Is the DAS system legal for 2020? Ferrari to ask the FIA for clarification

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Although the FIA confirmed that Mercedes’ new steering system – DAS will not be legal in 2021, the question still remains about its 2020 status.

On the second day of testing Mercedes introduced an innovative steering system called Dual Axis Steering (or DAS for short) and it has been raising controversy ever since.

The FIA already confirmed that the system will be outlawed from 2021 onward, but the question remains if it will be allowed in 2020. Mercedes is certain the system is legal according to 2020 technical regulations and it appears the FIA agrees. However, some are saying the system might be in breach of Formula 1’s parc ferme rules.

Renault’s sporting director Alan Permane gave his opinion.

“We don’t know what [DAS] is doing,” said Permane.

“James Allison and his men have done something clever, and undoubtedly they think there is plenty of lap time in it.

“I’m sure they’ve been through it with probably Nikolas [Tombazis], the FIA and his guys and are happy it’s legal. I agree.

“There’s probably a parc ferme question mark over it, but I suspect that the detail lies in is it a steering system or is it suspension system? The two in the technical regs are defined differently and that’s where the detail is.”

The rule in question doesn’t allow the car to be modified after qualifying. Article 34.6 of the parc ferme rules says: “A competitor may not modify any part on the car or make changes to the set-up of the suspension whilst the car is being held under parc ferme conditions.

“In the case of a breach of this Article the relevant driver must start the race from the pit lane and follow the procedures laid out in Article 36.2.

“In order that the scrutineers may be completely satisfied that no alterations have been made to the suspension systems or aerodynamic configuration of the car (with the exception of the front wing) whilst in pre-race parc ferme, it must be clear from physical inspection that changes cannot be made without the use of tools.”

Since the DAS system alters the toe angle of the front wheels, it might be considered a breach of the rules if it is ruled that this constitutes an alteration to the suspension system.

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi was asked about this, but he remained vague.

“We don’t discuss individual teams’ technical elements,” Masi said.

“When we’ve got a query from a team, we deal with them on a one on one basis. So that’s all I’m going to say.

“I know you are looking for a headline but I’m probably not going to provide one for you. Like anything, we will continue working with the team and all teams on all aspects of anything they would like to bring forward.”

But the FIA might be getting a query from at least one team very soon. Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto said the team will ask the FIA for clarification on the DAS system’s legality for the 2020 season.

“I’ve seen that there is a lot of discussion about it,” said Binotto.

“Personally myself, I didn’t really look in detail, what it’s about, but I think we trust fully the FIA.

“I’m pretty sure that they have already done the right decision, or they will do it. But I completely trust on what FIA will judge.

“Are we discussing with the FIA? Not yet.

“We will do for clarification, important for us to understand, but as I said, we will not challenge the FIA on their decision, because we trust them fully on what will be or has been the decision on that,” concluded the Italian.

We will keep you updated on this story as it develops.


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