Mercedes steering rack, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Dual Axis Steering likely to be legal this year but not in 2021

2020 F1 season

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Mercedes’ new Dual Axis Steering system is likely to be legal for this season only as the design will not be permitted under the 2021 technical regulations.

[f1tv2020testa]Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has indicated his team will seek a “clarification” from the FIA about the device which appeared in testing this week, and said they will accept whatever the sport’s governing body decides.

The FIA has already indicated the system appears to be legal based on the information Mercedes has supplied. However the rules are due to change in 2021.

The key text in the 2021 regulation states that any “re-alignment of the steered wheels” must be a “function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel”. This would prevent the wheels being adjusted by the wheel being pushed forwards and backwards, as the Mercedes currently permits.

However speaking in an FIA press conference today race director Michael Masi did not confirm the regulations change is intended to outlaw DAS. “We’ll see what teams can come up with within those boundaries of what the regulations are written for 2021,” he said.

“From our side [it’s] very simple: We don’t discuss individual teams’ technical elements,” he added. “When we’ve got a query from a respective team that we deal with them one on one on that basis.”

He stressed the FIA’s overriding concern with any innovation is that it does not compromise safety. “Anything from an FIA perspective, at the end of the day, safety is our number one element. So if there’s any questions regarding the safety side of it, rest assured that that is the highest priority from our side.”

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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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  • 29 comments on “Dual Axis Steering likely to be legal this year but not in 2021”

    1. By no means an expert in any of this, but surely if the function of the second axis is to align or “steer” the wheels, then surely there should be a corresponding change of direction of the car, i think one of the videos is showing the adjustment being made on the straight while travelling in a straight line. If the car doesn’t change direction how can it be “steering”, the alignment change is however having an impact on the drag of the wheels, therefore an aerodynamic effect, surely this would be banned under the movable aerodynamic parts rules rather than suspension rules?
      Apologies if this point has been raised elsewhere as i had not seen it yet.

      1. Richard, in principal that would be right. But only in a world without adhesion and friction and momentum etc.

        In reality, you can steer but it does not necissarily change the direction of the car (for example when it aquaplanes, or just doesn’t have enough grip), or not noticeably so.

        What this system do is not about aerodynamics but rather about the friction between tyres and the tarmac.

        1. It does change the aerodynamics too as the tire toe angle does have an effect on airflow around the tires.

        2. Fair point that a steering input wouldn’t always have the desired output in reality owing to other factors like grip and I agree the aim of it is not principally aero it was more thinking on routes of protest that this might go.

          Regardless it’s certainly innovative and got me thinking. Interesting to see how it shakes out

          1. Richard R, you would potentially then run into the issue that any movement of the front wheels will have an aerodynamic effect that could then be classified as moveable aerodynamics.

            After all, turning the front wheel to steer into a corner would also alter the pitch and yaw of the car, whilst you would also be altering the wake pattern that the tyre itself generates, changing the behaviour of the aerodynamic parts downstream of that tyre. The relative impact of changing the toe angle of the front wheels on the aerodynamics of the car does seem likely to be small enough as to be effectively negligible, and I would think it is unlikely that avenue would gain a lot of traction if it were tried.

            1. I accept the impact when cornering and changing the direction of the wheel. I guess the word Steering to me implied a change of direction as per my earlier comment and how this being done on a straight line didn’t constitute a steering input hence the aero line of enquiry. But that’s an interpretation that can clearly be challenged as already done.

              I think your both right it would be a tough one to ban on this principle or interpretation.

      2. I think that outlawing it after this year won’t necessarily mean the system won’t exist in future years. More that the development to get an equivalent response from just a turning action couldn’t be completed in the time available. What MERC do know is by the time the others develop an equivalent, and train thier drivers to use it, the benefits will be too late, especially if it is to be banned next year. The real genius will be to maintain the same benefits by just turning the steering in the traditional fashion, something MERC will probably be fine tuning already but couldn’t get ready for the start of the season. Absolute genius and hats off to them. It’ll also take focus off less obvious development parts!

    2. As I already commented in another article – these morAns from FIA\Liberty is killing the sport, replacing real innovation with stupid stock cars.

      Good luck to them keeping F1 relevant and true .

      1. Amen. It seems that whenever F1 engineers dare to innovate, the immediate reaction from F1 regulators is “we must forbid this!”

      2. To be fair, they’re saying it will peibabaly be legal this year. 2021 ruleset was made before this steering was publically released.

    3. The key text in the 2021 regulation states that any “re-alignment of the steered wheels” must be a “function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel”.

      Interesting to see that this has been written into the regs.

      I wonder if the statement about Mercedes being in earlier discussion with the FIA about the DAS and its legality meant that it was introduced into the regs for 2021 (i.e. what Brawn said about shutting down loopholes).

      Also, this is probably why Mercedes are fine with tipping their hand by revealing the DAS – they know it’s been blocked out by the regs for the future, and they know it is complex enough that it will be hard (if not impossible) to implement mid-season, so are fine flaunting it.

    4. Following that pathetic decision by the FIA, I hope Mercedes collect the double in the next six seasons too.

      Pinnacle of motorsport, the home of innovation – pah. Let’s get back to fiddling fuel meters and using bendy wings, that’s the true spirit of F1.

    5. So replacing the push-pull activation with some sort of cam lobe on the shaft should be legal and provide the main benefits but remove driver skill from the equation. Great !?

    6. Mercedes…… was ist los??

    7. UM I think Merc are taking the p1ss. Merc RD cars have had steering a steering setup that does the same thing for yrs, (changes Toe) but without the need to move the steering wheel back and forth.
      For Merc to introduce a system on their F1 car that requires it to be done manually by the driver doesn’t make sense. Hence my scepticism about Mercs reasons for doing this so openly.

      1. Likely so they can get legal clarification on the system and so other teams can have their questions and complains sent in now, as opposes to it being leaked/discovered later (like Renault’ thing last year) and having disqualification if its ruled against them.

        1. @yaru I think they had the go ahead before testing, Question did Bottas have DAS in his car?

    8. Well, technically, it already has been outlawed for the next technical reg-changes since the last US GP-Thursday, before anyone outside Mercedes even had been aware of this particular system being in the planning for usage on track.

    9. FIA is ‘clever’ again. I’m glad that truly clever heads from Mercedes team exploited a hole in technical regulations. However, regarding the 2021 season, the 18” tires would make this system as redundant as cans strapped to the end of the car.

      1. Why? Toe out/toe in settings are independent of wheel diameter. The low scrub, cooler tyre benefits of running parallel, 0° toe settings on straights will be the same on 13″ and 18″ wheels.

    10. So should we see this banned mid season if it proves to be more advantageous than first thought and Mercedes starts running away with the championship (again…)?

      1. I hope not. Although some people may find another year of Mercedes success frustrating, I honestly feel innovation deserves to be rewarded; not punished.

    11. It’s an interesting system.
      And what does it means being programmed or predefined?
      If there are some preset toe angles that can be set by pushing or pulling the steering wheel n-times,
      then is it predefined, pre programmed or not?
      If it’s analog and free of being predefined settings what protects the driver accidentally setting too
      much or too few? And then running unwantedly on a bad setting?
      Having a zero toe position is quite vital for this system to maximize the speed and minimize the scrub
      on straights. So having that stored somewhere is preprogrammed or not?

      Anyway allowing this system surprises me. If they are allowing this, why not allow some simpler
      mechanism to set toe while driving, like conventional one for fuel mix, or brake balance.

      Security concerns idk, but with one additional lock button would prevent to set toe without pressing the button
      and pushing or pulling the wheel at the same time. If the system is allowed this extension is nothing.

      Imo allowing this system can be a great benefit for its users, because it can affect how nimble the car is, the
      tyre’s lifespan, it can help to manage temperature either, so these temporary fixes can enlenghten the
      lifetime of the tyre some laps, and it can help to carry a bit more speed on straights. I dont know too much
      about engineering, but having a system like this for the rear wheels either would be really cool, and at the
      tech level of today imo it’s not that big invention, but of course not a small one either as others not found it
      while reading the book of F1 rules yet :P

      But if F1 rules would not be restrictive about it, what about a camera or gps system to track surrounding traffic
      and road conditions, and involve some deep learning to do it automatiacally at road cars? It’s not a problem if
      setting the toe is not so fast, probably it’s better to do it relatively mildly and slowly in some seconds.
      What do you think the Mercedes F1 version is instantenous in this aspect or sets the toe a bit slower?
      If sets a bit slower isn’t that pre programmed? If sets instantenously even at a larger change is that safe?

      Anyway if it’s not automated at all, and if it’s quite analog to comply the rules, then it’s maybe not easy to use
      and thus has not enough benefits to use in the long run, although it could be a nice system imo.
      Also it could be integrated in the driving stlye gradually, and using it 20 times per lap is not a must.
      It can have benefits even if it’s rarely used to manage temperature, or extend the lifetime a bit.
      Imo the fuel mix or brake balance is not set for every corner even is some simracers doing it so.

    12. Interesting point made by Mark Priestley about the DAS system it does not come under the listed parts regs, so other teams could theoretically buy it.
      So instead of whinging and whining about Mercedes cheating or otherwise trying to circumvent the rules. The other teams who are kicking up a stink should look at approaching Merc with an offer.

      1. @johnrkh Otmar Szafnauer was talking about this on Wednesday & confirmed to Sky that it was something Racing Point could buy from Mercedes if they wanted to.

        Also why Mercedes may be willing to sell it to Racing Point I can’t see them been interested in selling it to there more direct competitors like Ferrari & Red Bull or there ‘B teams’.

    13. I am still confused. If, as has been reported, the ’21 changes banned this development then one has to ask, on what grounds? Was it deemed to be effectively a moveable aero device? If so then why wasn’t it banned for ’20? What the FIA have done is hand Mercedes a freebie and tied everyone elses’ hands. As if Mercedes weren’t already streets ahead!!! I am looking forward to see if anyone lodges a protest in Melbourne…if not it will look as though the FIA are handing Mercedes a distinct advantage. According to one report this question of ‘moveable aero’ was put to Masi during a press meeting and he flatly refused to answer!! That alone should beg the question….

    14. After having looked into the Sporting and Technical Regulations I am surprised the FIA gave their blessing to this system because it seems to me the writers of the rules were aware of the possibility of this type of system and had specifically written the rules with the intent to exclude the possibility of someone installing such a system. For example, Sporting Regulation 34.6 states in part, “In order that the scrutineers may be completely satisfied that no alterations have been made to the suspension systems or aerodynamic configuration of the car (with the exception of the front wing) whilst in pre‐race parc fermé, it must be clear from physical inspection that changes cannot be made without the use of tools.”
      I guess we’ll have to wait and see whether or not Mercedes turn up with the DAS system installed on their car at Melbourne.

    15. In the FIA times (2006) Renault’s mass damper was banned as a movable aerodynamic element (even when it was totally hidden from the airflow). Indirect effects, they argued. Now in the MIA times, there is nothing wrong with MB’s DAS, no indirect effects on the suspension, aerodynamics, etc. None at all, no sir.

      1. I’ll not comment on the Renault issue, as I’m only superficially aware of it. But regarding effects on aero specifically, if you weren’t allowed to change ANYTHING that affected aero then you wouldn’t be able to steer – turning for a corner has a much larger effect than a little bit of toe. My understanding was that changing the aero can’t be the AIM of the device – regardless of whether it’s direct or indirect.

    Comments are closed.