Mercedes have revealed that their dual-axis steering (DAS) system originated from a previous concept, used on their Formula 1 cars a few years ago.
The Silver Arrows proved to be the first major talking point of pre-season testing when they revealed the system which allows their drivers to adjust the toe angle of the front wheels.
Mercedes were always clear that more running was needed to fully understand its benefits, but the system was banned for 2021 anyway with teams speaking out against its legality.
While Valtteri Bottas knew about DAS for over a year before it debuted, it turns out that the origins of the system stretched back even further than that.
Speaking in a video on their YouTube channel, Mercedes’ chief designer John Owen said: “The DAS system was born out of the ashes of something else we’d tried and actually raced on the car a couple of years ago that sort of worked, but didn’t really deliver all the promise that we had in it.
“That was sort of put to one side as something we tried and perhaps didn’t live up to our expectations. There are many other things like that that are out there, within the team, within people’s minds, projects that people remember.
“The DAS system was really, well, what about if you could do something like this, what do the rules say? And the rules effectively didn’t stop it. We thought that’s unusual and surprising.
“Then you get into it more and more and more, and you say well how would I stop it, and take the opposite approach and say well I’m now going to stop someone from having this, what would I do, what would my arguments be?
“Then you have a system where you thought about what someone else’s arguments would be, and you’ve made it so it doesn’t trip up on any of those.”
While the FIA were satisfied that the system was legal, Red Bull led the charge in threatening to protest, but that’s just F1, says Owen.
“I think we’ve seen with the DAS system already there’s a lot of immediate reaction that it must not be within the rules,” he said.
“But the more people look at it, the more people say ‘oh OK, maybe it is within the rules, and why haven’t we seen it before?’.
“Now there’s a definite [push] to find why it isn’t within the rules, and that’s just Formula 1 in general.”
Owen believes that visual developments are lacking in F1, and that’s why the reaction from fans was so extreme when they first saw the DAS system used.
“What the DAS system proved is that there’s definitely craving in Formula 1 still for that sort of innovation, where suddenly the driver is moving the steering wheel different to what everyone else is, and something is happening that we didn’t expect,” he explained.
“I think that’s perhaps what’s lacking, that visual innovation that people can talk about and get excited about.
“There’s a lot of things on the 2020 Mercedes that are great innovations, none of which we really want to talk about because they are an important competitive advantage.
“But there is one of them that obviously is so visual, and talked about a lot.
“I think the sport would be better if there were more of those talking points. It would bring a lot more interest into the sport.”