Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has credited Red Bull for its “fair” handling of its protest against the team’s controversial Dual-axis steering system at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Red Bull lodged a protest against Mercedes’ DAS system on Friday evening after Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas used the device on their W11 cars during FP1 and FP2 at the Red Bull Ring.

The Austrian GP stewards rejected the appeal having concluded that Red Bull’s argument that DAS was part of the suspension was “unfounded”, and ultimately ruled the system as legal.

Red Bull had informed Mercedes of its decision to protest and team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports on Saturday that his side “wanted to protest at the earliest point in the weekend so as not to interrupt with the results.”

"It was either going to be legal or illegal on Friday, which would give the chance for Mercedes to rectify that either way for Saturday and Sunday,” Horner added.

"We have that clarity now. We know it is legal, and if we want one, we'll have to design our own and incorporate it.”

Red Bull has reserved its right to appeal the stewards’ ruling.

Speaking after Mercedes locked out the front-row of the grid having dominated qualifying in Austria, Wolff praised how Red Bull went about its protest at the earliest opportunity. 

“I must say it was fair play from Red Bull to seek that clarification by a protest on Friday not on Sunday night,” he explained.

“I think it would have been detrimental to Formula 1 to go back to the first race, have a result on track, and then a protest and it wouldn’t be clear who has won. I like the sportsmanship of that decision.”

Wolff believes Red Bull was within its right to question the FIA over the device and seek clarification.

“The system is so innovative that it is fair enough that clarification is being sought,” Wolff said. “It is absolutely OK to protest. I think we would have done it the other way around, too.

“We’ve had obviously a lot of conversations with them,” he added. "We didn’t want to run something that they would deem to be over the line. And therefore the outcome reflects the exchanges and the opinions that we had with the FIA over the last few months.”

Both Austrian GP pole sitter Bottas and teammate Hamilton said they never had any concerns that DAS could be illegal.

“I never expected to have anything in the car, at the start of a weekend, that would be illegal,” Bottas said.

“I guess the team was prepared to have some issues with other teams that would think it was illegal but, obviously I trust we don’t have anything illegal in the car, so I had no worries at any point.”

Hamilton, who will line-up alongside Bottas on the front row after missing out on pole position by just 0.012s, added: “It wasn’t a concern to me as I’d spoken to James [Allison, Mercedes technical director] and all the team - I trust them implicitly.

“I knew I was comfortable with our position and the great idea was legal, so no problems.”

 

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