Mercedes Formula 1 technical director James Allison has confirmed the introduction of a new steering wheel innovation called ‘DAS’, which it debuted on the second day of pre-season testing.

The German manufacturer was again the talk of the Barcelona on the morning of the second test as onboard TV images of Lewis Hamilton’s laps appeared to show an adjustable steering wheel that moved backwards and forwards on the straights and when cornering.

When pressed about the new system in an FIA press conference during the lunch break, Mercedes technical chief Allison refused to be drawn on the ins and outs of DAS - which stands for dual axis steering - but confirmed the team plans to race it this season.

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but we have a system in the car and it’s a novel idea,” Allison said.

“We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year.

“But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison insisted that Mercedes has no concerns over whether the new device complies with the regulations due to keeping an open dialogue with the FIA during the development process.

“This isn’t news to the FIA,” he explained. “It’s something we’ve been talking to them for some time.

"The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements.”

Hamilton said the he did not find the system a distraction during its first test run and is encouraged by Mercedes’ constant push for performance gains.

“I’ve only had one morning on track and I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it,” he said.

“We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety wise no problem today and the FIA are okay with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Allison spoke of the enjoyment of finding new innovations, an element of working for Mercedes he said gives him “massive pride”.

“It really is fun, but perhaps one of the things that’s not greatly appreciated is that each of the cars we bring to the track are festooned with innovation,” Allison said.

“It’s just not as obvious with a discrete, standalone system like this when you can see it with your own eyes.

“One of the things that gives me massive pride from working with Mercedes is to give me part of a team that doesn’t just turned the sausage handle each year, but is working out how we can work fast enough to bring these innovations to the track and make them stick.

“This is fun but it is only the tip of an iceberg of similar stuff that’s written across the car.”

 

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