After a long meeting between the FIA, Red Bull and Mercedes, the governing body has decided to reject Red Bull’s pretest against Mercedes’ innovative Dual-Axis Steering system.
Following the Friday practice sessions in Austria, the Red Bull team lodged a formal protest against the DAS system that caught rivals’ eye during pre-season testing when Mercedes first used it. The DAS that can alter the toe angle of the suspension, helping tyre warm-up in critical phases in qualifying and races, has raised the question of whether it complied with the Technical Regulation.
After Red Bull lodged an official complaint on Friday, the FIA race stewards held a hearing attended by members of both teams (in person or via video), as well as Nikolas Tombazis of the FIA Technical Department.
On behalf of Red Bull, Paul Monaghan, Adrian Newey, and Jonathan Wheatley stressed that “no adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion”. Mercedes sent James Allison, Ron Meadows, John Owen and Andrew Shovlin to the hearing to defend the legality of the system.
As a result, the Austrian Grand Prix stewards – Gerd Ennser, Felix Holter, Vitantonio Liuzzi, and Walter Jobst – have decided that DAS could not be in breach of any suspension‐related regulations.
“As a general conclusion, it is very simple to conclude DAS would be illegal if it were not part of the steering system. So the main challenge and debate has to be on whether it can be considered to be part of the steering system. The stewards decide that DAS is a part of the steering system.
"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,” said the FIA statement.
The decision means that Mercedes can continue to use its controversial Dual-Axis Steering system in the remainder of the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.