Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Worth looking at DAS for potential use beyond 2020 – Szafnauer

2020 F1 season

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Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer says the team will consider developing its own version of Mercedes’ DAS system rather than buying it from them.

[f1tv2020testa]Szafnauer said his team doesn’t fully understand the device’s construction and operation yet but will look at whether it’s worth adding to their car for this year and potentially future seasons.

“Even in a year like this, if it makes a big difference, we should do it because a system like that could transfer into 2021,” he said.

“The limitations in 2021, although there many, are predominantly aerodynamic. So we’ve got to throw out the aero but if you find a clever mechanical system then [it’s worth having].”

As RaceFans reported yesterday, the FIA believes the system is legal based on the information Mercedes has supplied it so far. Whether the system is legal for 2020 will be determined when the Mercedes is scrutineered in Australia.

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Racing Point already use some Mercedes suspension parts
Szafnauer expects it will be ruled legal for this year. “We don’t understand it well enough yet. Maybe some teams will say no, it’s illegal.

“But it sounds like from just listening to the information that’s out there, from what James [Allison] was saying in an interview, that they’ve gone back and forth with the FIA quite a bit. So I think it would be odd for the FIA to say yes then no.

“However, that has been done in the past. Williams had a gearbox banned after a while, I’m sure there’s many more examples.”

It remains to be seen whether DAS will be legal under the extensively revised technical regulations for 2021, which partly aimed to stop teams using elaborate mechanical devices to adjust the car during the race. A new regulation for next year which states “the re-alignment of the steered wheels… must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel” appears to rule out DAS.

However Szafnauer believes the potential of the device, which appears to allow Mercedes’ drivers to alter the toe angle of their front wheels, could justify developing it.

“I don’t know about the trade-off but the benefits are pretty clear,” he said. “It’s just a matter of how you do it safely and how quickly it can happen.”

“If it’s a huge effort for a little benefit, probably not, because we have limited resource,” he added. “But if it’s a small effort for a big benefit, then probably yes.”

Racing Point already obtains some suspension parts from Mercedes and Szafnauer suspects it would be “legally possible” for them to purchase Mercdedes’ DAS parts. But he said they “don’t want to.”

“If we decide to go down this route we’ll do it ourselves. We do look around everywhere to see what other people are doing to improve our car. And I know the other teams do the same. So it’ll be interesting to see who’s the fast follower of this.”

“It looks like a clever bit of ingenuity,” he added. “And I’m sure everyone now will see how quickly we can get it on.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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15 comments on “Worth looking at DAS for potential use beyond 2020 – Szafnauer”

  1. Well, that’s a measured view. Of course, now he doesn’t have to bc. the FIA already took care to ban it for next year, saying that ‘steering’ has to be a single steering wheel rotating around a single axis.

    Saw someone speculate whether this was one of the things that pushed the FIA/Brawn to go for that ‘ban another Double Diffuser thing at next race’ rule for 2021, which does make sense, because it could otherwise be a chunk of extra money needed for all but Mercedes.

  2. As read elsewhere, the DAS should be deemed illegal in 2021:

    Article 10.5 of F1’s incoming technical regulations states: “The realignment of the steered wheels, as defined by the position of the inboard attachment of the relevant suspensions members that remain a fixed distance from each other, must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel.”

    1. Personally, I think DAS should be grandfathered into the 2021 regulations, because it should help address the primary criticism of modern F1, which is tire management.

    2. How does that determine any illegality. The wheels must remain aligned with the inboard attachment of the suspension members.
      Unless there is another reg that states that the inboard attachment must be immovable, and the DAS works by rotating the attachment therefore making DAS in violation of that reg.
      But we don’t still know how the DAS works, other than it changes something in the geometry the FIA has so far accepted legal so pure speculation on my part.

      I’ve missed these. Please don’t make 2021 and beyond all Vanilla

    3. It should be made illegal for 2020. this device alters suspension and aero no matter what political angle you come from. It gives one team extra lap time from where in the spirit of the rules it should not. It is also a driving aid for more free laptime for the driver.
      Just because the driver doesn’t press a button (though it looks like that happens too) doesn’t mean it is acceptible. Also It seems more dangerous doing changes like this in the cockpit throughout a lap, and F1 is supposed to be safety first. They banned driving aids, rear wheel steering, hand operated drs, ,and based on the reasoning for those bans (and many others) the FIA needs to ban this straight away. Mercedes have a predictable backup which will prevent the fia banning it: they will say they built the car around the system, which is garbage. I think I think Redbull and ferrari will build this basic but unethical system in a few months. The fact that it is banned for 2021 might see a big political mess for the FIA if the other teams protest Mercedes in Melbourne, especially as it now looks like the FIA knew what Mercedes was doing and wrote the rules for 2021 in tandem. People are often angry at Ferraris political power in the sport, but to me this looks much worse for Mercedes and possible collusion with the FIA. Last time I was this angry with FIA politics was Ross brawn and ferrari forcing change to Michelin tyres back in 2003 when it looked like Williams and Montoya were going to win the championship. I believe these little grey spots in rules should not be allowed to be exploited for unfair advantage. The precedent is set with dodgy innovations banned, less dodgy than this one. I suspect dodge merchant brawn is in on this. He got lucky his double diffuser got allowed into F1 when he bought an F1 team for $1. friends in higher places? There is more conspiracy potential here than ‘FerrarIA’ especially since it is now known just one day later that FIA have banned this system for 2021

      1. LOL
        The system is totally legal, and that only one team found the way to implement the system according to rules is not the reason to ban it.

      2. kpcart, there doesn’t seem to be much consensus on whether it does actually impact the aerodynamics – furthermore, you then start hitting the problem that any form of steering the car will alter the aerodynamic behaviour, since you are altering the pitch and yaw angles of the car, such that there comes a point where, in your anger, you could alter the rules in such a way that you’d run the risk of theoretically making all forms of steering illegal, which would be rather counterproductive to say the least.

  3. Prodrive statement.

    12 years ago we developed Active Toe Control to adjust toe angles on road cars, the same principle as Mercedes F1’s new DAS system to overcome the compromise of toe angles at low v high speeds. Such systems improve fuel economy and improve low speed agility/high speed stability.

    1. Well isnt that ironic, given the heritage between Prodrive and Mercedes GP…..

    2. Yes, but “active” is a four-letter word in the F1 world. We can’t have modern technology on our so-called pinnacle of motor-racing vehicles, because that would be “bad”.

    3. More proof F1 is no longer innovative. Developed 12 years ago. People that think F1 teams are innovative in the car world need to get their head out of the sand. Even mercedes F1 team are on record this week saying they used technology developed in formula E for this year’s F1 car.

  4. FIA’s Massi just confirmed the system is banned in 2021 *facepalm*

    Clamping down on true innovation and turn F1 into stock-car racing is “ingenious”, meaning total absence of brain!

    1. The system was developed 12 years ago it has now been shown, no team tried it as it would likely have been banned. What is innovative about F1? I love the sport but it has not been innovative for decades.

      1. As mentioned above, the difference is between active and passive. The Prodrive system was active, and all such systems were outlawed following the systems that peaked with the Williams FW14b. This system is passive, and requires only driver input. That’s why no team has developed it until now, as the active system would have bee banned right away, as you correctly point out

        1. @unklegsif it is also worth noting that Prodrive’s “Active Toe Control” system never went beyond the initial “proof of concept” stage.

          They showed it was theoretically possible but, as far as I can tell, that is all that happened – they never built any prototypes, so the idea was never tested in practise, and it seems that Prodrive never developed their idea into a fully working concept (they wanted an OEM to fund development, but they never found an industry partner and dropped the idea soon afterwards).

          On a wider note, to be brutally honest the behaviour of some fans here makes me wonder whether the real problem they have with this system is not what it does, but that they’re bitter that their favourite team didn’t come up with the idea first.

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