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Mercedes steering movements cause interest in Barcelona

  • Published on 20 Feb 2020 12:22
  • comments 16
  • By: Fergal Walsh

A technical trick linking Mercedes' steering wheel to the toe of the W11 has caused intrigue in Barcelona during pre-season.

Videos emerged of Lewis Hamilton's onboard in which he pulls the steering wheel fore and aft, which visibly adjusts the toe of the car.

Hamilton pulled the wheel towards him along the straights before pushing it forward as he enters the braking zones of certain corners.

There are question marks over whether or not the system is legal or not, with the rules specifically indicating that any movement of the suspension is forbidden.

Article 10.2.1 of the technical regulations states: "With the steering wheel fixed, the position of each wheel centre and the orientation of its rotation axis must be completely and uniquely defined by a function of its principally vertical suspension travel, save only for the effects of reasonable compliance which does not intentionally provide further degrees of freedom.

Furthermore, Article 10.2.2 reads: "Any powered device which is capable of altering the configuration or affecting the performance of any part of any suspension system is forbidden."

Article 10.2.3 relates to the movement of the car while it is moving: "No adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion," it asserts.

The initial thinking behind the adjustable toe system is to reduce the drag on the straight, before changing improve the grip in the corners. 

However, other suggestions report that it is about retaining tyre temperature along the straights.

'The system has been approved by the FIA'

The concept has received widespread attention in the paddock and media centre.

"I've never seen this before and it seems like a smart innovation from Mercedes," technical expert Paolo Filisetti told GPToday.net. "The question is whether it is an aerodynamic trick or a mechanical element. According to the rules, this should only be done on the wheels with which steering is done, so only on the front wheels.

"What happens is that with this system the wheelbase is adjusted for both straights and curves. This creates the most ideal situation. It looks like a button on the steering wheel is first pressed with the right thumb and then 'MARKER' appears on the display.

"I think it has something to do with being able to steer into corners as optimally as possible, but I don't rule out that it also has a positive effect on speed on the straights"

"I've heard that the FIA has already approved this system, partly because of the fact Mercedes has said: 'We are going to test it right away instead of holding it back'.

"You could have known in advance that this would be in the picture but Mercedes doesn't seem to have a problem with that. To copy this system will take at least a couple of months to make sure that it works well."

Replies (16)

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  • Mansell

    Posts: 100

    It's not on a Ferrari, hence the lack of out rage

    • + 0
    • Feb 20 2020 - 13:06
  • Manto02

    Posts: 57

    We already know the outcome of the WC right?

    • + 0
    • Feb 20 2020 - 13:28
    • Well, if we didn't before, we do now, I think.

      • + 1
      • Feb 20 2020 - 14:22
    • abhidbgt

      Posts: 239

      If it results in such a big advantage then credit where credit is due. They have done something new. Might be a bit boring for the championship though.

      • + 0
      • Feb 20 2020 - 14:30
    • Manto02

      Posts: 57

      Not that the last championship wasn't boring, in terms of fight for the lead

      • + 0
      • Feb 20 2020 - 15:39
    • I knew the result for 2020 during the last summer. Stable regulations for 2020, with no reduction of budget, and no major personnel changes, should have given a hint to all of us, quite earlier on.

      • + 0
      • Feb 20 2020 - 18:40
    • Damn, it's a bit early for this level of complaining isn't it? If it's legal fair play to them, if it's not then it will be banned. Reminds me of the F-Duct McLaren implemented in 2010. Cheeky, technically legal, eventually it was banned. I expect the same thing here. Likewise, I expect a whole lot of whining about whatever the outcome is from this because well... it's the almighty Mercedes after all..

      • + 1
      • Feb 20 2020 - 19:34
  • RogerF1

    Posts: 439

    Maybe they’ve borrowed autonomous driver mode from Tesla and LH is actually just resting his hands on the wheel and not actually driving at all (all the way round).

    • + 0
    • Feb 20 2020 - 16:21
  • Mansell

    Posts: 100

    ARTICLE 10 : SUSPENSION AND STEERING SYSTEMS
    10.1 Sprung suspension :
    10.1.1 Cars must be fitted with sprung suspension.
    10.1.2 Any suspension system fitted to the front wheels must be so arranged that its response
    results only from changes in load applied to the front wheels.
    10.1.3 Any suspension system fitted to the rear wheels must be so arranged that its response
    results only from changes in load applied to the rear wheels.
    10.2 Suspension geometry :
    10.2.1 With the steering wheel fixed, the position of each wheel centre and the orientation of its
    rotation axis must be completely and uniquely defined by a function of its principally
    vertical suspension travel, save only for the effects of reasonable compliance which does
    not intentionally provide further degrees of freedom.
    10.2.2 Any powered device which is capable of altering the configuration or affecting the
    performance of any part of any suspension system is forbidden.
    10.2.3 No adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion.

    quite a few there that makes it illegal

    • + 0
    • Feb 20 2020 - 16:53
    • Good summary. I too think it's probably illegal. However, I too know how incredibly crafty engineers can be. The triple diffuser in 2009, the F-duct in 2010 are a couple of good examples of circumventing regulations legally

      • + 0
      • Feb 20 2020 - 22:18
  • xoya

    Posts: 531

    It's testing.
    It should be safe to try something out without consequences?
    Right?

    • + 0
    • Feb 20 2020 - 21:12
    • Mansell

      Posts: 100

      There shouldn't be consequences no...

      But the FIA need to come out and say if its legal or not.

      If we are trying to cut costs why make other teams have to spend £££ on something that might not be legal to race.


      Looking at a few videos online about it ,

      I don't see how DAS conforms with

      10.1.2 Any suspension system fitted to the front wheels must be so arranged that its response
      results only from changes in load applied to the front wheels

      10.2.3 No adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion.

      at the very least.

      • + 0
      • Feb 20 2020 - 22:27
  • DaPain3

    Posts: 2

    A high-quality article here. Very good coverage of testing so far with a lot of clear, key information.

    • + 0
    • Feb 20 2020 - 22:07
  • RogerF1

    Posts: 439

    Looking at the ruling extracts from posts above (thank you) it seems to me all the ‘regs’ refer changes to the suspension and hence to the grip/load applied to the wheels/tyres. This system appears to me to and described as such to change the steering alignment and thus is disconnected from directly changing the suspension, so not contravening the regs. We can all see/believe this reduced toe will benefit straight line speed where Ferrari trumped Merc last year. So, found a loophole that suspension systems are out of bounds but steering changes are open house?
    What irks me, as other are mentioning is yet more cost up £££££ €€€€€ $$$$ to save fractions of a second. Yet another expensive gizmo that takes a chequered flag instead of a driver.

    • + 1
    • Feb 20 2020 - 22:47
    • Ahh, Someone who understands!

      I don't think you can complain about spending money to reduce lap time, this is F1....

      • + 0
      • Feb 21 2020 - 13:57
    • RogerF1

      Posts: 439

      In actual fact I have something that appears very similar on my Mondeo - but I only use it after my wife has driven the car and suddenly the steering wheel is practically touching my chest. 😉

      • + 0
      • Feb 21 2020 - 16:56

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