Ferrari Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel believes his Mercedes rivals will find driving with its “novelty” DAS steering wheel trick a “quite weird” experience.
Onboard camera footage from Barcelona F1 testing revealed a system on the Mercedes that involved the steering wheel being moved backwards and forwards by the driver to adjust the toe and camber of the front wheels.
The benefit of this is to change the angle of the wheels so that the ideal amount of toe is present in the corners but they are then straightened for the straights to reduce tyre scrub.
When asked by The Race if he had looked at Mercedes’ steering wheel and what his thoughts were, Vettel replied: “Yeah, I mean I’ve seen it. We talked about it at lunch.
“It looks interesting. I guess the fact that they’re running with it means that it’s legal.
“I don’t know, it’s called steering wheel not push or pull wheel!
“Imagine you’re used to running and you put on your running shoes and somebody asks you to run with your flip-flops. You can do that, it just feels very different!” :: Sebastian Vettel
“I don’t know if it works, I guess there’s quite a lot of work to bring it to the track and it’s probably not as easy as it looks for the driver to work with it but we will see.
“It was a novelty for us to see.”
The system involves the steering wheel being moved forward as the driver brakes, and then being pulled back during acceleration.
Vettel said he would “guess it’s not easy to operate it” and added: “I think it’s quite weird, when you have the feeling all of a sudden you might [not] have the wheel in your hands”.
Asked if he thought there might be any safety concerns over the device, Vettel replied: “As I said I don’t know, I could just imagine it feels weird!
“But for sure if it’s faster then there’s no concern, you go for the fast option.
“We had the F-Duct many years ago and we drove around with one hand. That wasn’t safe but it was fast so you do what you’re pushed to do.
“But then that’s why we have the FIA to look after us and make sure things make sense and we have got our hands on the wheel.”
Questioned further about the system, he added: “Imagine you’re used to running and you put on your running shoes and somebody asks you to run with your flip-flops. You can do that, it just feels very different!
“Obviously it’s not quite that extreme but it’s something that’s completely new and feels strange and weird at first.”
The DAS is expected to be particularly useful at tracks such as Monza that have long, fast corners and long straights and have therefore generally presented contradictory set-up demands.
Vettel said he was unsure how easy it would be for other teams to copy the system, but he also played down the effect it was likely to have.
“It’s much more dependent what you have around it, the car you’re sitting in,” said Vettel.
“Maybe I’m underestimating but I don’t think this is the ticket to win.
“I think there’s a lot more elements to building a competitive car.
“But for sure it’s an innovation and we’ll see if it’s something everyone has to pick up on or not.”