Mercedes: There's 'desperate panic' from rivals to prove DAS is illegal

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Mercedes claim rivals have "desperate panic" to prove their new DAS system is illegal.

'Dual-axis steering' was the big revelation from pre-season testing back in February, after Lewis Hamilton was seen using it for the first time down Barcelona's main straight.

DAS basically allows the driver to alter the toe angle of the front tyres by pulling the steering wheel towards them before pushing back it in place for the corners.

And in a video, Mercedes chief designer John Owen began by revealing how the system came about.

“Innovation, there’s almost no new ideas, there are only old ideas, but there are different collections of ideas that make a new concept of something different,” he said.

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“And so the DAS system was born out of the ashes of something else, something that we tried, something we’d actually raced on the car a couple of years ago, that sort of worked but didn’t really deliver all the promise that we had in it.

“So that was sort of put to one side as something we tried and didn’t perhaps live up to our expectations.”

Interestingly, his admission comes after an eagle-eyed viewer noticed Hamilton appearing to use a similar DAS-style system at the start of his pole lap for the 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix.

In the video, it does appear as though the Mercedes driver pulls the steering wheel towards him entering the main straight though there was no movement of the front tyres and he didn't seem to push it back while braking for Turn 1.

Even so, when the current DAS was seen, there was immediate questions about legality and Red Bull has every intention of protesting against the system if it was used in Australia.

“We’ve seen with the DAS system already that there’s a lot of immediate reaction that it must not be within the rules,” Owen commented.

“But the more people look at it, the more they sort of say, ‘Well, darn, maybe it is in the rules, and why haven’t we seen it before?’.

“Now there’s a desperate panic to try and find the reason why it shouldn’t be within the rules.

“That’s Formula 1 in general.”

However, the FIA has always maintained DAS is allowed, though will be banned from 2021, and Mercedes admit they too had to tried to find any reason why it might not be permitted in the current regulations.

“The DAS system was really, well, what about if you could do something like this? What do the rules say? And the rules effectively didn’t stop it,” said Owen. “That’s unusual and surprising.

“Then you get into it more and more and more, and say, ‘Well, how would I stop it?’ – you take the opposite approach, and you say, ‘I’m now going to stop someone from having this, what would I do, what are my arguments?’.

“Then you build a system where you thought about what someone else’s arguments would be, and you’ve made it so that it doesn’t effectively trip up on those.”