Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

DAS could be “worth a few tenths” to Mercedes at some tracks

2020 F1 season

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Mercedes’ Dual Axis Steering system could be worth tenths of a second at some circuits, a rival team’s technical director believes.

The system allows the team’s drivers to alter the toe angle of their front wheels. Exactly what Mercedes intend to use this for isn’t certain, but it could aid the team in managing tyre temperatures and optimising the car’s handling between corners.

Racing Point technical director Andrew Green says his team have looked at the potential uses for the device. “I think we’ve got a view to where the benefits might be,” he said. “We haven’t done any simulations to establish that.”

Any team looking to copy the system would need a car light enough to gain the maximum from it, said Green. “If you have the weight available to be able to run this sort of system, you’re going to get the benefit out of it.

“I think the magnitude of the benefit is going to be dependent upon lots of factors from the tyres you’re running, to the track you’re running at, to the basic handling of the car. I think the benefit will be dependent on all of those factors.

“At some tracks [there’ll be] very little benefit, at some tracks maybe it’s worth a few tenths. It’s a variable.”

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Don’t expect to see DAS on a Racing Point
While the FIA has indicated the device appears to be legal under the current rules, this won’t be certain until the car is scrutineered at a race weekend. The regulations for 2021 indicate the device is unlikely to be legal next season.

But even if teams knew they could run DAS next year, Green says Racing Point is unlikely to commit its limited resources to creating its own version of the device.

“It’s a significant project,” he said, “significant to the point where I suspect it would require a new chassis from where we are now.

“Even if the rules weren’t changing next year, I doubt whether we would be introducing something like that for this year. The fact that the rules are changing next year and that type of system appeared appears to be outlawed with the new regulation, no, no chance. I think it’s one of those small gains that if you can do it, you do it. But we can’t.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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23 comments on “DAS could be “worth a few tenths” to Mercedes at some tracks”

  1. I feel like Mercedes have had this idea up their sleeves for a season or two and deliberately held it back for the last season before the rules change to get the last few tenths over the others at a time when the field us largely converging.

    1. @eurobrun

      Great comment! I completely agree.

    2. @eurobrun – I think that’s a fair guess as well. Allow them a bit more margin to let go of 2020 development sooner and move more resources to 2021 earlier.

    3. @eurobrun Good point, could well be. Unfortunately for them, Pirelli has increased tyre pressures which will reduce its effect.

  2. When Ferrari gain a few tenths with engine trickery, it’s a scandal. When Mercedes gain a few tenths with suspension abd steering trickery, it’s magnificent display of engineering prowess.

  3. Seems like no one really wants to comment on the matter but I believe most teams already know the possible advantages (which doesn’t mean they know how Mercedes intend to use it).
    Possible advantages:
    – Current toe angle is a compromise between best for cornering and limited penalty in straight line, Mercedes could optimize and get the best of both worlds.
    – Better control over tire management (heating and lifespan)

    Indirect advantages from the above:
    – Better ultimate lap time
    – Less drag on straights and higher top speed
    – Lower tire degradation
    – Longer stint
    – More (tire) strategies available
    – Quicker to build up temperature under SC, VSC

    Risks:
    – Unreliable? Mercedes will be penalized if it gets stuck in one position
    – New to driver, might take time to get use to it and extract max potential
    – Extra weight and complexity

    All in all, it’s undeniable this will provide some extra advantage to Mercedes but how much will be hard to say. I am pretty sure that all teams have done some analysis over it, how much time is it worth over a race (more relevant than time per lap), how much will it cost to develop, when will it be ready, could it bring us in contention for a win, how many place and prize money will we get from it. Since it will most likely be banned next year, development cost shouldn’t be detrimental to next year’s car and still provide some significant gain on track to be worth it (ie. probably only 4 teams with the resources to consider it, Ferrari, RedBull, Renault and McLaren. The first two more likely than the second 2).

    1. Answer to: -New to driver… Valtteri said it’s already second nature to them.

      1. Answer to: -New to driver… Valtteri said it’s already second nature to them.

        Could not agree more, I don’t know how this is any more difficult than adjusting incremental brake bias before each corner, it seems far easier as its a motion based input on a straight. Absolutely no big deal.

        Not like the most successful F1 driver of the modern and most technical era in F1 history is behind the wheel or anything… oh wait.

        1. @RB13 Adjusting brake balance happens via a press of a button (or a swipe of a rotatory-switch with the Mercedes-drivers) these days, so very easy.

          1. @jerejj rotary switch, in increments different to each corner. My point stands, this is one function deployed on the straights = easier.

    2. “Mercedes will be penalized if it gets stuck in one position” — why would that be? It’s their problem if they’re stuck with a sub-optimal toe angle, why would the stewards care?

      1. Not penalise by the stewards. Penalised by the it being stuck in the wrong position for some of the track – therefore losing time or increasing tyre temps, for example.

    3. @jeanrien

      I don’t have enough steering expertise to really puzzle it out, but it seems to me this could allow different tuning of the mechanism that lowers the front during turns. That might allow them more ride height on the straights.

      1. Unlikely. That *would* be a violation of the suspension adjustment rules, and would be grounds for banning the system.

        As far as anyone can tell, it simply allows them to adjust the angle of the wheels relative to each other. No camber, ride-height or damping/rebound adjustments.

        Since they’re using the second axis of movement (forward/back) to control the steering, it’s legal. The 2021 rules basically ban the use of a second axis.

  4. Ignorant me just asked why it is so difficult to replicate.
    All cars already have a steering installation in which they can change the angle of the left and right front wheel.
    The only thing this DAS does is to change the angle independently of the front wheels to get the desired toe setting on the straight. Seems relatively simple to me.

    1. Everything seems relatively simple all armchair experts. All knowledge but little or no experience and understanding

      1. Thanks for the elaborate explanation to my sincere question, @lums.

    2. It’s heavy for a start. Weight is bad – Mercedes have heavily invested in weight reduction to balance the extra weight penalty from DAS and their new rear suspension.

      It would also likely need a new tub and/or repeat front end crash testing, as fitting a larger and main steering column will alter the front structure of the car.

      The rest is just maths, physics and simulation to get the design right and expense of production.

      1. Thanks guys, JC and RB13.
        Makes a lot of sense.

    3. @coldfly

      Space.

      If the entire front crash structure has been designed down to the millimeter to accommodate the bare minimum space 6 months or more ago (the slim noses this year took alot of engineering to achieve) where are the extra bits meant to go? The work requires them to redesign the front with the required space, make the aero work around the new dimensions, fabricate it, crash test it and on and so forth. The actual mechanism isn’t the issue.

  5. Is there any reason why this system has to be mechanically activated rather than “fly-by-wire”?

    1. I think it needs to be managed through a ‘movement of the steering wheel’, Adrian.
      So a button would not work.

  6. All the uproar over Ferrari but Merc have pulled a trick right under our eyes by doing opposite to Ferrari. Develop a sneaky new system, show fia instead of hiding it, demand fia maintain secrecy to other teams about its exact operation then accept fia’s finding that although legal it is a ‘loophole’ knowing it will be outlawed for 2021.

    Effectively guaranteed themselves a massive amount of lead time and development on a system that gives them an advantage over other teamsin 2020, and will not be available for other teams to use in 12 months time, so no matter how much teams develop their own system they will be months behind with no chance to catch up with the development of the system for next year’s car.

    All while everyone points the finger at dodgy Ferrari. Well played Mercedes. Well played indeed.

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