Valtteri Bottas says he knew about the Dual-Axis Steering (DAS) system for at least one year before it made its public debut midway through the opening 2020 Formula 1 pre-season test.

The Finnish driver followed teammate Lewis Hamilton in trying out the DAS system on track at the first test, operated by pushing and pulling the steering wheel forwards and backwards, and says it is pretty easy to work despite looking like a complicated component from the outside.

While Mercedes has remained tight-lipped on the exact working and intended performance benefit of the system, the broad understanding is it aims to aid tyre life and performance by changing the toe angle of the front wheels while on the straights.

Bottas says the system is a credit to Mercedes’ innovation having been told about it at least a year ago.

“It’s the first time we’re running it. We didn’t have it on the first day, we put it on for the second day,” Bottas said. “But I’ve been aware of it for quite a long time, as it was not a quick project. The first time I heard about it was something like one year ago.

“It’s very nice to be in a team that comes up with this kind of system, it tells something about the great minds our team has and it’s not an easy thing to start to design and make work.

“We are still learning a lot about it and developing its potential, but I think sometimes, in certain circumstances, it can be pretty good. But that will be shown later on in the year, in different conditions, different tracks, how it can help us, if it can. But it’s quite impressive and it has been working fine.”

Rival F1 drivers have been curious to understand how tricky the system is to operate while driving, with Sebastian Vettel comparing it to running in flip flops, but Bottas is assured the device is straightforward to use and isn’t a safety concern.

“It doesn’t feel that strange, the system just works in a very good way,” he said. “It’s pretty solid, it never does anything funny and we only move the wheel if we want to.

“So far there’s no issue with it, so it’s actually pretty easy to use and there are no issues with it.”

The FIA has confirmed the DAS system is within the 2020 F1 rules but is set to be outlawed next year, which means Mercedes’ rivals would struggle to copy the device and have sufficient time to exploit the potential benefits.

“The other teams are going to think about it and I’m sure they’re all evaluating if it worth the investment of time and money to make it work for this year or not,” Bottas added.

“For us it was a pretty big project, so I hope we can have an edge with that – how big the edge, it’s completely a question mark, but we are in a good place with that, ahead of the other teams.”

 

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