Mercedes reveals new DAS system born from FIA trying to bury it

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Mercedes has revealed how the configuration of their new DAS system was born from the FIA's bid to bury it.

Back during pre-season testing in February, the Brackley-based squad stunned the paddock when the Dual-Axis Steering device was spotted in use for the first time.

The DAS works by removing the toe-out angle of the front tyres on the straights, offering various benefits such as better tyre wear and improved top speed.

“The simple answer is it was really quite difficult indeed [to implement],” Mercedes technical director James Allison said of its creation answering fans questions on the team's YouTube channel.

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Immediately rivals began to question DAS' legality, with Red Bull likely poised to protest it when the season starts next month.

However, Allison is sure it is fully in compliance with the regulations because it the FIA who inadvertently helped Mercedes create it.

 "In fact, we first wanted to introduce this in 2019," he revealed. 

"We took our ideas to the FIA, showed them, explained why we thought it was legal and they begrudgingly agreed that dual-axis steering was actually legal.

“But they didn’t much like the way we’d done it, because the second axis we were getting from a lever on the wheel, rather than that whole wheel movement.

“And so they said, ‘No, you’re going to have to move the whole wheel in and out.’ And I think when they said that they were hoping that would be too difficult, and we would go away and cause them no more problems."

Mercedes F1 Barcelona Test 2020

However, as the governing body always tends to do, the FIA underestimated Mercedes' ability to adapt.

“We have a very inventive chief designer, John Owen, and he took one look at that challenge," Allison said.

"He’s got a really good gut feel for whether something is doable or not, and that’s a really helpful characteristic because it allows us to be quite brave spending money when most people would feel the outcome was quite uncertain.

“John took that challenge on, reckoned he could do it, put it out to our very talented group of mechanical designers, and between them they cooked up two or three ways in which it might be done.

“We picked the most likely of those three, and about a year after that out popped the DAS system that you saw at the beginning of this season.”

Frustratingly for Mercedes, DAS will only be allowed for this season after the FIA banned it from 2021 onwards.