Mercedes Technical Director James Allison says he believes the FIA hoped the development of DAS would be “too difficult” and that the team would abandon it.
The Formula 1 world was stunned when Mercedes introduced its revolutionary Dual Axis Steering system during pre-season testing. The system allows the drivers to adjust the toe angle of the front wheels by pushing or pulling on the steering wheel.
When answering a fan question on Mercedes’ YouTube channel technical director James Allison revealed that the team wanted to introduce the first version of the system in 2019, but this solution was deemed illegal by the FIA.
“The simple answer is it was really quite difficult indeed,” explained Allison when asked how difficult it was to develop DAS.
“And in fact we first wanted to introduce this in 2019. We took our ideas to the FIA, showed them, explained why we thought it was legal. And they begrudgingly agreed that dual-axis steering was actually legal.
“But they didn’t much like the way we’d done it, because the second axis we were getting from a lever on the wheel, rather than that whole wheel movement.
“And so they said, ‘No, you’re going to have to move the whole wheel in and out.’ And I think when they said that they were hoping that would be too difficult, and we would go away and cause them no more problems.”
However the team didn’t go away and proceeded to develop a version of DAS that complied with FIA’s regulations.
“We have a very inventive chief designer, John Owen, and he took one look at that challenge – he’s got a really good gut feel for whether something is doable or not, and that’s a really helpful characteristic, because it allows us to be quite brave spending money when most people would feel the outcome was quite uncertain.
“John has a good feel for whether he’s going to be able to get out of the woods, and into fair ground again.
“John took that challenge on, reckoned he could do it, put it out to our very talented group of mechanical designers, and between them they cooked up two or three ways in which it might be done.
“We picked the most likely of those three, and about a year after that out popped the DAS system that you saw at the beginning of this season,” concluded the Briton.