Mercedes-AMG is known for pushing the limits with its racing cars, and its latest tech is so clever that it’s been banned for next season.
The automaker’s 2020 F1 car features a system called Dual-Axis Steering, or DAS, that allows the driver to adjust what’s called the “toe” of the tires.
F1 cars are often set up with toe-out, which means the tires are pointing slightly away from the center of the car when it is traveling in a straight line. This improves handling in turns, but isn’t ideal on straights. What Mercedes-AMG has done is design a system that allows the driver to pull on the steering wheel to eliminate the toe-out on demand, as has been seen in on-camera footage from pre-season testing.
It’s not entirely clear what, if any, advantage this creates, but F1’s technical team has suggested that it could lead to more even heat distribution across the tires, while others think there could be benefits in aerodynamics and rolling resistance.
F1’s rules prohibit suspensions that can have their geometries adjusted by the driver or a computer, but Mercedes-AMG found room in regulations to make DAS meet the letter of the law, but only for this season.
Sky Sports reports that F1’s governing body, the FIA, was made aware of DAS last fall and changed the regulations for 2021 in an attempt to prevent it being implemented again.
Article 10.5 in the 2021 rulebook states that "the re-alignment of the steered wheels… must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel."
"We will see what teams can come up with, within those boundaries of what the regulations are written for in 2021," FIA race director Michael Masi said.
Defending F1 champion Lewis Hamilton still isn’t sure how well it works, but is excited by the development, according to ESPN.
"I've only had one morning with it, so I don't really have a lot to talk about with it,” Hamilton said.
"For me it's really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that's down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that'll work to our benefit."