|F1 is 99% car, 1% driver. Guaranteed 2020 F1 World Champion – Lewis Hamilton. This was one of the special design projects Aldo Costa worked on his last year as consultant to Mercedes.|
Mercedes' illegal reinvention of the steering wheel has been banned just a day after it broke cover but because the FIA want Lewis Hamilton to win another championship, the Mercedes team can use it for 2020. Mercedes is expected to be granted a season's grace before next year's regulation changes, but Ferrari has protested its legality and rightly so because the cars suspension cannot be adjusted while the car is in motion and changing the toe setting while the car is in motion is clearly a suspension adjustment.
The design was in use during testing in Barcelona this week when Hamilton was seen pushing his steering wheel forward at the start of straights, bringing his front tires inwards, and then pulling it back entering corners, moving the tires out, providing perfect grip for the demands of the track. (See video below)
Rivals were aghast at the ingenuity of it all, knowing that it would take them months to match 'DAS' – dual-axis steering – as it has been codenamed.
It is understood that Mercedes, who have set a blistering pace in testing, will use the new steering wheel at every circuit.
Michael Masi, the FIA race director, pointed to 2021 regulations which state: 'The alignment of the front wheels must only take place through a constant function of a rotational movement of a single steering wheel.'
Mercedes technical director James Allison said: 'It's an innovative idea that allows the drivers an extra dimension of control on the steering system. Why we do it, exactly how it works, and all those things, we'd rather keep those to ourselves.'