FIA president Jean Todt has applauded Red Bull’s timing in its DAS protest, saying best to do it at the start of a weekend and not after a race.
Mercedes introduced DAS, its Dual Axis Steering system, during pre-season testing.
The system, which changes of the toe of the front wheels through the driver pushing or pulling on his steering wheel, raised eyebrows with the Brackley squad’s rivals.
Almost before the end of the first day of testing, Red Bull said it would protest DAS if Mercedes took it to a grand prix weekend.
Mercedes did, and Red Bull did.
However, rather than wait until after Sunday afternoon’s Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull lodged its protest on Friday after second practice.
Todt applauded the team’s timing.
“There are rules and they are interpreted and they are optimised,” the FIA President told RaceFans.net, “and clearly if one team has some doubts and there is a healthy governance and if they want to make a protest, honestly I prefer a team to make a protest at the beginning of the championship rather than at the end of the race.
“So I think that the approach of Red Bull had been very good, very straight forward.”
Red Bull lost the protest.
The stewards at the Red Bull Ring declared that DAS is part of the W11’s steering, not its suspension, and is therefore allowed to move.
That ruling backed up the FIA’s only assessment of DAS with Mercedes insisting from the very start that motorsport governing body had looked at its DAS and declared it to be legal.
“The stewards, they do rely on interpretation [of] our experts, and clearly this technical device which is called DAS, coming from Mercedes, is something which has been followed by the FIA technical experts,” Todt explained.
“I understand that they felt that it was corresponding to the regulations. But still, if a confirmation was needed, for me it was fair.
“It’s a lot of pressure on our experts on that.”
Todt revealed that the FIA had now set up a three-person panel to rule on controversial innovations.
“So that’s why we have decided that, on sensitive interpretations, there is going to be a little panel of three experts who will have to agree or disagree on one interpretation,” he said.
“So it’s not only one guy who can say yes, black or white. It will be a group of three experts, plus they can get your contribution of electronic expert, engine expert to be able to give the answer.”
Red Bull says the matter is now closed.
“We wanted to get clarity,” team boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“We wanted to protest at the earliest point of the weekend so it didn’t interrupt with the race result. So it would either be legal or illegal on Friday so it would then give Mercedes a chance to rectify that either way for Saturday and Sunday.
“Having seen it [DAS] on the car on Friday, we chose to use the avenue of a protest to achieve that clarity.
“We informed Mercedes prior to putting in the protest.”
He added: “We questioned it and got that clarity so as far as we are concerned it’s all closed now.”