What Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas testing Mercedes DAS system proved about F1 fans

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas sparked a reaction which proves F1 fans still crave innovation when they put Mercedes’ Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system to work at pre-season testing. That is the verdict of Mercedes chief designer John Owen, who has revealed DAS is not a totally new invention.

Hamilton and Bottas turned heads in the pit lane and beyond at the Circuit de Catalunya in February as the pulling and pushing of their steering wheels impacted the toe angle of their front wheels.

The system prompted discussion among Mercedes’ rivals as to its legality and it has subsequently been banned from 2021 onwards.

Former F1 driver Martin Brundle was, though, among those to hail the creativity needed to come up with such an innovation.

Owen, one of the brains behind DAS, has now given his verdict on what the reaction to Hamilton and Bottas testing it out says about F1 enthusiasts.

“What the DAS system proved is that there’s definitely craving in Formula 1 still for that sort of innovation, where suddenly the driver is moving the steering wheel different to what everyone else is, and something is happening that we didn’t expect,” said Owen, during a Q&A on Mercedes’ YouTube channel.

“I think that’s perhaps what’s lacking, that visual innovation that people can talk about and get excited about. There’s a lot of things on the 2020 Mercedes that are great innovations, none of which we really want to talk about because they are an important competitive advantage.

“But there is one of them that obviously is so visual, and talked about a lot. I think the sport would be better if there were more of those talking points. It would bring a lot more interest into the sport.”

Owen also lifted the lid on the fact that DAS is not totally new, with a previous innovation a precursor to the system.

“The DAS system was born out of the ashes of something else we’d tried and 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,” Owen said.


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“That was sort of put to one side as something we tried and perhaps didn’t live up to our expectations. There are many other things like that that are out there, within the team, within people’s minds, projects that people remember.

“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. We thought that’s unusual and surprising.

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

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

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