Red Bull poised to protest over Mercedes’ new steering system

Team dominate Friday practice session ahead of opening race in Austria

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in practice for the Austrian Grand Prix. Photograph: Mark Thompson/Getty

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in practice for the Austrian Grand Prix. Photograph: Mark Thompson/Getty

 

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team are set to face a protest from Red Bull as they enter the weekend of the opening race of the 2020 Formula One season.

Mercedes looked ominously strong during Friday practice for the Austrian Grand Prix but their controversial dual-axis steering system (DAS) has had its legality questioned by Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner.

Continuing their form from winter testing, Mercedes were mighty on the first day of running at a race meeting this year. Hamilton, who is attempting to win his seventh world championship, topped both sessions in a one-two with teammate Valtteri Bottas. They were sixth-tenths clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the morning and held the same advantage over Racing Point’s Sergio Perez in the afternoon at the Red Bull Ring.

However, off-track the focus was firmly on the Mercedes use of its DAS system – a clever engineering conceit which allows the drivers to push the steering wheel forward or back to manually adjust the toe-angle of the front wheels. Mercedes liaised with the FIA during its development and believe it is legal. The FIA has allowed its use this season although it has been banned for 2021.

With racing finally starting post-lockdown, this is the first chance for a team to formally protest its use. Horner sought clarification on Friday rather than after the race so it is not hanging over the result. “Obviously we’re keen just to get clarity on that system using the mechanisms that are available and getting it addressed quickly early in the weekend,” he said. “We have a difference of opinion on the system.

“Its primary performance isn’t to steer the car obviously so, yes, of course there is a technical position that Mercedes will think one thing, our engineers think something else so in situations like this the best thing is to address it via a protest. The reason to do it today is it feels like the fairest time in the weekend rather than waiting to after qualifying or the race.”

The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, accepted that any protest is a part of F1 but also believed it would be better dealt with sooner rather than later.

“It is the first race, and although it is fair enough seek clarification on the other side we don’t want to end up with a big debate on Sunday,” he said. “Controversy on engineering innovation has always been a part of Formula One and this has to be expected. It is part of the risk. We think we are on the right side, and that is the reason we have it on our car.” – Guardian

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.