.

    3. If it’s fully analogical, adjustable by subtle increments of driver input, it could be very effective, allowing the driver to set the tracking to the ‘perfect’ angle for each corner and the straights. Maybe that’s too much to ask, no idea. But if so then it should mean speed gains and wear gains. Obviously it would need to be learnt by the driver until it becomes second instinct. But that’s precisely what real driving is.

      1. I think the wear gain (and temp control) would be the bigger part.

  8. check this out YT –

    I can’t see this being used at Monoco, but i imagine Mercedes deploying this on a per circuit basis.

  9. I really hope RP has something here, I’d love to see them scrapping with RBs and Ferraris!

  10. Lets goooo honey badger

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