Although the world witnessed the first use of DAS a few days ago, Valtteri Bottas revealed he’s been aware of the mechanism for a long time. The Finn, like Lewis Hamilton, was also testing the innovation during week 1 of preseason testing.
Mercedes’ DAS system
On day 2 of preseason testing, Mercedes debuted a clever trick with their steering wheel. The Mechanism was christened ‘DAS’ and has been the talk of the F1 paddock since its use. DAS stands for Dual Axis Steering and involves a driver-initiated operation that looks quite simple, yet enticing.
As Mercedes were conducting their regular tests like all other teams, something caught fans’ attention. As Lewis Hamilton was hurtling down the straight at the Circuit de Barcelona, he appeared to be “readjusting” his steering wheel. An onboard camera showed the Brit pulling the steering column outwards just before the straight and inwards just after.
This action resulted in the front wheels changing their alignment from a toe-in to a toe-out arrangement. F1 cars unlike road cars, follow a different wheel alignment setup. The front wheels are angled slightly inwards for better driving and cornering stability.
The toe-in setup loses its advantage on long straights and Mercedes have found a fix for this through the use of DAS.
The FIA has banned this mechanism from the 2021 F1 season, but can still be potentially used this year. Teams will be seeking clarifications from the FIA regarding the system’s legality for the current season. But so far, Mercedes are in the clear.
Valtteri Bottas on DAS
Valtteri Bottas spoke to reporters on the final day of pre-season testing on week 1 and threw light on the DAS.
“First time I heard something about it was nearly one year ago. It’s not a quick project.”
“It’s not an easy thing to start making it, designing it and actually make it work. For us, it was a pretty big project, so it would be a pretty difficult thing to just copy.
“It’s very nice to be on the team running these kinds of systems, and it says something about the great minds our team has”
Bottas also asserted that the team wouldn’t have developed the system, had it been illegal. Additionally, the Finn claimed that the steering mechanism felt normal to use and worked as intended.
Bottas had his best season in F1 last year, finishing second in the Drivers’ Championship. The Finn debuted ‘Valtteri 2.0’ in 2019 and maybe showing off Valtteri 3.0 come race day in Melbourne.