After over 100 days of no on-track F1 action, the sport finally returned on Friday with free practice. However, the biggest talking point from FP1 was Mercedes and the team using DAS at the Red Bull Ring. Lewis Hamilton engaged the steering trick on the straight after turn 1.
For those unaware, DAS, which stands for Dual Axis Steering, is a steering column innovation that Mercedes have implemented in the W11. The mechanism works when the driver pulls back on the steering wheel to change the toe configuration of the car.
F1 cars typically use a toe-out configuration, which helps with cornering and car stability in the corners of a circuit. However, this implementation isn’t particularly advantageous on the straight.
Mercedes has designed a mechanism by which drivers can change the configuration from ‘toe-out’ to ‘toe-in’ by pulling back on the steering column. While the complete benefits of DAS are still unknown, it does provide a marginal boost in straight-line performance.
Additionally, DAS prevents the rear tires from overheating on long straights.
An eagle-eyed fan spotted the German team using DAS during FP1 of the Austrian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton pulled back on his steering wheel to engage DAS whilst hurtling down the straight after turn 1.
It’ll be interesting to see DAS in all its glory on a hot lap during the final stages of qualifying. Could it be the extra boost that gives Mercedes a potential front-row lockout?
Despite struggling in the past few years, Mercedes are favorites heading into the Austrian Grand Prix. The German team had worked significantly on the W11 to iron out issues in its predecessor.
The soaring temperatures of Spielberg caused major cooling issues for Mercedes in 2019, but the team has claimed to have found a workaround for its PU.
Surprising nobody, the Brackley outfit finished free practice 1 with a 1-2. Lewis Hamilton led Valtteri Bottas with an impressive 1:04:816. Will the black arrows pick up where they left off from 2019?