Red Bull have admitted they are “raising questions” and seeking clarification from the FIA about Mercedes’ innovative moving steering wheel – with ‘DAS’ already in use at F1’s season-opening Austrian GP.
Mercedes caused a stir with their DAS – Dual-Axis Steering – system at pre-season testing, with the device allowing their drivers to move the steering wheel backwards and forwards to adjust the toe angle of their car.
Although it is unclear how much advantage it gives them, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were seen to be utilising the device during first practice in Austria, as highlighted by Sky Sports F1’s Anthony Davidson and Karun Chandhok.
Red Bull were planning a protest against Mercedes at the Australian GP back in March before it was cancelled – and Christian Horner says his team are still questioning its legality now.
“Obviously it’s a complicated system, it’s a clever system and obviously we’re after some clarifications from the FIA and raising some questions about it,” the Red Bull boss told Sky Sports F1 during the opening session, which was led by Mercedes ahead of Max Verstappen in third.
But Horner also hinted that Red Bull would be willing to try out the concept, which Mercedes are confident is legal, on their own cars.
“It depends what it actually does and achieves,” he added. “Everything has to earn its place on the car.
“Obviously it’s a clever system, it’s an ingenious system but obviously these rules are so complex. It’s just understanding what part of the regulations it fits.”
The DAS system was likened to a trombone by Ted Kravitz earlier this season in how it was used, with drivers pulling the steering wheel towards them on the straight and then pushing it back into its normal position ahead of the corner.
Davidson, a Mercedes simulator driver, admitted it felt “weird”.
The FIA has already confirmed DAS will not be allowed on cars next year.
With Ferrari believing they’ll struggle this season, Red Bull may be Mercedes’ main challengers for the title, which Horner has been talking up during the long pre-season.
The team have brought several updates to Spielberg, including a new Honda engine, and after Max Verstappen admitted Red Bull are in a “good position”, Horner said they are making progress.
“Mercedes have been so strong the last five or six years, they come into this season as firm favourites and it will be a mighty challenge and beat them based on their previous form,” he said.
“But it feels like we’ve made progress, this relationship with Honda has only grown in this last six months over the winter period, and we’re very hopeful going into the year.
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