Lewis Hamilton is confident the intriguing Mercedes Dual-Axis Steering (DAS) system can give the reigning Formula 1 world champions a performance edge and hopes to find “a huge difference” against his rivals who do not have the device.

Mercedes caught the attention of the entire F1 paddock on the second day of pre-season testing when it debuted the DAS system, with Hamilton spotted pushing and pulling his steering wheel which changed the toe angle of the front wheels.

While Mercedes has been tight-lipped about the exact operation and performance benefits of DAS, with many believing it will aid tyre performance on the straights, Hamilton feels he will use it sparingly only when it can deliver key gains.

“Hopefully it’ll make a huge difference,” Hamilton said. “At the moment I don’t really use it a lot to be honest. Sometimes you practice with it, sometimes without it. I don’t know how much we’ll be using it.”

Having used it minimally in the second test at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, Hamilton and Mercedes are expected to use the system when clear advantages can be found at circuits with long straights and tracks which produce high energy from the tyres.

Asked if he could feel a performance difference he responded: “Yeah. I’m just generally really proud of the guys. Honestly I think our whole mentality continues to progress and improve.

“Over the years we become more and more open-minded. Engineers are often quite closed-minded and stick to doing the same things they’ve done in the past because it’s safe and its the reliable way because it’s worked before. But over the last couple of years I’ve really been pushing the guys into areas of where they are not so comfortable and we’ve discovered things we would never had if we hadn’t done that.

“It was really awesome to break them a bit and open them up to new ideas and that’s what also has enabled us to do things like this.

“I think it’s really inspiring to see them continuing to innovate ahead of everybody else. That’s a good thing for us.”

The majority of F1 teams have assessed the feasibility of building their own DAS system but many feel it would take around half a season to produce and would not be a long-term benefit given the sport’s 2021 rules is set to ban the device.

 

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