until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

FIA stewards reject Red Bull protest against Mercedes

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

The FIA stewards have rejected Red Bull’s protest against Formula 1 rival Mercedes’ dual axis steering system, after the Silver Arrows used it in Friday practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Mercedes’ system alters the toe angle of the front wheels when the drivers to pull the steering wheel towards them, and it first appeared in pre-season testing.

Red Bull reportedly threatened to protest the device in Australia before the race was cancelled and finally did so with the season beginning in Austria on Friday.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas set the fastest times in the second practice session at the Red Bull Ring but were protested for their cars allegedly breaching Articles 3.8 and 10.2.3 of the technical regulations.

Article 3.8 relates to moving parts having aerodynamic influence on the car, and 10.2.3 relates to suspension geometry, specifically that “no adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion”.

Mercedes had repeatedly stated its confidence that the device is legal and sought clarification from the FIA Technical Department last year before proceeding with the design.

Red Bull, which has suggested it could use its own DAS if it gets clarification it is legal, said the system was in a “grey area” of the rules.

The hearing at the Red Bull Ring regarding the case featured Paul Monaghan, Adrian Newey and Jonathan Wheatley from Red Bull’s side; James Allison, Ron Meadows, John Owen and Andrew Shovlin from Mercedes’ side; and Nikolas Tombazis on behalf of the FIA Technical Department.

In a lengthy verdict that outlined both the position taken by Red Bull and that of Mercedes, the stewards determined that “the key challenges to the legality of DAS rely on it not being part of the steering system”.

They subsequently outlined their position for why that wasn’t the case, stating that DAS “is not part of the suspension, nor can it be considered to illegitimately adjust the suspension”.

“Therefore the stewards consider DAS to be a legitimate part of the steering system and hence to satisfy the relevant regulations regarding suspension or aerodynamic influence,” the verdict read, with Red Bull’s protest “rejected as it is not founded”.

Mercedes had previously had a lever-based system rejected by the governing body.

Though it then got permission from the FIA Technical Department to proceed with its device for 2020, DAS-like systems have been banned for 2021.

That remains the case even though mechanical components of this year’s cars will be carried over for next season.

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