The Austrian Grand Prix stewards rejected Red Bull’s protest against Mercedes’ dual axle steering system (DAS) ahead of the opening of this weekend’s Formula 1 season, calling it “unfounded”.
Mercedes made its debut with the innovative steering solution, which allows drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to adjust the angle of the front wheel tip from inside the cockpit using the steering wheel, during the pre-season tests of 2020.
It was known that many of Mercedes’ rivals were questioning the legality of the system, which has already been outlawed for the 2021 season.
Red Bull had planned to file a protest at the Australian Grand Prix before the race was canceled, and hinted last week that controversy could emerge again when the delayed F1 coronavirus season finally started in Austria. .
After Mercedes used DAS on both of its cars in FP1 and FP2 at the Red Bull Ring on Friday, Red Bull formally lodged a protest with the stewards based on two articles in the technical regulation.
On Saturday at 12:31 in Austria, the administrators released a statement confirming that they had rejected the Red Bull protest.
Red Bull technical officials Adrian Newey and Paul Monaghan had argued at the hearing that since DAS allows the driver’s movement, it is a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the Mercedes W11, as well as claiming that it was part of the car’s suspension system.
Mercedes countered this by arguing that DAS is not a suspension system and that it is a conventional steering system which is also able to adjust the tip angle of cars by changing the steering angle.
The administrators rejected the protest after believing that DAS was part of the steering system – although it noted that it was not “conventional” – and could not be seen as part of the car’s suspension.
“Stewards consider DAS to be a legitimate part of the steering system and therefore to meet relevant suspension or aerodynamic influence regulations,” the stewards report concluded.
“According to the stewards, the DAS system is physically and functionally part of the steering system.
“As such, it benefits from implicit exceptions to certain suspension rules applicable to steering.”
The decisions imply that Mercedes will be allowed to continue using the DAS on its cars during the final tests and qualifying in Austria on Saturday.
Red Bull has the right to appeal the decision.